ECONOMY

In Brief

Heracles Cement reports hefty rise in 2003 net profit The Heracles cement company, a member of the multinational Lafarge group, yesterday reported a 64 percent jump in net profit before tax to 117 million euros in 2003, largely the result of extraordinary expenses of 28.5 million for staff termination indemnities in 2002 and a 9.3 percent reduction in expenses. The company said sales rose 8.7 percent to 607 million euros, reflecting a strong domestic market performance reinforced by exceptionally good weather conditions in the last quarter and strong deliveries for the Olympic projects. Heracles said it has recommended a dividend payout of 0.40 euros per share, up 33 percent compared to last year. Marathon route constructor reports sudden liquidity European Technical, the construction company upgrading the marathon route for this summer’s Olympic Games, yesterday denied reports that it had filed for protection from creditors. In a letter to the Athens bourse, the company said it aims at disbursing all delayed payments to its workers by the end of the month, to be followed by subcontractors and creditors. Earlier this month, government officials indicated a new contractor would be sought for the marathon project as European Technical faced insolvency. TIM Mobile telephony operator Stet Hellas, operating under the new TIM service mark, said it launched on Saturday its new «Talk ‘n Text» program for contract customers, offering free of charge 30 minutes of talk time for national calls and 50 SMS a month. Fixed monthly charges will be reduced from 16 euros in the first year to 13.5 euros in the second year. Aluminium of Greece Aluminium of Greece yesterday described a Kathimerini report that Canadian metallurgy group Alcan, the new owners of its parent company Pechiney, were considering delisting the firm from the Athens bourse, as «not corresponding to reality.» The company said it was not aware of any intention of the majority shareholder to initiate delisting procedures. Michaniki Construction company Michaniki, one of Greece’s largest, yesterday reported group pretax profit growth after minorities of 23.61 percent to 16.76 million euros in 2003, on a 26.98 percent rise in turnover to 152.12 million. Intrasoft Intrasoft International, a member of the Intracom group, has won a 28 million euro contract for the European Commission to develop part of its electronic information service for research and development issues (http://www.cordis.lu). Bounced checks The total value of bounced checks surged 42 percent in January in relation to December and 13.7 percent year-on-year.