ECONOMY

In Brief

OTE announces price cuts for ADSL Internet connection Telecoms operator OTE announced it will cut charges for its broadband Internet services from September 22, as it moves to stem the erosion in its share of the domestic fixed-line market. OTE cut prices of its ADSL service by half in April after the Transport Ministry pressured it to make the service more accessible to consumers. It had said the rate cut, effective until October, would be reviewed again. OTE said that the reduced monthly charges would remain in place indefinitely and that it would also cut activation fees by 39 percent and the cost of modems provided by the operator to users by 50 percent. ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) services allow for faster downloading of data over traditional phone lines. The former state monopolist remains a dominant player in Greece’s fixed-line phone market, but its share of total voice traffic has been gradually shrinking and stood at 91 percent at the end of the first half. (Reuters) Cyprus’s trade deficit drops in the first half Nicosia (Reuters) – Cyprus’s trade deficit reached a provisional 869.9 million pounds ($1.7 billion) in the first half of 2003, down from 994.8 million in the corresponding period of last year, the statistics department announced. Goods worth 1.11 billion pounds were imported in the first half, on exports worth 246.8 million pounds. The trade deficit for the first half of 2002 was bolstered by the acquisition of two commercial aircraft, the statistics department said. US acquisition Piraeus Bank announced that its New York subsidiary Marathon Banking Corporation signed a deal to buy 98.56 percent of Interbank NY for an undisclosed amount, seeking to expand in the US market. Piraeus, Greece’s fifth-largest bank in terms of assets, said it plans to merge Marathon Banking Corp with Interbank NY. «The goal of this strategic move is the merger of Interbank and Marathon Banking Corporation due to their complementary network and specialization in commercial mortgages and retail banking,» Piraeus said. It added that the merger of the two lenders would create a bank with total assets of $600 million and lead to economies of scale. Piraeus shares closed 3.66 percent higher at 7.92 euros. Piraeus, with a current market value of 1.27 billion euros, said it expects banking activities abroad to contribute at least 15 percent to group profits next year. Interbank, with five branches in New York, had profits of $4.7 million in 2002. The agreement is subject to approval from US and Greek regulatory authorities. (Reuters) Inflation Greece’s harmonized index of consumer prices (HICP), the inflation measure used by the European Central Bank, was running at an annual pace of 3.3 percent at the end of August, Eurostat announced yesterday. It dropped from 3.5 percent at the end of July. August’s figure was the second highest among EU countries, behind Ireland’s 3.9 percent and ahead of Spain’s 3.1 percent. Average eurozone inflation stood at 2.1 percent.