ECONOMY

In Brief

Gov’t to have another go at privatizing Olympic Airways The government expects potential investors’ expressions of interest by tomorrow for a majority stake in cash-strapped Olympic Airways (OA) and hopes to pick a group for further talks next week. «I believe we will have the opportunity to choose the group we will start talks with within the next week,» Minister Christos Verelis told reporters after a ceremony sealing the sale of a majority stake in Olympic’s catering unit to fast-food chain Everest. Verelis said Olympic needed more than 150 million euros in private capital to have viable prospects, but it was crucial that the bidders were able to present sufficient financial guarantees. He said there will be no layoffs and a new early retirement program. Repeated attempts to privatize the airline have failed in the past. Everest paid 16 million euros for Olympic Catering. Vodafone to raise stake in Panafon LONDON (Reuters) – Vodafone on yesterday announced the purchase of stakes in its Dutch and Greek units, together worth around 500 million euros, pressing ahead with a plan to mop up outstanding equity in listed subsidiaries. Vodafone said it had agreed to pay about 311 million euros for France Telecom’s 10.85 percent stake in Greek mobile firm Vodafone Panafon, boosting its shareholding to almost 63 percent. It also said it had bought a 7.564 percent stake in Libertel from financial group ING Group, lifting its Dutch holding to 77.564 percent. Vodafone, which already owns almost 52 percent of the Greek mobile company, said it would buy up to 58,948,830 Panafon shares between November 29 and the end of the year for an average price of 5.28 euros per share. This implies that some shares will have to trade at a major discount to Panafon’s current price of 5.70 euros. A source close to the deal said though the deal had not been finalized, it was likely to be paid in cash. Foreign subsidiaries The National Statistics Service (ESYE) is carrying out a pilot study of firms associated with foreign enterprises, either subsidiaries or affiliates, in the framework of the European Union’s Structural Business Statistics survey. The aim of the project is to create a Register of Enterprises per parent company, and the collection of data that will act as a policy tool for both government and firms. The data being collected concern companies’ general characteristics, main activity, shareholding interests, as well as employment per category of employees and sex, and financial data for 2001. Collection is expected to be completed by December 15, 2002. Price check Development Minister Akis Tsochadzopoulos said yesterday after a session of the National Consumers Council, which includes representatives of consumer groups, that intensive checks will be conducted to prevent profiteering as shopping levels surge before the Christmas holiday. Also a new service, the Price Monitor, will be launched early next year to keep consumers updated on the cheapest buys in all ranges of products. He said a committee was about to complete recommendations for changes in the way consumer markets operate and urged the Council to undertake initiatives.