ECONOMY

In Brief

Commission takes Greece to task over coastal shipping deregulation The European Commission yesterday decided to refer Greece to the European Court for obstructing the entry of foreign operators in coastal shipping. Greece formally abolished such restrictions 14 months earlier than the expiry of a grace period on January 1, 2004, but the Commission charges that it raised obstacles effectively annulling the process of deregulation, such as requiring seamen of foreign operators to prove an adequate knowledge of Greek. The Commission said Greece failed to make improvements despite being notified. ETA bracing for report that may affect tourism development policy Hellenic Tourism Properties (ETA), the subsidiary of the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO), said yesterday it was not proper for anyone to prejudice the judgment of the Council of State on GNTO’s transfer of property assets to ETA since 2001. Press reports said on Monday that a Council recommendation due out today will opine against a particular transfer, on the grounds that ETA operates under private economic criteria and that the transfer of public property to it and its concession to private operators is unconstitutional. ETA noted in a statement that the relevant laws were passed by both major parties, that GNTO has sold or leased many of its assets since 1960, and that the practice, which serves the public interest in a number of ways, is common abroad. AIA Athens International Airport (AIA), a 55-45 percent joint venture between the Greek State and a consortium led by German builder Hochtief, said it served 12.3 million passengers last year, an increase of 3.6 percent, and handled 110,000 tons of cargo, a 2.7 percent rise on 2002. AIA said passenger traffic in the final quarter jumped nine percent year-on-year to 2.8 million. The airport can handle 16 million passengers annually. Telestet Mobile telephony operator Stet Hellas said yesterday it will change its service mark from Telestet to TIM, the acronym of its parent company, Telecom Italia Mobile. According to CEO Nikos Varsakis, the change of service mark will be soon followed by the launch of a new series of products, and a new design and colors for the approximately 160 Telestet Centers throughout Greece. The company said last month it plans to launch third-generation services, initially in Athens and Thessaloniki. Bond issue Greece’s auction of 1.8 billion euros of three-year notes yesterday met with strong demand amid revived interest in short-dated eurozone issues. The Public Debt Management Agency’s (PDMA) auction of 3.25 percent government notes maturing on June 21, 2007 was 3.15 times covered and the weighted average yield was 3.01 percent. The agency set aside 360 million euros of the notes for second-day bids. (Reuters) Siemens Siemens Hellas has been awarded two distinctions by the parent company, one as the group’s best software development center outside Germany, and the Top+ Business Award for Regional Companies for its results and pilot management scheme. ASE The telephone number of the Athens Stock Exchange’s help desk for investors is 800.11.56789.