Now Cyprus seeks aid of up to €10bn

CYPRUS has officially become the fifth euro zone country to seek an international bailout amid mounting economic problems.

The Mediterranean island has a banking sector heavily exposed to debt-crippled Greece.

However, it's feared that the country may require a bailout amount worth up to half the size of its economy.

Estimates said that aid could be anything between €6bn and €10bn.

Cyprus has been locked out of capital markets for more than a year and sidestepping EU aid earlier, it had been seeking further help from Russia, which has already loaned it €2.5bn.

The loan amount is expected to cover needs in 2012, but not in 2013, when Cyprus has €2.25bn in refinancing, including a euro medium term note (EMTN) redemption.

"The purpose of the required assistance is to contain the risks to the Cypriot economy, notably those arising from the negative spillover effects through its financial sector, due to its large exposure in the Greek economy," the government said in a statement. President Demetris Christofias (above), whose administration has been slammed by opposition for dragging its feet in both applying to the EU and taking measures earlier to shore up the island's flagging economy, was to brief his colleagues today.