ECONOMY

In Brief

Decision for General Bank capital increase likely at end of the month General Bank shareholders are likely to approve a share capital increase in favor of France’s Societe Generale – the recent buyer of a 22.34 percent stake in the Greek bank – at the end of the month, due to the expected lack of quorum in tomorrow’s scheduled general meeting. The French bankers are said to be aiming to secure shareholder approval for the increase, which will give them an estimated 60-70 percent stake, before the March 7 election. General, which has 114 branches and a work force of 2,300, said yesterday that 2003 pretax profits after provisions for bad debts reached 7.7 million euros, against losses of 27.9 million in 2002. OTE considers legal action over delay in underwater cable license OTE Telecom may take legal action over a costly three-month delay in getting a license to lay an underwater cable in Italian waters, a company official said yesterday. «We are considering taking legal action at European Union level and in Italy against people and or institutions that we might consider have caused our financial losses,» said George Georgitsis, general manager of procurement for the OTE group. He said the costs of the delay to OTE came to 2 million euros, and were running at about 50,000 euros per day. The delay is not expected to jeopardise the country’s increased communication needs due to the Summer Olympic Games. (Reuters) Business administration The Athens Laboratory of Business Administration (ALBA), which is sponsored by the Federation of Greek Industries, is accepting applications for its MBA and MSc in Finance programs starting in September, and for the Professional MBA, MSc in Business for Lawyers and MSc in Strategic Human Resources Management programs starting in January 2005. ALBA is holding an open day at its premises (Athinas & 2 Areos, Vouliagmeni) at 6 p.m. on Feb. 20. ALBA offers to students a number of scholarships and opportunities for loans on favorable terms. For information, tel 210.896.4531, or visit www.alba.edu.gr. HSBC HSBC bank plans to more than double its branch and ATM network in three to five years, officials said. The bank now has 22 branches in Greece. HSBC yesterday presented two new investment products, US Bonus Fund and World Growth, which offer a guarantee for 100 percent of capital after four-and-a-half years, plus returns depending on the performance of leading world indices. Minimum investment is $5,000, or the equivalent in euros or pounds sterling. VAT The Finance Ministry has postponed the starting date for submission of value-added tax declarations by firms and self-employed professionals keeping category B books for 2003 from February 25 to March 15. IPO Elin Oil today launches an IPO for listing on the Athens bourse, lasting until Feb. 17. The company, which operates about 400 gasoline stations throughout Greece, aims to raise between 14.63 million and 16.03 million euros to finance its investment program and boost working capital.