In Brief

DEPA Gas Natural deal expected early next year The government expects to finalize a deal early next year to sell Spain’s Gas Natural a 35 percent stake in Greek gas company DEPA for around 250 million euros, a senior official said yesterday. «We are close to signing a deal with the Spanish. It is likely that a deal will come by mid-January, maybe earlier,» the official, who declined to be named, told Reuters. Gas Natural was the only suitor to present a binding offer for the DEPA stake in late September. A deal has since stalled, with Gas Natural saying it was seeking assurances from the Greek State and shareholders, including a management pact with fellow shareholders and an investment protection agreement against regulatory changes. (Reuters) WAZ and Lambrakis publishers abandon negotiations over stake Negotiations between media group Lambrakis and German publishers WAZ for the latter’s acquisition of a minority stake in the Greek publisher broke down yesterday. Industry sources attributed the deal’s failure to Lambrakis’s inability to convince the German group of its true financial standing. After conducting due diligence, the German group, the sources said, demanded a majority 51 percent stake in Lambrakis, which the latter rejected. In a brief statement, Lambrakis attributed the failed negotiations to the inability to complete «procedures for a development program, particularly in the Balkan region, on which the German publisher’s minority stake would have been based.» The Greek group added that it would continue negotiations with other European publishers. Balkan pipeline The Albanian government yesterday approved the route of an oil pipeline linking Albania’s Adriatic Sea port of Vlora with Bulgaria’s Black Sea port of Burgas. International companies are planning to build a $1.2 billion trans-Balkan pipeline through Bulgaria, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Albania that will transport 750,000 barrels of oil per day, or 40 million tons per year. The government approved a 160-kilometer (96-mile) route for the pipeline, which is expected to bring in $50 million annually. No time was given for construction. (AP) Microsoft The government of FYROM signed an agreement with Microsoft yesterday, pledging to apply the company’s licensed software in all institutions and services. The deal will cost FYROM US$3.9 million. In return, Microsoft will invest US$6 million over the next four years in FYROM. It will open an office in the capital, Skopje, and help apply its software in government institutions. (AP) Alpha merger Greece’s second-largest lender by assets said 11,837,104 new shares following its merger with its subsidiary Alpha Investments will be listed for trading on December 5. Alpha Bank, which absorbed the closed-end fund, will cancel 1.27 million of its shares held by Alpha Investments. On December 5 Alpha Bank’s new outstanding share total will be 195,738,664 with a par value of 4.87 euros. (Reuters)