ECONOMY

In Brief

Bank of Cyprus 9-month results hit by high provisions NICOSIA (Reuters) – The Bank of Cyprus said nine-month group net profits fell 45.7 percent to 9.8 million Cyprus pounds ($19.79 million), hit by higher provisions. The bank increased loan-loss provisions to 53.6 million Cyprus pounds in the first nine months, about 61 percent higher than the 33.3 million in the same period a year earlier. A «difficult» year for the Cypriot economy meant the bank could not exclude the possibility of a further increase in loan-loss provisions at the end of the year, Bank of Cyprus said. The bank, listed in both Cyprus and Athens, said its operating profit showed 9.9 percent growth to 71.6 million Cyprus pounds. Its operations in Greece contributed 28.6 million pounds to operating profits, or 40 percent. That contribution was 34 percent up on the corresponding period of 2002, the bank said. Group operating profit for the whole of 2003 was not expected to differ significantly from those of 2002, when the bank recorded 97.6 million in operations, the bank said. The group, the largest in Cyprus, said the nine-month operating profits were up despite a central bank directive introduced in January instructing banks to stop including interest from problem accounts. Deputy claims impropriety in payment for EPA acquisition Main opposition New Democracy party deputy Nikos Costopoulos claimed yesterday that US-based energy firm Synergy’s acquisition of a 30 percent stake in publicly controlled Attica Gas Supply Company (EPA) two years ago was effected through a 29-billion-drachma (about 10-million-euro) loan from the state-controlled Agricultural Bank rather than through the import of foreign currency. In a press release, he charged that Synergy acquired the stake with the Greek people’s money, without assuming any risk and with only the shares of EPA as collateral for the loan. Synergy participated in the acquisition jointly with oil company Shell. Construction results Greece’s largest construction group Hellenic Technodomiki said nine-month group pretax profit after minorities rose 14.2 percent year on year to 84.3 million euros. Turnover for the group, which includes Aktor, rose by 36.6 percent compared to the same period in 2002, to 713.4 million euros. Separately, construction group J&P Avax said nine-month group pretax profit after minorities rose 23.5 percent year on year to 39.6 million euros on turnover growth of 17 percent to 372 million euros. The group, with a current market value of 342.6 million euros, said results were in line with its full-year forecasts, which saw pretax profit after minorities at 55 million euros for 2003, with sales topping 510 million. (Reuters) New PPC plant The Public Power Corp (PPC) said engineering firm Metka had won a 194-million-euro contract to build a natural gas power plant in Lavrion, south of Athens. The plant, with a capacity of 385 megawatts, would help meet rising demand for electricity and increase the reliability of the grid while keeping costs down, PPC said. The new plant is projected for completion in 26 months.