ECONOMY

In Brief

Deadline for transfer of offshore company realty extended to Sept. 30 The Finance Ministry has granted a deadline extension to the end of September for offshore companies to transfer real-estate properties in Greece on favorable tax terms to others with registered shares. The measure, designed to fight tax evasion, applies to offshore companies whose revenues from the properties exceed 50 percent of their total. They will be allowed to pay half of the applicable property transfer tax. Those that do not avail themselves of the favorable terms will have to declare their properties by October 20 and will be subject to an annual tax equivalent to 3 percent of the value of the properties. The law grants certain exemptions, notably the offshore subsidiaries of listed and shipping companies, public enterprises and organizations, commercial, manufacturing and service firms. Egnatia Bank leaves door open for possible merger with Greek peers Egnatia Bank yesterday indicated a willingness to consider merging with some of its similarly sized and oriented competitors but ruled out any participation in the speculated scheme involving the Postal Savings Bank, Bank of Attica and General Bank, which all belong to the wider public sector. «We have no problem in entering a scheme, but it has to be done according to private business criteria not public,» Managing Director Vassilis Keltsopoulos told shareholders. He added the group of «similar» banks includes Aspis and NovaBank, which have «common fortunes and proximate logic and options,» although a merger prospect «could not be realized from one day to the next.» Keltsopoulos said Egnatia is considering expanding its Egnatia Bank Romania subsidiary with the acquisition of another bank with 50 branches. «We shall not attempt another expansion abroad before the development of the network in Romania is completed,» he said. The bank, which owns the Eurocambio currency exchange bureaus and has set up travel subsidiaries, projects 2003 results on the same level as last year’s. EU energy Development Minister Akis Tsochadzopoulos yesterday signed in Brussels, in his capacity as EU presiding minister, the final texts of the directives for the deregulation of the electric power and natural gas markets. He also signed a regulation on cross-border power transactions, a decision on the new orientations of intra-European energy networks and another on the EU framework program for renewable energy sources, «Smart Energy for Europe.» Germanos Germanos Telecom Skopje, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) subsidiary of the Greek IT and telecoms equipment retailer, announced a commercial agreement with Cosmofon, the country’s second mobile operator, which is a subsidiary of Greece’s OTE and began operating on June 12. Germanos Telecom Skopje has network of 19 outlets in FYROM. Yugolot Gaming systems operator Intralot said its Serbian subsidiary Yugolot had signed a 10-year deal with the country’s games-of-chance organization, Narodna Lutrija, to install and operate a telephone betting scheme. Yugolot has already won a deal to operate betting odds games in Serbia as of September. Cyprus mobiles The Cypriot government yesterday approved an auction plan for the island republic’s second mobile telephony operating license, to be launched in October.