ECONOMY

In Brief

Industrial output up 1.5 pct in 2002 Greek industrial output jumped 5 percent year-on-year in December bringing the rise for the whole of 2002 to 1.5 percent, the National Statistics Service (NSS) announced yesterday. The December rise followed a 2.7 percent rise in November. The NSS said manufacturing output rose 4.9 percent year-on-year after a 0.3 percent rise in November. In the whole of 2002 manufacturing output rose 0.7 percent, the NSS said. Industry accounts for about 15 percent of the output of Greece’s service-dominated economy with manufacturing amounting to slightly more than 11 percent of gross domestic product. (Reuters) Natural gas transit through Bulgaria increases SOFIA (Reuters) – Bulgaria’s gas monopoly Bulgargas said yesterday it had transported 13.515 billion cubic meters of Russian natural gas to Turkey, Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia last year, up 6 percent from 2001. The rise in gas transit boosted Bulgargas’s net profit to 99.03 million levs ($54.23 million) last year, the company said in a statement. Its 2001 net profit was 24.33 million levs. Bulgargas, Bulgaria’s only gas importer, which owns the entire pipeline network stretching over 2,200 kilometers (1,380 miles), had expanded its transit capacity to 18.7 bcm last year. Domestic gas consumption stood at 2.741 bcm last year, which was a 12 percent drop from 2001. Russia’s gas giant Gazprom, Bulgaria’s sole gas supplier, said last week it would sign a new agreement with Sofia in March to keep on exporting gas via the country to Turkey and southern Europe after 2010. Rising profit Snack and croissant maker Chipita International announced yesterday full year 2002 group net profit after minorities grew 18.2 percent to 8.36 million euros. Group sales rose 1.4 percent to 199.2 million euros. The company’s board chairman projected sales growth of 15 percent this year and earnings growth of 20 percent. Chipita shares closed 1.08 percent higher at 3.76 euros yesterday. (Reuters) Sale agreement Agricultural Bank officials and a consortium made up of jewelry company Folli-Follie and electronics retailer Germanos agreed yesterday on the sale of a 40 percent stake in Hellenic Duty Free Shops to the consortium. The agreement for the sale, for about 170 million euros was signed yesterday, but Agricultural Bank is expected to make an announcement next week. Gains Real estate company Alpha Astika, a subsidiary of Alpha Bank, announced yesterday group pretax profit grew 19 percent to 9.1 million euros on turnover growth of 6 percent to 15.6 million in 2002. Of the full year profit, a capital gain of 1.3 million euros was attributed to the sale of real estate. The board of directors will propose a dividend per share of 0.20 euros per share for fiscal 2002 – a dividend yield of 5 percent based on the share’s price yesterday. (Reuters)