ECONOMY

In Brief

Marfin sets eyes on retail banking, considers stake in General Bank Extensive realignments are expected in the banking sector in the next one to two years at the latest, and Marfin Bank’s strategic target is to expand into retail banking, the firm’s president Andreas Vgenopoulos told a press briefing yesterday on the group’s impending reorganization plans. These center on the merger of Marfin (Maritime & Financial Investments), media Comm Group and portfolio investment firm Marfin Classic into the Marfin Financial Group (MFG), scheduled to be completed by December. Vgenopoulos said the group was prepared to consider the acquisition of a strategic stake in General Bank – which is being put up for sale for the second time – but this would depend on terms and due diligence in General’s books. He said MFG would have liquid funds of 130 million euros and its borrowing capacity was projected at 150 million. Mandatory electronic submission of VAT reports put off until July 2004 The Finance Ministry has extended the deadline for all 615,000 businesses and self-employed persons keeping B category books to submit their quarterly value-added tax statements electronically to July 2004 (for the second quarter of the year). The measure was originally to apply as of next month. Taxpayers who have already submitted statements electronically may continue to do so. Bond loan EFG Eurobank on Friday completed in London the issue of a five-year, 500-million-euro bond loan, designed to boost its liquidity with medium- to long-term capital. The loan, with a variable rate based on Euribor plus 0.35 percent, was exclusively issued to European and Far Eastern institutional investors. Bank officials said the fast growth of loans, which now total about 2.5 billion euros, can no longer be met through the slow rate in the growth of deposits. Katselis-Loulis Listed bakery firm Katselis is expanding its presence in Romania with the acquisition of stakes of up to 10 percent in two local subsidiaries, Mopan and Moara, of also listed Greek firm Loulis Mills. Katselis already has a stake in the Loulis-owned firm Titan. The Loulis group has invested more than 240 million euros in the Balkans in recent years; sales in the last quarter have more than doubled. Katselis also has interests in Nigeria. Eurodrip Irrigation systems firm Eurodrip has initialed a $2 million deal with Ethiopia’s Agri-CEFT to develop a flower farm and install equipment. Eurodrip, which is targeting expanding its export network in the Middle East, has also been assigned the extension of a project in Tanzania on behalf of German coffee multinational firm Tchibo. ELBO The Thessaloniki Urban Transport Company denied a claim by the Hellenic Vehicle Industry (ELBO) that it had definitively won an international tender for 56 articulated buses. Officials told Kathimerini bids were still being considered and the main criterion in deciding the winner would be the technical and economic study.