ECONOMY

In Brief

Societe Generale confirmed as buyer of major stake in General Bank The Army Providence Fund, main shareholder of General Bank, yesterday finalized the approval of France’s Societe Generale (SG) as the winner of the tender for a major stake in the Greek bank. The contract to be signed by SG includes an improved offer from 5.25 euros to 6 euros per share for a 24 percent stake and a commitment to maintain the name of the bank and the existing number of employees for two years. SG will also carry out a share capital increase that will make it a majority shareholder. The total capital inflow is estimated at 200 million euros. Gov’t rebuts allegations of irregularities in Attiki Odos The Environment and Public Works Ministry yesterday rejected as «lies» a number of allegations in a question submitted by main opposition New Democracy party deputies, regarding irregularities in the construction of Attiki Odos – the highway linking Athens Airport with western Attica – which prompted an order for a preliminary investigation by an Athens prosecutor. The ministry said the concessionaire company did not receive loans guaranteed by the government, but from the European Investment Bank guaranteed by a consortium of Greek and foreign banks. It also said that the European Commission has not taken Greece to task over toll charges, that the combination of metro and suburban railway services to the airport will ensure journeys every 10 minutes, and that allegations of cost overruns have been exhaustively answered in Parliament. Superfast Ferries Attica Enterprises’ Superfast Ferries IX and X were graded among the best of 15 ships from six companies operating on routes from the UK to continental Europe in a survey by the UK Consumer Association’s magazine «Which Holiday?» The two vessels were ranked in top position overall together with two ferries of P&O Lines, and the best in their categories for bars, utility areas and cabins. The survey covered vessels making journeys lasting over four hours. Superfast IX and X, which serve the Rosythe, Scotland-Zeebrugge, Belgium route, carried 185,000 passengers and 30,000 trucks in 2003. KLM To promote online booking, KLM-Royal Dutch Airlines is rewarding its travelers with the unique competition «10×10,» which ends January 22. Anyone who books any KLM flight from the Internet site of the company can choose among 10 prizes offered on a daily basis. What travelers have to do is to give a good reason as to why they want the specific prize. A Dutch «jury» will judge the most original motivation for each prize. Prizes include a Caribbean cruise, a skiing holiday in the Alps, a relaxing break in Italian resort, romantic Paris and many more. For more information, visit www.klm.gr. M&S The Marks & Spencer retail chain reported a 17 percent jump in sales at its 18 outlets in Greece, two in Romania and one in Croatia. Four new stores are planned for 2004.