ECONOMY

In Brief

OTE unlikely to veto Italian sale of Telecom Srbija stake OTE Telecom is not likely to exercise its right to oppose Telecom Italia’s planned sale of its 29-percent stake in Telekom Srbija back to Serbia, an OTE source said yesterday. «The issue hasn’t been discussed but we’ve said we’re not interested in the fixed-line segment. OTE’s strategy is to focus on mobile,» the source told Reuters. Telecom Italia had announced on Saturday that it had agreed to sell the stake in Telekom Srbija to Serbia’s state-owned PTT post monopoly for 195 million euros as part of its drive to shed non-core assets. PTT already owns a 51-percent stake in Serbia’s state telephone company. (Reuters) Six more companies clear bar for top public projects Six more construction companies yesterday were qualified for bidding in tenders for any size public works, after an intervention by Environment and Public Works Minister Vasso Papandreou decided that a reassessment of the value of their fixed assets was not necessary. The six, which bring the total to 13, are AEGEK, Athina, Attikat, Empedos, Mohlos and Pantechniki. Alte and Themeli are projected to follow. After Alte’s recent withdrawal from the consortium constructing the Attiki Highway concession project, its share was equally divided among the remaining 10 members. Pantechniki now holds the largest share, 19.07 percent. UniCredito favorite Serbian commercial bank Novosadska Banka said yesterday that its most likely partner in privatization planned for next year was UniCredito, Italy’s largest bank by market capitalization. Apart from UniCredito, several Greek banks have expressed interest in Novosadska Banka, state news agency Tanjug quoted the bank’s general manager, Vojin Bjelica, as saying. Novosadska Banka is one of 16 Serbian banks in which the State acquired a large stake this summer when the central bank decided to swap their debts to foreign sovereign and commercial lenders into state-held equity. Foreign-owned banks already control a third of the Serbian market. (Reuters) Portfolio investment The continuing stock market downturn is pushing the value of the assets of most non-listed closed-end investment funds below the minimum 30 million euros required for Athens bourse entry, according to data by the Union of Institutional Investors. Total asset value of the 15 such firms stood at 260.37 million euros at the end of November. The biggest portfolios were those of Attica Investment, valued at 48.23 million euros, and of Global New Europe Capital, with 35.83 million. The two and EFG Euroinvestment were the only ones among the 15 showing positive returns on assets in the 11 months to November. Wholesale prices Wholesale inflation rose 2.1 percent year-on-year in November from 2.4 percent in October, the National Statistics Service (NSS) said yesterday. Month-on-month, wholesale prices eased 0.4 percent. For the 12-month period ending November, wholesale inflation rose an average of 2.4 percent year-on-year.