ECONOMY

In Brief

HEPO promotes scheme of export experts for SMEs The Hellenic External Trade Organization (HEPO) is sponsoring a program for the mobilization of specialized and certified export consultants to assist small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that wish to expand into foreign markets. The program, named Proteus, is addressed to qualified experts and professionals, and business consultancy firms. HEPO is still accepting applications. So far, 78 individual applicants and 12 consultancy firms have been selected for personal interviews. HEPO is also inviting SMEs to submit applications for inclusion in the export promotion program, to be sent either by post (86-88 Marinou Antypa, 163 46 Ilioupolis), electronically ([email protected]), or by fax (210.996.1927). Application forms are available on their website (www.hepo.gr) or contact Maria Vergidou at tel 210.998.2115. The certified consultants will either work on a part-time basis or full-time at the premises of the firms involved, which will have to shoulder at least part of the cost. Philip Morris gives notice of Papastratos shares buyout Philip Morris Holland (PMH), which now holds an estimated 82 percent of the shares of Greece’s largest tobacco industry, Papastratos, invites the owners of all outstanding shares to give notice of their acceptance of its public proposal for purchase at 18.02 euros per share. The period of acceptance opens tomorrow and will last until December 1, during which, PMH said, it will continue to buy Papastratos shares on the Athens bourse at prices not exceeding 18.02 euros. The company will apply for the delisting of Papastratos from the bourse if it obtains more than 95 percent of its shares. PMH has said it plans to invest in Papastratos, whose name it is committed to maintaining for eight years. It will also reduce dividends to below recent levels. Money back The European Commission’s proposed return of 5 billion euros of unused funds to member states from the 2003 budget includes 80.9 million euros to Greece. Cyprus casino The Cyprus Tourism Authority has commissioned a feasibility study on the opening of one or two casinos on the island, officials said. Partnerships are to be sought, possibly with Greek firms. According to initial estimates, the potential annual income from the operation of a casino(s) is about 50 million Cyprus pounds. Intralot Greek listed software firm Intralot has signed a deal to supply equipment to Chile’s Servipag, which operates a payment collection and clearing system for bills of public utilities and private firms. Servipag handles about 30 million transactions annually and the clearing facility is expected to be in place early next year. The deal is part of a six-year contract with state agency Polla Chilena de Beneficencia. Olympic hospitality Filoxenia 2004, the consortium managing the private accommodation rental program for the Olympics, has inspected 1,500 homes and is signing contracts with owners and visitors (www.filoxenia2004.com). Taxis Taxi owners will be subsidized with up to 4,500 euros to replace old vehicles with new ones, depending on engine capacity. This is the first incentive of its kind.