ECONOMY

In Brief

PPC asks for 4 pct rate rise, unions planning go-slows The Public Power Corporation (PPC) has asked the Development Ministry to approve average rate rises of 4 percent, citing the need to meet higher depreciation costs and realize a reasonable return on invested capital. Sources say that the ministry is not prepared to endorse the demand, arguing that it is above current inflation trends, though it is considered certain that the increases will take effect within the summer. PPC is also claiming the sums of 322 million euros from public utility debts and of 1,364 million euros as compensation for investments it has not been able to put into operation. Meanwhile, PPC labor unions today are expected to announce go-slows, protesting government plans which they say exclude the corporation from tenders of power production projects. They claim deregulation, as planned, will cause a «dramatic rise» in electricity rates. Crown Holdings unveils bid for full acquisition of Hellas Can Société de Participations CarnaudMetalbox Investments SA, a subsidiary of US-based Crown Holdings, has made a public offer to buy out the remaining 27.21 percent interest in Hellas Can Packaging Manufacturers for 5.50 euros per share. The offer represents a 19 percent premium on the firm’s share closing price of June 23. Crown Holdings already controls 72.79 percent of Hellas Can and its ultimate purpose, according to a statement to the Athens bourse yesterday, is to acquire a minimum total of 95 percent and have the stock delisted. The company also said that at present it was planning no substantial changes in Hellas Can’s operating mode or any scaling down of its productive capacity. The Greek firm, which owns three plants in Greece and two in Spain, reported net sales of 139.86 million euros in 2002. New Millenium The management of listed closed-end investment fund New Millenium has made a negative recommendation to shareholders for Deutsch Bank AG London’s public buyout offer, considering the price too low; the firm argues that the offer of 1.35 euros per share represents a 16.55 percent discount on the book value of 1.62 euros of June 19, and that this is too high given that the firm has 16.1 million euros, or 55 percent of assets, in liquid reserves. New Millenium’s share closed at 1.36 yesterday. Shareholders will have to decide on the offer within 30 days. Laxey Greek Investments said yesterday it bought a further 13,020 shares of New Millenium at 1.36 euros each, raising its interest to 8.56 percent. Goldair Airline handling agents Goldair is to set up a cargo logistics center in Thessaloniki’s Sindos industrial park with a view to expanding Balkan business. The facility, which will include storage and office areas totaling 3,000 sq.m., will be ready in October. Goldair is about to complete the acquisition of a Bulgarian subsidiary and is negotiating a similar deal in the Czech Republic. Representative offices are maintained in Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia and Poland. Hellenic Post IT firm Altec has undertaken to upgrade and expand Hellenic Post’s (ELTA) internal telecoms network, involving the supply and installation of equipment and software at 300 new bureaus. The project, budgeted at 1.3 million euros, will be implemented in the next six months.