Commission kicks off race for CSFIV funds The regions of Attica, central mainland Greece and the southern Aegean will probably be among EU regions exempted from the Fourth Community Support Framework (CSFIV) of investment subsidies after the expiry of the third in 2006, having already exceeded the criterion of 75 percent of average EU income per capita (2000 data), according to estimates in an interim report by the European Commission released in Brussels yesterday. The document will shape the dialogue with a view to drafting a final report at the end of the year, which will include proposals for the future of CSFs. The Commission says that most CSF funds must go to new members after 2006, as income inequalities are projected to rise from 2.6 times in 15-member EU to 4.4 in the 25-member Union. Regional Policy Commissioner Michel Barnier said the aim is for the flow of funds to richer regions to be reduced gradually throughout the fourth CSF. Greeks in $575 million deal for 19 tankers NYSE-listed General Maritime has agreed to buy 19 tankers from Metrostar Management for $575 million, making it the second biggest medium-size tanker company in the world. «We are very happy with the deal. Our patience and careful approach has given us the opportunity to acquire high-quality, second-hand modern vessels which will reduce the average age of our fleet and daily cost per ship,» said Peter Georgiopoulos, chairman of General Maritime, which will now own 28 Aframax and 19 Suezmax tankers totaling a capacity of 5.62 million tons. The deal, coordinated by shipping agents Clarksons and Nordea bank, will be implemented between March 1 and April 30. Metrostar Management is owned by Theodoros Angelopoulos, who appears to be temporarily abandoning his maritime activities. Two years ago, Angelopoulos sold his cargo vessel company Metrobulk also en bloc. Market circles said two tankers ordered by Metrostar from Korea’s Samsung Shipyards are considered to be part of the deal announced yesterday. Royal visit His Royal Highness the Duke of York yesterday visited the Elefsina Shipyards in his capacity as UK special representative for trade and international investment. The shipyard currently has a contract to build five Super Vita missile carriers for the Hellenic Navy, designed by Vosper Thornycroft. HRH Prince Andrew also had the opportunity to visit HN Museum Ship Averoff and the trireme Olympias, a replica vessel being restored in Elefsina for the 2004 Olympics. Romtelecom The Romanian Cabinet yesterday approved a deal for the acquisition of a 54 percent stake in the country’s telecom utility, Romtelecom, by Greece’s OTE, whose vice president, Giorgos Skarpelis, is in Bucharest to sign the deal. Fishery merger Euroholdings Capital & Investment and Seafarm Ionian yesterday signed a long-awaited agreement to merge, with a view to achieving greater synergy and improving their capital structure. Irish The number of Irish visitors to Greece is projected to rise 10-15 percent to about 100,000 in 2003, according to Greek tourism officials. A number of Irish tour operators are said to be planning to launch charter flights to Crete, Rhodes and Zakynthos.