In Brief

Banks want to buy state share in Athens stock and derivatives exchanges The seven largest Greek banks yesterday expressed interest in buying 33.3 percent of Hellenic Exchanges (HELEX), the holding company which owns the Athens stock and derivatives bourses, from the State. The seven – National Bank, Alpha Bank, EFG Eurobank, Piraeus Bank, Emporiki (Commercial) Bank, Agricultural Bank and the Postal Savings Bank (TT) – said in a letter they would buy 14 percent of HELEX shares in cash and underwrite a private placement of 19 percent with existing shareholders. HELEX, weighed down by the market doldrums, posted a pretax loss of 20.2 million euros in 2002. The seven already own about 26 percent of the company, while another 40 percent is held by other institutional and retail investors. Turkey’s president vetoes EU-inspired, labor-friendly law ANKARA – Turkey’s president yesterday vetoed a job security law that would have made it more difficult to dismiss employees, saying the EU-inspired legislation, passed recently by Parliament, contravened constitutional principles. The law was supported by the country’s labor unions. President Ahmet Necdet Sezer has often dismissed laws passed in line with IMF-backed economic reforms and an EU membership bid on constitutional grounds. Employers in Turkey had objected to the legislation, saying it limited their freedom to hire and fire at a time of slow economic recovery. Parliament may now consider the law again. The president cannot veto it a second time if the assembly passes the legislation for a second time unchanged. (Reuters) Michaniki Construction company Michaniki has won the Public Power Corporation’s tender for a 32.6-million-euro project involving a drainage gallery, tunnel and road works in Mesohora, central Greece. The project will make possible the opening of the Trikala-Arta highway and permit the commencement of the operation of the Mesohora hydroelectric power station, one of the country’s biggest, with an installed capacity of 160 megawatts. Tourism The Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) is to invite foreign tour operators and 100 journalists from Europe and the USA in April and May, as part of a public relations campaign to minimize the adverse effects of the Iraq war on Greek tourism. Final decisions on the campaign package will be adopted tomorrow. Separately, the Development Ministry will soon include skiing centers in the list of private investment schemes that may be subsidized by up to 35 percent. E-partenariat An e-partenariat – an electronic network connecting online firms from five EU members (Italy, Spain, Portugal, Germany and Greece) and five states of Central and Eastern Europe (Bulgaria, Romania, the Czech Republic, Russia and Poland) – will be ready by the end of the year, the Exporters Association of Northern Greece (SEVE), which has responsibility for the Greek leg, said after a meeting of representatives of the 10 countries in Thessaloniki on Saturday. The network, which aims to facilitate business connections and will eventually include data banks, will be open for other countries to join after its launching. Separately, SEVE said a planned Greek business delegation visit to Damascus on April 11-13 has been put off to October 23-25 due to the Mideast situation.