HATTA warns of phenomenon of illegal tour operators The Hellenic Tour and Travel Agents’ Association (HATTA) said yesterday that the business of its approximately 4,000 members is seriously undercut by as many illegally operating bureaus and individuals, who do an injustice to the industry. The charge comes only days after the collapse of Manos, a major tour operator, which left hundreds of its customers stranded or denied others their holiday. HATTA Chairman G. Evangelou said that a variety of illegal operators organize trips for schools and clubs. He advised consumers to look for the special sign granted by the Greek National Tourism Organization. A similar problem exists with exhibitions and conferences, the chairman of the Hellenic Association of Fair and Conference Organizers, Tasos Koumanis, said, which besides the various dangers it poses also accounts for extensive tax evasion. OTE goes for shedding foreign holdings OTE Telecom is looking for a buyer for its 90 percent stake in Armenia’s national utility, Armentel, which it has held since 1999, its managing director, Lefteris Antonakopoulos, said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. He said OTE is similarly considering selling its 25 percent interest in Ukrainian Wave – held by its Cyprus-registered offshore company Hatwave – and its 50 percent stake in Jordan’s Trans-Jordan Telecommunications Services, which has obtained a license for installing and operating cardphones for 15 years. Ukrainian Wave faced a serious liquidity problem due to the refusal of OTE’s other partners to contribute to a new share capital increase. Olympic The new board of the labor union of Olympic Airways’ cabin crews charged that the government and the company’s management are using opaque methods to parcel out its flying business segment to subsidiaries so as to sell off the remaining part to private interests for peanuts. It said staff were being blackmailed to move to these subsidiaries. The union urged the government to follow the «clean solution of a single, viable and public Olympic Airways.» The government’s privatization advisers last month recommended Golden Aviation, led by Greek shipowner Stamatis Restis, as the preferred bidder for a 70 percent stake in OA. This is the third attempt at privatization. Hotel expands The Astir Palace hotel in the Athens suburb of Vouliagmeni has initialed a 16-million-euro deal with state-owned Hellenic Tourism Properties to buy a 40-acre nearby area on which the Aphrodite Astir Palace hotel is situated. Karelia Karelia Tobacco achieved a 62.7 percent rise in exports to 52 countries in 2002, including Britain, where it set up a new subsidiary, Managing Director Andreas Karelias said. Sales topped 8.8 billion cigarettes, 64 percent of which were made abroad. The company, which was second in Greek duty free sales behind Philip Morris, plans to invest 15 million euros in 2003. Vodafone, Germanos Cellular operator Vodafone-Panafon and IT and telecoms retailing chain Germanos have reached an out-of-court settlement over differences regarding the now-defunct chain Unifon – now absorbed by Vodafone-Panafon – which had a commercial agreement with Germanos.