ECONOMY

In Brief

Moody’s upgrades National Bank’s long-term ratings Moody’s Investor Service has upgraded the National Bank of Greece’s (NBG) long-term deposit ratings from «A3» to «A2» and its financial strength from «C-» to «C.» «The upgrade reflects the major improvements in the bank’s broad franchise, both domestically and overseas, and the overall strengthening of its financial fundamentals,» said Moody’s. The agency noted NBG’s significant investment and improvements in operating infrastructure and risk management systems, which allow it to leverage its huge existing retail customer base. NBG accounts for one-third of total banking assets in Greece. Kathimerini projects rising 2003 turnover, profit to rebound Kathimerini publishing group’s annual general assembly yesterday approved the financial statements for 2002, which presented consolidated net after-tax profit growth of 67 percent to 8.7 million euros. Group turnover rose 20 percent to 68.2 million euros from 2001. Due to a fall in revenue from holdings and higher depreciation expenses, the parent company’s profits fell from 5.3 million euros in 2001 to 1.9 million in 2002, despite a 15 percent rise in turnover to 42.3 million euros which bucked a general declining trend in the media sector. Company Chairman Aristides Alafouzos projected 2003 group turnover to exceed 85 million euros and after-tax profits to rise to about 10 million euros. Shareholders approved a dividend payout of 10 cents per share, to begin on July 7. IMO Greece’s Efthymios Mitropoulos yesterday was elected new general secretary of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the UN-agency which has full authority to impose rules on safety in navigation and the protection of the sea environment worldwide. Mitropoulos obtained 32 votes against eight for Nigeria’s Monica Bafano. Hydroplanes An unnamed Canadian company has submitted a proposal for the use of hydroplanes in routes connecting isolated Greek islands with larger population centers, sources said. The Merchant Marine Ministry is said to take a favorable view of the proposal. The Canadians are proposing the use of hydroplanes of three different types and capacities of six, 18 and more than 30 passengers respectively. Power station Austria’s Va-Tech Hydro will build and equip a power station in Hellenic Petroleum’s (ELPE) industrial installation in Thessaloniki, according to a contract signed yesterday. ELPE also signed a long-term maintenance contract with US General Electric. The plant is projected to be launched in June 2005. 2004 The Hermes Accessible Choice program, developed by Athens 2004, the organizers of the Olympic Games, and the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EBEA), aims to improve access to businesses by people with special needs in view of the Games. Firms may submit applications to EBEA (7 Academias, 106 71, tel 210.338.2219, or [email protected]) by September 30. HOL Internet provider Hellas OnLine has launched new high-speed ADSL home connection packages and plans to announce similar packages for professional and corporate users.