Titan profits take a hit from bad weather and weaker currencies Cement company Titan reported a 72 percent year-on-year drop in net group profit after minorities in the first quarter to 5 million euros; sales were down 8 percent to 209 million euros. Operating results were down 15 percent to 42 million. The company said in a statement that the results are not representative of the year as a whole, due to strong seasonal demand factors and heavy winter conditions on the east coast of the US and SE Europe. The large devaluation of the Egyptian pound in January also burdened results with 11 million euros, with a similar effect from the 25 percent fall in the value of the US dollar in the same period, Titan said. However, a weak dollar is expected to help the company in reducing its debt liabilities. Separately, Duty Free Shops said first-quarter pretax profit rose 29.2 percent year-on-year to 4.61 million euros on a 10 percent rise in sales to 28.26 million. Major Euro-Mediterranean energy conference gets under way The third Euro-Mediterranean conference of energy ministers gets under way at the Astir Palace Vouliagmeni hotel to examine progress toward cooperation and to formulate the framework for a new action plan. The event will be attended by the ministers of the 15 EU members, of 16 other Mediterranean countries and eight observers from the new EU members. Soros Portfolio investment guru George Soros is to co-chair, along with National Bank of Greece governor Theodoros Karatzas, the World Economic Forum’s regional conference at the Atheneum Inter-Continental hotel on Friday and Saturday, which will deal with the political and economic prospects of SE Europe. Tomorrow, Soros will attend an event organized by holding and property development firm Hellenic Land Int’l, a joint venture of Soros Real Estate Investors and DTZ Michalos. Peratikos A Piraeus court yesterday mortgaged all the personal property assets of shipowner Nikos Peratikos on the island of Samos to the sum of $3 million, following an application by Panama-based Bunker and Finance Services (BFS). Peratikos’s Pegasus shipping firm owes BFS the sum of $2.72 million, which the two sides agreed to be repaid by November 2007 at a rate of 2 percent monthly. Reports said other suppliers of Peratikos who have not been paid for months are also expected to file for similar court action. Equal The Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry is holding a conference on «Good Integration Practices of Immigrants and Refugees in Society and the Labor Market» on Friday, as part of the EU initiative Equal, which promotes greater social cohesion. Invitations have been sent to EU Social Affairs Commissioner Anna Diamantopoulou, Labor Minister Dimitris Reppas and Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyianni. Twenty-four social agencies and organizations participate in the program in the Athens area. Greece-Turkey More than 200 Greek and Turkish businesspeople are expected to attend a conference in Komotini and Alexandroupolis on Friday and Saturday to discuss prospects for collaboration and joint ventures. Strong interest is reported in construction materials and foodstuffs.