ECONOMY

In Brief

NBG targets US bank as union plans get under way Only a few days after the announcement of its megamerger with Alpha Bank, the National Bank of Greece (NBG) is preparing to reveal its next move, the acquisition of a small US bank, sources said yesterday. The targeted concern is said to have assets of about $600 million and will be acquired by Atlantic Bank, a New-York based NBG subsidiary, whose board of directors is meeting tomorrow. Meanwhile, the executive board of the new, merged bank will hold its inaugural meeting this week to discuss the plan for the legal procedures required, estimated to take about six months. Alpha’s Chairman Yiannis Costopoulos said yesterday that compared to other European banks, the new bank is estimated to be of similar size to Commerzbank, Credit Lyonnais and Portugal’s PCB. Costopoulos had a two-hour meeting with the bank workers’ union (OTOE), where he stressed the need for collaboration to tackle the serious issues relating to the creation of a single social security fund and the extension of bank working hours. OTOE today is meeting with NBG Chairman Theodoros Karatzas and tomorrow with Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis. Tsochadzopoulos sees no privatization delays There will be no deviations in the timetable for the part-privatizations of Public Power Corporation (PPC), Hellenic Petroleum and Public Gas Corporation, and the deregulation of markets, Development Minister Akis Tsochadzopoulos assured at his first press briefing since recently assuming the post. He said, however, that the plans would not be promoted at the expense of employment or social cohesion. The exact timetable for the PPC privatization will be known in three to four weeks, he said. Tsochadzopoulos stressed the role of the National Council for Competitiveness, whose inaugural session he chaired, saying it would be one of the basic tools for helping the country converge with other EU economies. Small-cap index revised. The Athens Stock Exchange said yesterday it will add 13 firms to its small-cap index and delete nine, effective today. The new constituents of its small-cap index will be the following: Quality and Reliability, General Clinic, Space Hellas, A.S. Company, Texapret, Douros, Atermon, Grigoris, Evrofarm, Atlantic, Cor-Fil, Ktima Lazaridis, and Microland. The nine current constituents to be deleted include Metalloplastiki, Everest, Xifias, Seafarm, Informatics, Athens Medical Faliron, Attica Publications, Sigalas, and Electra. (Reuters) Kathimerini buyback scheme. At an extraordinary meeting yesterday, shareholders of Kathimerini SA approved a share buyback for up to 5 percent of its outstanding shares over the next 12 months, at prices ranging from 3 to 30 euros. The assembly also approved the conversion of the nominal value of the company’s share and its share capital into euros. These are 0.60 euros and 10.2 million euros respectively. Kathimerini shares jumped 10.88 percent to 6.32 euros on the bourse yesterday. For consumers, the simplest trip to the supermarket costs millions. A jar of jam can cost 5 million lira ($3.20). The cheapest new cars retail at 10 billion lira ($6,400), though there are few buyers.