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Cyprus and Russia sign protocol to develop cooperation

A protocol to further strengthen relations between Cyprus and Russia as well as to develop cooperation in a number of fields including economy, commerce, research and innovation, tourism, energy and maritime, was signed on Thursday in Moscow.

The protocol was signed at the end of the 11th meeting of the joint intergovernmental committee between Cyprus and Russia for Economic Cooperation, by Cyprus Finance minister Haris Georghiades and Ilya Torosov, Deputy Minister of Economic Development of the Russian Federation who led the Russian delegation.

Speaking during the ceremony, Georghiades referred to the close bonds of friendship and cooperation between the two countries that help lead the bilateral partnership and have strengthened in the last few days.

This is apparent in the increased cooperation and understanding exhibited between the two states and the convergence of their pursuits. He also expressed satisfaction for the spirit of cooperation and good will during the discussions, noting that the protocol signed will undoubtedly contribute to further developing and altering the financial and other relations between the two countries, an official statement said.

The two sides also confirmed that there is scope to further enhance cooperation in existing and new fields such as innovation, tourism, transfer and energy.

 

Source: Stockwatch

Retail trade up by 5.4% in 2018

Both retail trade’s turnover value and volume were up by 5.4% in 2018, according to provisional estimates published on Monday by the Cyprus Statistical Service.

In particular, on the basis of provisional estimates, the Turnover Volume Index of Retail Trade for December 2018 increased by 3.5% compared to the corresponding month of the previous year and reached 143.4 units (base 2015=100).

For the period January-December 2018, the index is estimated to have recorded an increase of 5.4% compared to the same period of 2017.

On the basis of provisional estimates, the Turnover Value Index of Retail Trade for December 2018 increased by 2.8% compared to the corresponding month of the previous year and reached 138.6 units (base 2015=100).

For the period January-December 2018 the index is estimated to have recorded an increase of 5.4% compared to the same period of 2017.

 

Source: Stockwatch

The message for BoC’s ‘Helixed’ customers

A LATE-NIGHT announcement by Bank of Cyprus last Tuesday threw a good deal of light on the goings on in the bank’s progress in 2019. The announcement covered three issues: Capital Requirements, Helix progress and the infamous Deferred Tax Asset that was passed on the bank in 2013, during the Laiki takeover.

Interestingly, these are three issues on which the grapevine chatter was picking up in recent weeks. It is no secret that the bank is planning to proceed with further NPL sales in a drive to “finish the job” as CEO John Hourican often says. It is also no secret that a new mass sale of non-performing loans (NPLs) to an external investor, if pushed quickly through, will need financing, perhaps even to the point where new capital needs to be raised.

Bank of Cyprus executives object to this, commenting that the first sale of distressed assets (NPLs) to Apollo, an investment fund, was capital accretive. The sale of loans, known as Project Helix inside BoC, was deemed a success, securing a strong price of 48 per cent of nominal value. Nonetheless, many analysts presume that capital may be needed if the bank pushes through a new sell-off in a hurry.

“If the strategy is to get rid of the NPLs at any cost, then obviously there will be some cost”, a Bank of Cyprus executive said. “The good news is that BoC maintains control of its own decisions on this. The bank will be very deliberate in how it strategises this”.

Last week’s announcement made no comment on a new sale, but it did clarify that Helix is proceeding quickly. This may have been a signal intended for customers who have been “Helixed”, seeing their non-performing loans sold off, and their collateral passed on to Apollo Capital, the fund that purchased the NPLs.

Senior bank staff have been open about the matter in recent weeks, commenting that the so-called “Helix periphery” – customers included in the sale of loans – have been engaging in intensive “rumour-mongering” against the bank.

“You look at the list of customers in Helix, and the first thought is that these are people unaccustomed to being treated like mere mortals. This treatment has created a great deal of awkwardness, even anger among them, about the way they are treated”, said a banker. “Their reaction has been to tell anyone that will listen that if the bank is now treating them this way, it must be in trouble.”

Tuesday’s announcement noted that the Bank’s participation in financing Apollo has been lowered, leading to “significant de-risking”. This is a strong signal to heavyweight business elites that the trade will be completed as planned and that their loans will be transferred to Apollo, without any substantive delays. Syndication of the loan to other lenders has been a point of contention with regulators. Tuesday’s announcement was clearly intended to put an end to that discussion by noting that the question of syndicating the loan, has been settled. Whether it succeeded in doing so, will become clear in the days to follow.

Asked to comment on what the message is for “Helixed” customers, a Bank of Cyprus executive commented dryly: “You’d better settle your obligations now if you can. Being some of the largest businesses of the country, you ought to know that delaying tactics will prove to be both expensive and ultimately ineffective. This is the signal. And many of the intended recipients are now getting it”.

At the same time, the Tuesday announcement commented on the infamous SREP exercise. This “Supervisory Review and Evaluation Process”, or SREP for short, is a feared exercise which often leads to the conclusion that Banks need to enhance their capital.  Above all, the information blackout on SREP is inevitably a painful point for the Bank’s communications team. “How do you discuss publicly something that is confidential? If you say the problem does not exist, in the eyes of people you confirm that it does. You create the smoke that tells them there must be a fire”. Coffee-shops have been aflush with gossip that Bank of Cyprus will be in need of new capital. The formal announcement addressed this gossip directly, but in a subtle way, by noting that the capital requirements of the bank remain the same as last year.

Nonetheless, the announcement was formal and was noted by the regulators, which makes it credible. Bank of Cyprus announced that it remains “comfortably above the minimum capital requirements”.

The keyword, “comfortably”, is of essence. This is an improved phraseology compared to previous announcements, where the bank characterized its capital as “adequate”. And while most people would fail to see this distinction, wording is always a major matter of discussion between lawyers and accountants. “Comfortably”, used in a formal announcement, is quite a signal.

Source: CyprusMail

Fund managers take the lion’s share in 15-year bond issuance

 

Fund Managers took the lion’s share in the issuance of the first ever 15-year bond by Cyprus, with 55% of the allocations, followed by banks (20%) and insurance and pension funds (10%), the Ministry of Finance said on Wednesday.

According to the Ministry, the transaction saw a strong and diversified international participation, with domestic investors accounting for only 9% of the final allocations and 27% of the bonds placed in Germany, Switzerland and Austria.

“The Republic of Cyprus, rated BBB- (stable) by Standard and Poor`s, Ba2 (stable) by Moody`s, BBB-(stable) by Fitch and BBBL (stable) by DBRS, successfully launched its first syndicated transaction of the year, pricing a new EUR 1bn 15-year Reg S registered benchmark due 26 February 2034” said the Ministry of Finance.

The bond carries a coupon of 2.75% and was priced at 99.903%, it added. Citi, Goldman Sachs International and HSBC were mandated as joint bookrunners on the transaction.

“The objectives of the transaction were in line with the stated Public Debt Management Strategy of the Republic of Cyprus to continue building out an international bond yield curve, manage refinancing risk by smoothening out and lengthening the debt maturity profile, enhance investor relations and expand the existing investor base” the Ministry noted.

It said that the launch of the transaction followed the successful funding exercises completed over the course of 2017 by the Republic of Cyprus and its continued market access last year.

According to the Ministry, prior to the launch of the transaction, Cyprus had conducted extensive marketing efforts, targeting investors in London, Paris, Milan, Munich and Frankfurt. Based on positive feedback from these meetings, the issuer opted for the 15-year maturity and a target EUR1bn in size.

“Final demand of over EUR 8.1bn represents the largest orderbook achieved by a Republic of Cyprus benchmark transaction since the sovereign’s return to the international bond markets in June 2014” the announcement stressed.

“The deal was priced at 17:44 CET with a cash price of 99.903% and a re-offer yield of 2.758%, thereby offering a minimal new issue concession over the theoretical fair value of the transaction” it added.

“The success of this transaction highlights the strong support from the international investor base for the Republic of Cyprus” it noted.

 

Source: StockWatch

Top Digital Trends to Watch Out for in 2019

Top Digital Trends to Watch Out for in 2019

In the ever-shifting digital marketing landscape, swiftly adapting to current trends is an absolute necessity, or you’ll risk lagging behind the competition. And digital marketers have to be more alert than ever before, responding to major shifts and social media feature roll-outs. Here are some top trends that you’ll need to pay great attention to in 2019 if you want your brand or company to really stand out!

  1. Micro-moments

Phone usage is increasing every year, with 96% of users worldwide spending 1-7 hours daily on their phones (the majority, 29%, spend 3-5 hours) creating an abundance of what is now known as ‘micro-moments’. Google defines micro-moments as moments when a user turns to their phone to satisfy an immediate need: to buy something, to go somewhere, to do something or to get information about something.

You need to identify and anticipate these high-intent moments so your company and brand can be both current and useful. Have you perhaps spotted that a given user has been searching for a Cyprus vacation over the weekend? It’s then very likely that they’ll look up more information on Cyprus the next day. If your client is a hotel or any other hospitality enterprise in Cyprus, you need to grab their attention with a targeted ad when the user is expected to check his/her phone.

Other  examples of ‘micro-moments’ are the brief windows when people wake up (people usually get up at around the same time every day and are expected to check their phone within 15 minutes after they wake up), downtime at work, and during their daily commute. Work in identifying these moments for your target audience and watch your online engagement soar!

  1. Micro-influencers

Take a moment to think about one of the main issues with traditional TV ads. You have very little control over whether or not they will reach your target audience, while you also to compete with a wide array of other companies that have paid for ads in the same time slot as you. Social media, chiefly Instagram, gave rise to a new venue for advertising via influencers, who can push your brand to a more specific audience. But much like advertising on TV, Instagram influencers grew too big for their own good, as marketers now face the same problem they once did with television.

Enter the micro-influencer. An account run by a person that is not usually famous and has far fewer followers. They are also, more often than not, focused on a single subject (makeup, cooking, tech, movies etc).

Micro-influencers are perceived as more genuine, and therefore, more trusted by their follower base, who are more likely to react to posts. Identify local micro-influencers that are ideally active in a field that serves your company and employ them to push your brand. Properly utilizing micro-influencers will lead to more engagement with your company or brand, for far less money.

 

  1. Social media stories

 Visual content is becoming more popular than ever, which is why almost all social media platforms now offer a ‘story’ feature. This casual feature, allows for more relaxed content as the videos posted disappear after a 24-hour window. The sense of urgency, to watch and interact with the video before it disappears, also works in favour of the marketer as it translates to a much more engaged audience.

In a 2018 study, Block Party estimates that there are currently 970 million accounts on Instagram, Snapchat, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger that post stories, daily. The same study shows that there’s a surge in ‘stories’ posts; an astonishing 842% increase from 2016. At the moment, 50% of businesses are publishing ‘stories’, with an average of 2.9 ‘stories’ published per week. Brands and companies that are very active on Instagram go as far as having the same number of stories as actuals posts.

Experiment with the feature and incorporate your brand identity into your stories for consistency. Strive to engage your audience by regularly posting engaging or entertaining stories on various social media platforms, and add a personalised touch to leave your mark.

  1. Chatbots and Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Digital technology is advancing with huge leaps, and while marketers were once reluctant to employ AI in their digital marketing plans, this is seriously set to change. Artificial Intelligence now boasts a great number of applications in the marketing industry, mainly in the form of chatbots and algorithms that identify trends and give businesses a time competitive advantage over competition.

Chatbots – computer programmes that can carry conversations with users based on keywords offered – are ideal for users looking for basic services and information, or even e-commerce sites. Chatbots can offer quick responses and clear instructions to users, without the active involvement of a human rep. According to Global Market Insights, the Charbot market will grow to become a $1.34 billion market by 2024.

AI can also help with buying cheaper digital real estate for your ads. Programmatic advertising helps marketers buy ad space quickly and efficiently, bypassing the RFP process, human negotiations and manually sending insertion orders. Allowing a programme to buy ads cuts down on cost and makes the process much more efficient. Investing on expanding your digital technology is a must for 2019.

  1. Humour

Nike took social media by storm back in September, when it released an ad that touched upon a hot button issue in the US, as professional athletes protested against police brutality. A deeply divisive issue, the ad pushed brand mentions for Nike up 135% in the first week, although not all of them were anticipated by the company. What Nike executives didn’t expect was that their ad would gain second wind by becoming a meme! Users were taking the ad and replacing the campaign slogan “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything” with funny or nonsensical slogans to mock other public figures.

Entertaining your audience through humour is a surefire way to get noticed and raise awareness about your brand as users respond and engage more with humorous posts than with corporate ones. Funny memes, reaction GIFs and other video based content can be used to convey a humorous message, and is especially well received, particularly in the younger demographic. Be careful though. Much like comedy, humorous posts are all about timing and context. Do your research don’t be too hasty to jump on the bandwagon, or you’ll risk a public relations disaster like the one that befell DiGiorno pizza back in 2014, when they accidentally made fun of domestic abuse.

The experts at Action Digital are on hand to help you best utilise the latest online trends in 2019 to take your business to new heights!

Source: CyprusMail

Nissi Beach – One of the Best City Beaches in the Whole World!

nissi beach one of the best city beaches in the whole world inner

A recent list compiled by Flight Network, the largest online travel agent of Canada, places Nissi Beach in Ayia NapaCyprus at number 25 out of 50! So how did they come up with this list? Well it was very well researched, with contributions to the final results coming from over 1200 agencies, bloggers, journalists and magazine editors from all over the globe. When you consider that every single beach in the whole world was taken into account for this list, it really is a great achievement for Nissi Beach to be featured on it.

Nissi Beach has always been very popular, both with the locals, and the many tourists who visit the island every year. It really is a beautiful spot. The water is so clear, and reflects the sunshine so the ocean always look perfectly blue. The perfect place to relax and unwind, enjoying the unspoilt panoramic views. Take a stroll across the fine white sand into the sea, and you’ll find it gently sloping. You can walk far out into the ocean without getting out of your depth, so it’s a great place to take the whole family. Cyprus has many gorgeous beaches, but there really is something extra special about Nissi Beach which makes it so memorable for all those who spend time there.

 

So why did Nissi Beach place so highly in this list?

so why did nissi beach place so highly in the list

It’s most likely because Nissi Beach really does have everything. Of course there’s the obvious, warm, clean water, a safe environment with life guards in attendance and breathtaking views. Enjoying 266 days of sunshine a year perhaps also helped. But Nissi Beach also has so much more to offer. Stay into the evening, and you can dance the night away at a party hosted by a world-famous DJ. The beach is very accessible and there’s also the opportunity to enjoy a wide range of water sports

Spend a day at this beach and you won’t have to go far to have access to everything you need. Right on the beach are toilets and changing rooms, comfortable sunbeds with shade-giving umbrellas, and close by you’ll find so many restaurants offering every type of cuisine you can think of. Fancy a drink? No problem, just spend time at one of the bars or cafes, watching the world go by.

Nissi Beach is also so well located. You’re close to amazing places to stay, as well as some fantastic hiking trails and important sites of great historic interest. To be on the same list as famous beaches such Bondi Beach and Miami Beach is quite amazing, but for anyone who has ever visited Nissi Beach, you’ll understand that it’s a very well deserved accolade.

Cyprus introduces stricter rules for citizenship by investment program

 

 

 

 

''The Cabinet approved a series of changes that make the Cypriot Investment Program even more targeted and trustworthy'', said Finance Minister Haris Georgiadis.

Since the start of the project in 2013, 1864 citizenships have been granted. Under the program, 6.6 billion in transactions have been recorded.

However, Georgiades said, "for the three-year period 2016-2019, the total contribution of the program to growth is 1.2% out of a total of 13 percentage points, which is the growth over the last three years."

The Minister announced that on the basis of economic findings and reports from the Council of Economy and Competitivenes, the Council of Ministers has adopted a series of changes to the program.

The major changes are:

  • The applicant must be in possession of a valid Schengen visa in order to be able to apply for citizenship.
  • Obligation to maintain the required investments for a period of at least 5 years from the date of naturalization, instead of the current 3 years.
  • Government bonds will no longer be an elegible investment for applicants.
  • An applicant who has applied for citizenship in any other Member State of the European Union and who has been refused will not be entitled to obtain Cypriot citizenship.
  • The applicant must have a residence permit in the Republic of Cyprus for at least six months prior to naturalization as a Cypriot citizen.
  • For the sake of transparency an Annual Implementation Report will be published which will include the numbers, nationality and sector of investment. 
  • A mandatory donation of €75000 to the Foundation for Research and Innovation in order to promote the creation of an entrepreneurial innovation ecosystem. In addition, this obligation is lifted if the applicant has made an investment under the criterion "Buy or Set Up or Participation in Cypriot Businesses and Companies" amounting to at least 20% of the required investment cost of the stated criterion (ie €400.000 ) to a company that is active in the primary sector of the economy or in the secondary sector of the economy, or in one of the fields of research and technology, education, health, and renewable energy one.
  • A mandatory donation of €75000 to the Cyprus Land Development Corporation, funds that are earmarked for implementing affordable housing policies.
  • Inclusion of right to invest in listed Alternative Investment Products, up to €200000. 
  • The inclusion of investments in the shipping sector in the eligible investments.
  • Reiterate ban on advertising of the program both on-line and in public spaces with particular emphasis on the visibility of the Cypriot passport and the symbols of the Republic and the EU.
  • Source: KNEWS

Cyprus introduces stricter rules for citizenship by investment program

 

 

 

 

''The Cabinet approved a series of changes that make the Cypriot Investment Program even more targeted and trustworthy'', said Finance Minister Haris Georgiadis.

Since the start of the project in 2013, 1864 citizenships have been granted. Under the program, 6.6 billion in transactions have been recorded.

However, Georgiades said, "for the three-year period 2016-2019, the total contribution of the program to growth is 1.2% out of a total of 13 percentage points, which is the growth over the last three years."

The Minister announced that on the basis of economic findings and reports from the Council of Economy and Competitivenes, the Council of Ministers has adopted a series of changes to the program.

The major changes are:

  • The applicant must be in possession of a valid Schengen visa in order to be able to apply for citizenship.
  • Obligation to maintain the required investments for a period of at least 5 years from the date of naturalization, instead of the current 3 years.
  • Government bonds will no longer be an elegible investment for applicants.
  • An applicant who has applied for citizenship in any other Member State of the European Union and who has been refused will not be entitled to obtain Cypriot citizenship.
  • The applicant must have a residence permit in the Republic of Cyprus for at least six months prior to naturalization as a Cypriot citizen.
  • For the sake of transparency an Annual Implementation Report will be published which will include the numbers, nationality and sector of investment. 
  • A mandatory donation of €75000 to the Foundation for Research and Innovation in order to promote the creation of an entrepreneurial innovation ecosystem. In addition, this obligation is lifted if the applicant has made an investment under the criterion "Buy or Set Up or Participation in Cypriot Businesses and Companies" amounting to at least 20% of the required investment cost of the stated criterion (ie €400.000 ) to a company that is active in the primary sector of the economy or in the secondary sector of the economy, or in one of the fields of research and technology, education, health, and renewable energy one.
  • A mandatory donation of €75000 to the Cyprus Land Development Corporation, funds that are earmarked for implementing affordable housing policies.
  • Inclusion of right to invest in listed Alternative Investment Products, up to €200000. 
  • The inclusion of investments in the shipping sector in the eligible investments.
  • Reiterate ban on advertising of the program both on-line and in public spaces with particular emphasis on the visibility of the Cypriot passport and the symbols of the Republic and the EU.
  • Source: KNEWS

Egypt-Cyprus agreement for “Aphrodite” field attracts great investor interest

The intergovernmental agreement signed between Egypt and Cyprus for Aphrodite gas field resulted to great interest from International Oil Companies, down streamers and financial institutions, the Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources of Egypt Tarek El-Molla told Cyprus News Agency (CNA).

In an interview with CNA, the Egyptian Minister said that after the important umbrella agreement for building a gas pipeline between the two countries, discussions are now taking place to accelerate the process after completing the constitutional and legal procedures at each country, which should then be followed by a commercial agreement for the project.

The Minister also stressed the multiple benefits for Cyprus from cooperating with Egypt in the framework of the recently established Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMGF). As he said, Cyprus could benefit from EMGF by quick monetization of its current reserves, potential increase in future discoveries and integration with other parties in the value chain, opening new opportunities of cooperation and stable technical and commercial cooperation.

Cyprus, Greece, Egypt, Italy, Israel, Jordan and Palestine participate in the East Mediterranean Gas Forum, which is based in Egypt and its objective is the optimal joint exploitation of hydrocarbon resources in the Eastern Mediterranean.

El-Molla also referred to the political benefits from such a cooperation, saying that the discussion on gas matters could be a start for further resolutions of other conflicts and sent the message to the world that the region is a “safe and secure environment for investment”.

He also expressed the view that Egypt is “the most ready option with the least risk” for gas supply of Europe, due to the good political relations with everyone and the new business environment in Egypt.

Pointing out that Egypt is the best option both economically and politically for all East Med Gas to access potential markets, El-Molla said that the existing LNG facilities and infrastructure give Egypt a competitive edge,  making it the most economic option. As for the option of East Med pipeline between Cyprus, Greece, Israel and Italy, he said that  the feasibility study for the project would take up to 2 years, “which in itself is a luxury the region can’t afford anymore”.

The Mister also described the new business environment in Egypt for oil and gas sector, after the discovery and development of the Zohr field, which as he said showcases “how business is done nowadays in Egypt”.

 

Source: StockWatch

Showery weather to continue over the coming days

Isolated rains and some storms with snowfall on the mountains are expected on Sunday, the met office said.

The temperature inland will be 16C, on the coast it will be 17C and it will be 4C on the highest mountain.

Night-time temperatures will fall to 7C inland, 8C on the south and east coasts, 10C on the west and north coasts and 1C degree in the highest mountain areas, where frost is expected.

Monday will be cloudy and Tuesday some isolated showers are expected in the afternoon while on Wednesday it will be mostly cloudy with rain or storms with more snow on the mountains.

The temperature will rise slightly on Monday to reach slightly above the average with no significant change on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Snow on Troodos Square was 51 centimetres on Sunday morning.

Source: CyprusMail

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