Insurance firms consider watchdog, contracts with hospitals The Greek Insurance Companies Association (EAEE) is to submit proposals for a new, independent watchdog for the industry, on the model of the Capital Market Commission, by the end of the week. Firms are said to be willing to finance the new body with a 0.1-percent levy on premiums. A meeting yesterday also focused on the hot issue of negotiations for 2003 contracts with the country’s big hospitals, but no decision was reached. Differences between the two sides center on acceptance of an international code of ethics on diagnostic tests, on the institution of doctor’s referrals and on the rationalization of the system of operations on patients. Sources said a tentative agreement has been reached with a few hospitals and a pilot scheme is to be tried for a period. Nevertheless, some industry representatives are said to favor even a clean break with hospitals, arguing that the six-month period that followed the termination of contracts with Hygeia and the Athens Medical Center saw costs fall by about 30 percent. PPC preparations for launching telecom arm in full swing The Public Power Corporation (PPC) will officially present its telecom subsidiary, Tellas, at the end of the month and begin accepting subscribers’ applications in early February, sources said. PPC, which has 28,000 employees, is said to be planning to offer the most competitive rates in the market. Marbles Listed firm FHL Kyriakidis Marbles plans a $2-2.5-million investment in a quarry in India, while projecting to complete another $3.5-million unit near Beijing by June. The firm already has a joint venture with the Latsis group in China, Cosmostone Shanghai. The Drama-based company also has one more productive unit in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and commercial subsidiaries in Brazil, Spain and Germany. Group net pretax profits in 2002 are estimated at 8 million euros on a turnover of 37 million. The firm is to propose a 10-percent buyback scheme to shareholders. Softex The Economy and Finance Ministry has enacted a 13.7-million-euro program that will guarantee alternative employment and a minimum income for four years for about 200 workers laid off by the Athens Paper Mill (Softex) plant in Drama, Macedonia. According to a statement, affected workers, who are only men over 50 and women over 45, will be employed in public and private organizations in the area and receive a minimum of 750 euros per month. Provisions are also made for retraining and job subsidization for younger laid-off employees. Intracom Skopje Telecom equipment and IT group Intracom has set up a subsidiary in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Intracom Skopje Ltd, with activities in the same field as the parent company plus construction projects. The new company has a start-up capital of 200,000 euros. ASE Foreign private and institutional investors owned 36.97 percent of Greece’s blue-chip stocks, constituents of the FTSE/ASE-20 index, at the end of 2002, valued at 13.7 billion euros, the Athens Stock Exchange said. At the end of September, the rate was 39.51 percent. The FTSE/ASE-20 lost 39.5 percent in 2002.