ECONOMY

In Brief

Athens leaps on the list of the world’s most expensive cities Athens ranks as the 71st most expensive city worldwide in Mercer Human Resource Consulting’s first cost of living survey for 2003, against 111st place last year. Using New York as a base measure of 100, the semi-annual survey, which covers 144 cities, compares the cost of more than 200 items in each location, including housing, food, clothing, household goods, transport and entertainment. Athens, one place below Brussels, measures 72.9, but ranks much higher than cities like Glasgow, Toronto, Barcelona, Madrid and Hamburg. Tokyo, measuring 126.1, has replaced Hong Kong as the world’s most expensive city, with Moscow in second place, according to the survey; London is the most expensive EU city, measuring 101.3. Asuncion, Paraguay, has replaced Johannesburg as the least expensive city in the survey, measuring 36.5. Mobile operator ranked 21st in world list of technology firms Stet Hellas, which operates the Telestet mobile telephony network, was ranked 21st in Business Week magazine’s «Info Tech-100» list of top firms worldwide in the fields of technology and information technology. According to a statement, Stet Hellas is the only Greek company included for the second consecutive year on the list, which is compiled after assessment of more than 10,000 firms. The top 100 are picked on four criteria: growth, return on capital, share dividend and total revenues. Stet Hellas reported first-quarter net profit growth of 71.9 percent to 19.7 million euros year-on-year, with revenue rising 26.9 percent to 183.6 million. HRS The Hellenic Register of Shipping (HRS) has reorganized to accomodate new requirements relating to the application of the International Ship and Port Facilities Security Code, hiring new specialized staff in security tactics and risk assessment. A recent agreement with the Security Ring company aims at improving prevention and dealing with illegal and terrorist acts, while another with Videotel aims at promoting training among seamen, inspectors and shipping company staff. FBB First Business Bank (FBB), which took over the network of the Bank of Nova Scotia in Greece in November 2001, reported pretax profits of 5.27 million euros in 2002. Directors told a press briefing the bank aims to near double the number of branches to 13 by the end of 2004 and expand credit to the sectors of small and medium-size enterprises, shipping and hotels. FBB is 51-percent owned by private investors, 44 percent by the Agricultural Bank and 5 percent by the Bank of Nova Scotia. Citibank Citibank yesterday announced cuts of up to 1.75 percent in its mortgage rates. The Euribor-linked variable rate comes down to 3.86 percent and borrowers may convert it to a fixed rate at any time in the future. The fixed rates for three, five and 15 years are reduced to 4.90 percent. Deposit rates for sums between 500 and 10,000 euros (CityEasy) remain unchanged at 3.0 percent. Rhodes The Rhodes municipal authority has been granted full commercial operating rights for the zone of the city’s tourist port for 40 years, with an option for 10 more. The city is to invest 15 million euros in the zone, which includes 10 hectares of land area and docking facilities for 550 vessels.