ECONOMY

In Brief

Telenor in no rush to sell CosmOTE stake OSLO (Reuters) – Norwegian telecoms group Telenor said yesterday it was in no rush to sell its 9 percent stake in Greek mobile operator CosmOTE after rejecting a bid from Greece’s biggest telecom operator OTE. «We also see a market potential for this stake,» Telenor Chief Executive Jon Fredrik Baksaas told Reuters on the sidelines of a telecoms conference in Oslo. Asked whether Telenor had received a higher offer from OTE, Baksaas said: «No, not as far as I know.» Telenor rejected the offer for its CosmOTE stake from OTE earlier this month as too low. Norwegian media reported that the offer was priced at 2.2 billion Norwegian crowns ($321 million). Baksaas said the Summer Olympic Games in Athens next year would make 2004 «a strong mobile year» in Greece. Telenor, Norway’s biggest telecom group, sold half of its CosmOTE stake in April, leaving it with 9 percent which it is aiming to sell as part of a strategy to focus international mobile operations in companies where it can achieve control. Watchdog levies heavy fine for share price manipulation The Capital Market Commission (CMC) has fined two stockbrokerages and two individuals a total of 376,000 euros for manipulation of the share price of textile firm Varvaressos during the last three months of 2001. The fined are stockbrokerages Anaptyxi, based in Thessaloniki, and Devletoglou, and two members of Varvaressos’s board of directors, who were found to have engaged in concerted transactions which pushed the firm’s share price up by 85 percent during the period in question. Forthnet Alternative telecom operator Forthnet said yesterday nine-month group losses narrowed to 156,230 euros after a jump in sales. In the nine-month period a year earlier, the company had losses of 1.27 million euros. Group earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) rose 86 percent to 6.8 million euros while sales increased 131 percent to 46 million euros. The fixed-telephony division reported a more than tenfold increase in sales to 26.5 million euros, with connections surpassing 222,000 in the nine-month period. (Reuters) Papastratos Cigarette maker Papastratos, majority-owned by Phillip Morris Holland, said yesterday group pretax profit rose 10.6 percent year-on-year to 32.6 million euros. Group earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) increased 5.6 percent to 34.6 million euros on sales growth of 3.4 percent to 316.7 million euros. Phillip Morris Holland, with more than 82 percent of Papastratos, plans to delist the Greek firm from the Athens Stock Exchange once it acquires 95 percent. Its public offer for the stock ends on December 1. (Reuters) Car prices Average retail prices for new cars in Greece rose 3.2 percent in the year to October 2003, according to the European Retail Price Index published by PriceWaterhouseCoopers. The rise was 1.1 percent smaller than the average in Western Europe, but car prices in Greece remained slightly above the eurozone average, mainly due to higher taxes.