PPC’s third share offer planned for end of the month The Public Power Corporation (PPC) will offer the third tranche of its shares to the public around the end of the month, the Economy Ministry said. The combined offer of 36.5 million shares, representing 15.7 percent of PPC’s share capital, will include public subscription for Greek private and institutional investors, and private placement to foreign institutional investors and company employees. Private investors and employees will receive free shares as an incentive to retain them. Bank profits recovering but credit expansion seen reaching a plateau The profitability of Greek banks is recovering after three years of decline, and their average net interest margin rose to 2.72 percent in the first half of 2003, significantly higher than the EU average, thanks to easier access to deposits, the National Bank of Greece (NBG) said in its September, English-language «Economic & Market Analysis» bulletin. The trend is expected to continued in the medium-term due to the high rate of growth of lending to the private sector which, however, is forecast to decelerate from 16.9 percent in 2002 to 14.3 percent this year, mainly due to slower expansion of consumer credit that is seen as reaching maturation. Public finances Public finances left a 164-million-euro surplus in August, reducing the budget’s cumulative deficit in the first eight months. The Finance Ministry forecast the trend will continue and the annual budget will close without any significant deviation from targets set. It said revenues were right on target at 5.6 percent higher year-on-year, while expenses were 6.2 percent up, against an annual target of 6 percent. Shopping mall Piraeus Bank subsidiary Picar announced an agreement with clothing firms Elmec Sport, Vardas and Lambropoulos for operation of a department store in the building complex of the Army Mutual Fund in central Athens which is being overhauled as a shopping mall. Picar also said it is «in an advanced stage of discussions with a foreign house» which will operate as anchor tenant in the new mall, and which sources identified as Galleries Lafayette. More tenancy agreements are expected with a number of other prominent European firms in the near future. The mall, which is to occupy seven stories on Panepistimiou St, is scheduled to open about a month before next year’s Olympic Games, while the side of the block on Stadiou St is projected for opening in November 2004. It will also house cafes, bars, restaurants and two theaters, the Aliki and the Pallas. Derivatives The volume of trading in derivatives shot up to equal 93 percent of share trading volume in September, against 54 percent in August and 47 percent in July. Interest was marked in futures on the ASE/FTSE-20 index, with volume equaling 123 percent of trading in the shares comprising the index. Competition Spyros Zissimopoulos is to replace Dimitris Tzouganatos as Competition Commission chairman.