ECONOMY

In Brief

SVVE urges end to unfavorable treatment of northern Greece The Federation of Industries of Northern Greece (SVVE) yesterday complained that its representations to Prime Minister Costas Simitis concerning issues of importance to the region are «filtered in a way that alters their substance» as a result of inadequate evaluation by ministers and advisers. Speaking at a press briefing after their customary annual meeting with the prime minister and the leader of the opposition ahead of Simitis’s planned keynote speech at the Thessaloniki International Fair on Friday, SVVE officials also complained of delays in the implementation of projects in northern Greece and called for higher allocations of EU investment subsidies not yet disbursed. SVVE Chairman Dimitris Symeonidis said the current revision of the investment incentives law still falls short of requirements, maintaining the link between investment and jobs and equating the Athens and Thessaloniki regions. He said SVVE asked New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis to work toward eliminating the gap between center and regions. OTE response after shares suffer heavy losses on ASE OTE Telecom said in a statement yesterday that its half-yearly results released on Thursday (under both Greek and US accounting principles), showing an 8 percent drop in group net profit, are an accurate reflection of its financial situation. A reduction in operating costs will result largely from a continuing voluntary retirement program. The statement, sent to the Athens bourse, was in response to unfavorable press reports and after OTE’s share came under increasing pressure. It lost 7.24 percent on Friday and 3.81 percent yesterday. Investment bank Goldman Sachs downgraded OTE to «underperform» from «in-line» before yesterday’s fall. It was the second downgrading after Lehman Brothers’ on Friday to «underweight» from «equal weight.» The same bank yesterday upgraded its rating and price target on mobile operator Vodafone-Panafon but lowered its rating on rival Cosmote. It raised its rating on Vodafone-Panafon to «overweight» from «equal weight» and raised the target price to 7 euros from 6 euros. It cut its rating on Cosmote to «equal weight» from «overweight» but increased the price target to 12 euros from 11.5 euros. PMI rises The Greek Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) rose to 52.3 in August from 51.1 in July, reaching its highest level since January and staying above the 50 line that divides growth from contraction, NTC Research, which compiled the survey, said. «The rise in the PMI was underpinned by sharp growth in output and new orders,» NTC added. The rise, marking the fourth consecutive month of expansion, showed Greece’s manufacturing sector continued to outperform the 12-nation euro area, which saw another contraction, albeit at a slower pace, as the headline index rose to 49.1 from 48.0 in July and close to the consensus forecast of 49.0. (Reuters) Medical profits slump Listed hospitals reported drops in first-half pretax profits, mainly as a result of the cancelation of agreements with insurance companies for care to card-carrying patients, and despite rises in turnover. Athens Medical said group income fell 39 percent to 5.3 million euros, Iaso reported a 91 percent decline to 0.99 million and Euromedica a 56.9 percent drop.