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Business Roundup

Prepared by Christina Tashkevich
Friday, April 4
Fitch affirms Georgia's 'BB-' rating; outlook stable

Fitch Ratings has affirmed Georgia's long-term local and foreign currency ratings at BB- with stable outlook. At the same time, the agency affirmed Georgia's country ceiling at BB-.

"Georgia's sovereign ratings are supported by its moderate government debt burden of 25 percent of GDP and dynamic economic growth rate that averaged 9.7 percent in the five years to 2007, propelled by an impressive record of structural reforms and massive foreign direct investment inflows,” said the head of emerging Europe sovereigns at Fitch, Edward Parker.

"However, political and economic weaknesses, including a substantial current account deficit, pose risks to the country's rapid development path."

Fitch forecasts real GDP growth of around 9 percent this year after 12.4 percent in 2007. “Georgia's economic revival and foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows of around 15 percent of GDP last year are testament to the liberal reform agenda of the government,” the agency said.

Fitch said Georgia's external finances are a rating weakness, and noted that political risks put a constraint on Georgia’s ratings.

“There is a risk that instability could persist with potential adverse consequences for investor confidence, capital inflows, economic policy and the credit outlook. Relations with Russia are tense and the risk of a flareup in the frozen conflict with the secessionist territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia weigh on the ratings,” the agency said.

Turkish airlines joins Star Alliance

Turkish Airlines became the 20th Star Alliance member airline on April 1.

The aviation alliance now offers customers the choice of 18 000 daily flights serving 162 countries.

“With Turkish Airlines we have gained a new member carrier with a strong home market which is also one of the fastest growing economies in the world,” said Jaan Albrecht, Star Alliance CEO.

Turkish Airlines has announced its plans to fly to 11 new destinations and add an additonal 22 aircraft by the end of the year.

Bank Republic opens Rustavi branchM

On April 4 Bank Republic opened a new branch in Rustavi.

The bank announced an aggressive expansion of its branch network across Georgia as a strategic priority in 2008. It plans to open at least one branch per month.

Rustavi branch is the twelfth outlet opened in Georgia by Bank Republic since its integration with Societe Generale Group. The bank plans to open eleven more branches and service centers by the end of 2008.

Wine symposium at CTF Caucasus Travel Fair 2008

German Technical Cooperation (GTZ) will host a wine tourism symposium at the 10th CTF 2008 Caucasus Travel Fair in Tbilisi.

Experts from Croatia, Germany, Italy, Serbia and Romania together with local experts will discuss wine tourism trends and present the best practise samples from their countries. The symposium will be held on April 10 in Tbilisi, Expo Georgia, Hall 6.