In Brief

ROC optimistic that impasse over two cruisers will be overcome Officials of Royal Olympia Cruises (ROC), owners of the two luxury cruise ships, Olympia Voyager and Olympia Explorer, which have been detained in the USA following legal action by creditors, yesterday expressed optimism that a solution would be found to the impasse. «Despite having repaid more than $20 million in capital and the agreed interest to (Germany’s state bank) KFW, the legal action it has taken effectively deprives the company of money to continue meeting its obligations,» said a top company source. The Greek cruise line argues that it complied with its creditors’ demand for a debt-restructuring plan, which included the next two installments, but KFW disagreed and took legal action, prompting ROC to file for protection against bankruptcy under Chapter 11. The company argues that it has successfully overcome difficulties arising after September 11 and that its vessels are now fully booked. The two ships have also been booked by Athens 2004, the organizers of the Olympic Games, as hotels for the visitors during the events. The sources said Merchant Marine Minister Giorgos Paschalidis was asked to mediate with the German government. Ferry services to isolated islands to stay under forthcoming deregulation Merchant Marine Minister Giorgos Paschalidis told seamen’s representatives yesterday that the deregulation of the country’s passenger shipping industry and opening to foreign competitors as of January 1 does not mean the abolition of all rules and will take into account the need to continue serving unprofitable island routes. «A form of unchecked deregulation can lead to a large number of unprofitable routes that would be too costly to serve, to the loss of jobs and to financial losses on the part of ferry operators themselves,» he said. Greek-Turkish trade Greece’s trade balance with Turkey showed further deterioration in the January-October period, data released by the Turkish statistics service yesterday show. A 19.6 percent rise in Greek exports year-on-year to $342.7 million was outmatched by a 44.9 percent surge in imports from Turkey to $739.6 million. The total value of bilateral trade exceeded $1 billion for the first time. In October, Greek exports were $29.7 million and imports $102.6 million. Commerce The National Confederation of Greek Commerce (ESEE) has called for the withdrawal of an amendment lifting restrictions on the operating hours of shops inside and near sports installations, saying the measure will lead to the demise of thousands of small firms and «deliver the Greek market to a few national and multinational oligopolies.» Hygeia The Hygeia hospital will obtain a 20-million-euro, five-year loan from Alpha Bank, to be mainly used for refinancing existing debt. Profit in the nine months was down 76 percent to 1.7 million euros. Bank Post EFG Eurobank has acquired the remaining 50 percent stake in Cyprus-registered Alico/CEH Balkan Holdings, which owns 91.71 percent of Bulgaria’s Bank Post.