In Brief

PPC reports hefty profit rise, fall in borrowing and personnel The Public Power Corporation (PPC) reported 157.9 percent pretax profit growth to 343 million euros in 2002, on an 11.2 percent rise in turnover to 3,437 million. Management attributed the improvement to a 3.7 percent increase in consumption and the rate rises of 3.6 percent in July 2001 and 3.85 percent in July 2002. Operating profit (EBITDA) advanced 16.7 percent to 1,025 million euros as operating expenses grew more slowly, at 7.5 percent. The number of employees was reduced to 28,698 from 29,487 at the end of 2001. Non-operating expenses fell 25.2 percent to 157 million euros. Net borrowing was reduced by 572 million euros to 4,194 million in relation to 2001, bringing PPC’s debt/equity ratio to 1.3:1 (target of 1:1 by 2005). The results included additional depreciation of 234 million euros from value readjustments of fixed capital by an independent auditor (not according to IAS). PPC will propose a dividend of 0.5 euros per share. Among other firms announcing 2002 results, EFG Eurobank said it would propose a dividend of 0.47 euros after a 14 percent drop in pretax profit to 276 million euros, and Heracles Cement a dividend of 0.30 euros per share, after reporting 16.1 percent pretax profit growth to 71.3 million euros. Greek, FYROM leaders forge economic ties Economy Minister Nikos Christodoulakis told a National Bank of Greece (NBG) sponsored conference in Skopje, the capital of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), yesterday that the Greek-subsidized investment plan for Balkan reconstruction will be fully implemented. FYROM’s Prime Minister Branko Crvenkovski said his country will offer significant business opportunities in the future. FYROM President Boris Trajkovski told Christodoulakis and NBG Chairman Theodoros Karatzas he hoped Greece, as current EU president, will soon ratify his country’s Association and Stabilization agreement with the EU and expressed satisfaction with NBG’s work in the development of FYROM’s banking system. NBG controls FYROM’s second biggest bank, Stopanska. Car prices Factory prices of new private cars (before taxes) in Greece are among the lowest in the EU along with Denmark and the Netherlands, according to a survey conducted by the European Commission on November 1, 2002 and released in Brussels yesterday. The UK has the highest car factory prices in the EU, followed by Germany and Austria. Fiat Seicento costs 59.5 percent more in the UK than in Spain. The survey included the 84 most popular models of 18 European and eight Japanese carmakers. Satellite The launching of the first Greek satellite by the Hellas Sat consortium, scheduled for March 14, has been postponed for technical reasons, OTE Telecom, which is part of the consortium, said in a statement. «A new launching date will be set as soon as possible,» after Lockheed Martin, which makes the Atlas V missile, carries out the necessary repairs, OTE said. Multirama The Athens Stock Exchange (ASE) has placed IT retailer Multirama in the «Under Supervision» category, after the company reported a negative equity of 4.75 million euros and a loss of 10.29 million in 2002