ECONOMY

In Brief

Athens, Nicosia, Tel Aviv to devise Mediterranean index Executives of the Athens, Tel Aviv and Cypriot bourses announced yesterday that a planned Mediterranean stock market index, designed to provide a new benchmark for the region, will be ready by the end of May. The three stock exchanges said in a joint statement that the FTSE-MED 100 index will be made up of 100 stocks from the three exchanges, some of which are also listed on US and other European stock markets. The index will have a market capitalization of almost $50 billion. The names of the constituents will be finalized by global index provider FTSE Group in April. The exchanges said they hoped to launch the index in the third week of May. Other Mediterranean exchanges will also be invited to participate in the index, they said. Representatives of the three bourses have been talking for more than a year about creating a tracker of select stocks with FTSE International. Commission allows Intracom to buy stake in Siemens BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Commission gave permission yesterday for Greek telecoms equipment maker Intracom to take a 41 percent stake in the local branch of German industrial giant Siemens AG. «The proposed operation creates overlaps and leads to high market shares in Greece on several markets for telecommunications equipment,» a Commission statement said, adding the deal should be considered in the context of the Europe-wide market rather than just the Greek, given cross-border standards, low transport costs and the international supply strategy of network operators. «Furthermore, the Commission also concluded that Siemens and Intracom are not likely to coordinate their competitive behavior, given the presence of strong competitors, substantial countervailing buyer power of telecommunications operators and the relatively small size of STI,» the Commission said. At the time the deal was announced, the companies said Intracom would buy a 29 percent stake of the unit from Siemens and another 12 percent stake from National Bank of Greece. Intracom and Siemens would then hold 41 percent each, with National Bank retaining 18 percent of the entity, called Siemens Teleindustrie. Siemens’s Information and Communication Networks said the sale of a stake to Intracom was part of its strategy of boosting production units around the world and would allow it to offer expanded services in Southeast Europe. Analysts said they estimated the acquisition to have cost upward of 70 million euros ($75.4 million). General Bank A renewed effort to find an investor in, and strategic partner for, General Bank will begin this week. The bank will choose an adviser – either J.P. Morgan or Rothschild’s – by tomorrow. Contrary to the previous unsuccessful quest, General Bank will also explore the possibility of finding a partner among local banks. Preliminary talks have already taken place with all large Greek banks, as well as France’s Societe Generale and Caisse des Depots et Consignations and Italy’s Unicredito and Banca San Paolo di Torino. General Bank is offering 28 percent of its shares to the prospective partner.