ECONOMY

In Brief

CyTA says it’s keeping options open on investing in Greece Nicosia (Reuters) – Cyprus state telecoms monopoly CyTA said yesterday it was keeping its options open about investing in Greece, a week after the opposition-controlled Parliament scuppered a plan for it to invest in Greek telecoms operator Infoquest. The CyTA board, which met on Tuesday, did not make a final decision on the project, which would see CyTA investing up to 30 million Cyprus pounds ($56.4 million) in the Greek firm, which operates mobile service Q Telecom. The refusal to allow CyTA to proceed is a setback for the government-controlled monopoly, which is eying moves into overseas markets to offset the impact of deregulation looming at home. In theory, CyTA had already secured parliamentary approval for its investments, but it had pledged to make its intentions known on specific plans to political parties. The communist AKEL and centrist DIKO parties, which blocked final approval, hold the majority of seats in the 56-member Parliament. Promota buys majority stake in Chinese handbag firm ASE-listed firm Promota announced yesterday it had bought a 63.5 percent stake in handbag manufacturer Goldwell International for $9.7 million. The 30-year-old company, founded in Hong Kong, is now based in Shenzhen, one of China’s «Special Economic Zones.» Promota plans to double Goldwell’s installations. Shipowners The outgoing president of the Greek Shipowners Association (EEE), Yiannis Lyras, warned the government that it was not doing enough to improve the sector’s competitiveness, citing taxation on shipping companies properties and the worsening finances of the seamen’s pension fund (NAT) as examples. On the other hand, he lauded the State’s efforts to overhaul the education of sea officers. Lyras, having completed two three-year terms as president, will not seek reelection. Expo The 12th annual Greek-American exhibition Hermes Expo International will take place on April 5-6, at the Trump Marina Hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey. A US business delegation yesterday ended a five-day visit to Athens and will spend today and tomorrow in Thessaloniki, making contacts with interested local businessmen. The delegation includes representatives from the city of Philadelphia, interested in closer commercial contacts with Thessaloniki. Higher profits Alpha Leasing, a subsidiary of Alpha Bank, announced yesterday fiscal year 2002 pretax profit rose 28.1 percent to 15.3 million euros on turnover growth of 11.9 percent to 150.5 million. The company’s board will propose a dividend per share of 0.20 euros, a dividend yield of 5.3 percent based on the share’s price yesterday. The company’s portfolio of leased assets rose 8.5 percent to 720.1 million euros last year with equipment leasing up 19 percent and real estate leasing increasing 31 percent. (Reuters) Buyback Balkan Export will buy back 3 million of its shares from February 17 to March 21, as part of a reverse 10-to-1 split. This represents 1.49 percent of the company’s 201,217,000 shares; the price at which these shares will be bought ranges from 0.10 to 0.70 euros.