NICOSIA, Feb 19 (Reuters) – Laiki Investment LI.CY, a subsidiary of MarfinPopular Bank CPB.CY, said on Tuesday after-tax profit for 2007 rose to4.6 million Cyprus pounds ($11.3 million).

The company had reported after-tax profits of 4.2 million Cyprus poundsin 2006.

Laiki Investment last year said it was in advanced merger talks with CLRCLR.CY, another investment company. A Marfin Popular Bank spokesman statedtalks were still in progress.

The outlook for the Cyprus market looks good for 2008. According to anotherrecent newspaper article (Financial Mirror) Citibank analysts recommend severalbanks – Marfin Popular Bank, Bank of Cyprus, Hellenic Bank, and National Bankof Greece-Ethniki – in the Greece-Cyprus region as top buys showing that theregion enjoys and will enjoy a good year in the year ahead.

Cyprus, one of the most dynamic in the European Union, has enjoyedconsistently higher GDP growth rates than the EU average with GDP per capitaover 80% of EU 15. Having a low unemployment rate, one of the lowest corporatetax rates in Europe and beneficial tax treaties makes the region an attractivecentre for investments from throughout the world. Recent development to grantlicences for oil and gas exploration in the areas between Cyprus and Egypt lookpromising. In the turbulent financial market since the subprime crisis, theCyprus market has shown better performance than most European markets.

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