In Brief

Shipowners fear effect of measures after Prestige Greek shipowners who met in London on Monday said measures promoted by the European Commission after the Prestige environmental disaster off the coast of Spain last November will not augment environmental protection or safety in navigation, as they are not based on proper studies, but aim to serve transient political expediencies and «will have most serious consequences on shipping and the Greek economy.» Further, they welcomed the Greek EU presidency’s compromise proposal on the timetable for the withdrawal of mono-hull tankers, which will soon be discussed at the Transport Ministers Council, and urged the Greek government to speed up a second package of measures to make Greek-registered ships more competitive. Coastal shipowners today are to discuss with Economy Minister Nikos Christodoulakis the issues of rising fuel prices and what they consider as underpriced economy-class fares. They said in the last few months their wage bill has risen 4.5 percent, insurance premiums 46.3 percent, maintenance costs 24.7 percent and other expenses, 13 percent. Separately, the European Union and China have reached agreement on further liberalizing sea transport between their ports, unlimited access to and non-discriminatory treatment in ports. Minister expects small fall in number of tourists Uncertainties arising from the prospect of a war in Iraq are bound to affect Greek tourism but only to a small extent, Development Minister Akis Tsochadzopoulos said at the ITB tourism fair in Berlin. «There are clear delays in bookings in all southern European countries… with some effect on the summer months. But there will be a deficit in April and May which we hope to make up at the end of the year,» he said. Tsochadzopoulos said he hoped Greece will reach agreements with its Balkan neighbors, including Turkey, by the end of the year for joint packages in order to attract visitors from distant markets (such as the USA, China and Russia). Olympics Interoute, a Pan-European telecoms operator, said yesterday it had won a battle for the contract to supply Greece’s OTE with network access in Western Europe for the 2004 Olympics. Interoute Chairman James Kinsella said the «multimillion-euro» contact was only the start of a 15-year relationship that the firm plans to establish with OTE (Reuters) PPC US-based Fidelity Investments currently holds 5.02 percent of the Public Power Corporation (PPC), according to the latest shareholding data released by the Athens bourse. The government’s share has fallen to 67.4 percent. PPC’s net worth rose from 462 million euros in 2001 to 3,189 million in 2002 after value readjustments of fixed assets. Wine The Agnelli Group has given up its controlling stake in prestigious French winemaker Chateau Margaux, following the unraveling of a shareholding pact with the chateau’s part-owner, Corinne Mentzelopoulos. Under the deal, announced by the two sides Monday, the Agnellis will swap their 75 percent stake in Chateau Margaux for Mentzelopoulos’s 9.6 percent stake in Exor Group, a French conglomerate controlled by the Agnellis. Mentzelopoulous thus becomes sole owner of the chateau, which has been making Bordeaux since the 16th century. (AP)

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