ECONOMY

In Brief

DOL considers integration plan with Germany’s WAZ Greece’s biggest publishing group, Lambrakis Press (DOL) and Germany’s Westdeutsche Allgemein Zeitungsverlag & Co Zeitschriftenu Beteilingungs-KG (WAZ-ZB) have exchanged letters expressing an intent to set up a joint holding company, with respective shares of 51 and 49 percent. According to a statement sent to the Athens Stock Exchange, the Lambrakis family, which owns 65.5 percent of DOL, is considering contributing a major stake to the new company. Final agreement on the scheme is subject to confirmation of legal, financial and other data and a more detailed announcement will follow, said the statement. «Retaining the majority of shares, DOL and WAZ are studying the prospects for joint participation in multiple planning for growth in areas of common business interests. The eastern Mediterranean, as well as the continually enlarging European Union dictate new growth, social and business approaches of a cross-border character,» it added. DOL has a market capitalization of 492 million euros. C/A deficit grows on reduced EU and tourism inflows Greece’s current account deficit swelled 13.57 percent to 5.06 billion euros in the first five months of the year, compared to the same period in 2002, mainly as a result of higher fuel prices and a decline in European Union inflows, according to Bank of Greece data. Funds from the European Union were down 24.55 percent and earnings from tourism – the country’s biggest currency earner – declined 10.29 percent. At the same time, the trade balance, excluding fuels, shrunk 6.13 percent but was 38.60 percent higher including fuels; exports were up 5.79 percent and imports down 2.21 percent. There was a 182.8 percent rise in direct investment outflows to 768.6 million euros, mainly due to the sale of a stake Norway’s Telenor held in CosmOTE, Greece’s biggest mobile operator. A net inflow of 10.1 billion euros for indirect investment was registered, mostly as a result of higher demand for Greek government bonds. Currency reserves stood at 4.8 billion euros at the end of May. Employment Social Affairs Commissioner Anna Diamantopoulou said after briefing Prime Minister Simitis on EU financial planning yesterday that Greece and Italy are the only EU countres with a declining rate of unemployment. But, she added, the country also has the least economically active population, particularly for those over 55, and the EU is studying how such low rates will be raised. Athens borrows The City of Athens yesterday announced the conclusion of agreements for loans totaling 180 million euros, to be largely used for projects related to next year’s Olympic Games. One loan of 150.5 million euros was concluded with the Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS) and a second for 29.5 million euros with the Agricultural Bank of Greece and Morgan Stanley, said a press release. Both loans are of a 15-year duration, at a rate of 2.5 percent, and guaranteed by the Greek government. The City of Athens has a 433-million-euro investment program for the 2003-2006 period.