In Brief

Shipowners protest operating restrictions on ferries The Passenger Shipowners Association is protesting the government’s new operating framework for the industry which provides for the withdrawal of vessels from service when they reach 30 years of age. Representatives told a press briefing yesterday they recently met with EU sea transport officials in Brussels, to whom they pointed out such a measure does not apply anywhere else in Europe. The association is also against the 3 percent surcharge levied by the government in order to subsidize non-profitable routes, and called for the immediate abolition of the ceiling on fares in economy class and other surcharges in favor of third parties. Kathimerini reports improved group nine-month results The Kathimerini publishing group’s nine-month net profit edged up to 6.8 million euros from 6.6 million in the same period last year, according to financial statements published yesterday. Group turnover was up 26.7 percent year-on-year to 61.7 million euros. The parent company’s net profit fell to 152,000 euros from 300,000 euros, mainly due to a drop in non-operating revenue and losses from the sale of own shares. Turnover was up 22 percent to 37.3 million euros due to higher revenue from circulation, advertising and printing contracts. Gross profit climbed 45.8 percent to 8.6 million euros. The group said its $27.8 million investment in shipping in April 2001 has so far generated net profits totaling $21.8 million. Results are expected to improve further in the last quarter. Fourlis Fourlis, the holding company for the Greek franchise of IKEA, the world’s biggest furniture chain, said yesterday it narrowed nine-month losses partly on strong sales in the first-ever Greek IKEA branch. Fourlis said pretax losses after minorities narrowed to 1.25 million euros compared to 14.8 million in the nine-month period in 2002, when earnings were hit by the IKEA franchise’s start-up costs, and by weak sales in an electrical goods subsidiary. The group added that sales in its electrical goods subsidiary Kotsovolos rebounded this year, helping group sales rise 11.5 percent year on year to 390.4 million euros for the nine-month period. Fourlis, which plans to open a second IKEA branch near Athens in early 2004, said sales for the furniture store alone reached 32.9 million euros in the nine-month period. (Reuters) Economic conference The National Bank of Greece (NBG) yesterday opened a conference on «Economic Development and Entrepreneurship in Europe: 19th and 20th Centuries,» at the bank’s Historical Archive (Diomedes Mansion, 146 September 3rd St, Athens). Participants include a large number of prominent European academics. NBG bulletin The National Bank’s November issue of the periodic publication South Eastern Europe and Mediterranean Emerging Market Economies Bulletin contains a review of the latest developments in the financial markets of nine countries in the region plus Russia and South Africa. The bulletin is also accessible on the Internet (http:/