ECONOMY

In Brief

Gov’t sees inflation difficulties, will set example with utilities Rising oil prices and bad weather will make February a «difficult» month for inflation but the government will set an example for the private sector by compressing public utility rates, Economy Minister Nikos Christodoulakis said. According to unofficial estimates, inflation is likely to rise to as much as 4 percent this month, from 3.1 percent in January. Greek inflation is about double the EU average. Christodoulakis conferred with Development Minister Akis Tsochadzopoulos and bank chairmen yesterday to discuss issues relating to funding private investment schemes in the power sector. Christodoulakis said the banks have undertaken to draft a framework for the funding of projects budgeted at between 200 and 300 million euros each. He warned that the Public Power Corporation, the current major supplier, will remain intact in the deregulation process and that rates will not go up to serve the interests of prospective private operators, with whom a meeting will take place in a month. Cement, construction firms hold their own in 2002 results Titan Cement said 2002 group net profit after minorities rose 11 percent year-on-year to 114 million euros, on turnover growth of 5 percent to 1,036 million. The group said the significant slide in the value of the US dollar and the Egyptian pound vis-a-vis the euro during 2002 affected operating profits, which, nevertheless, rose 19 percent to 292 million euros. Titan said domestic demand in 2002 was strong, driven by public projects and robust private building activity. The group will propose a dividend of 0.85 euros per share versus 0.80 euros for 2001. Construction group J&P Avax said 2002 pretax profit after minorities grew 10 percent to 44.7 million euros on turnover growth of 21 percent to 445.5 million. Peer Michaniki said 2002 group pretax profit after minorities remained at 2001 levels, at 11.5 million euros. Group turnover grew 3.9 percent to 119.8 million euros, with the backlog of undelivered projects totaling 300 million euros. Intracom Telecoms equipment and software maker group Intracom reported a 37 percent pretax profit fall to about 100 million euros in 2002 year-on-year, on sales of about 800 million, according to a statement from the Association of Institutional Investors. Operating earnings (EBITDA) were reported at around 211 million euros. In 2001, Intracom reported group sales of 962.1 million euros and EBITDA of 229.5 million. Gaming and lottery systems operator Intralot, a group subsidiary, announced 20 percent pretax profit growth to 75 million euros, on a 13 percent turnover rise to 319.3 million. Olympic Hospitality Sportius Hospitality is the first Greek company specializing in sports tourism and aims to be the biggest organization providing accommodation during next year’s Olympics, company officials said in a presentation yesterday. He said 5,500 rooms and cabins will be available daily, including those of two luxury cruise ships from the Holland America Line, the MS Oosterdam and MS Rotterdam, which will dock in Piraeus. Sportius Hospitality, set up by travel groups Amphitrion and MIBS, will be the official hospitality and ticket agent for the national Olympic committees of Russia, Ukraine and Cyprus.