ECONOMY

In Brief

Foreign sales and HDF boost Germanos’s 2003 results Mobile telephony and IT retailer Germanos yesterday reported a 31.8 percent rise in 2003 group net profit after minorities to 45.1 million euros, boosted both by domestic sales and the contribution of its operations abroad. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) rose 20 percent to 78.3 million euros, broadly in line with analyst forecasts. Group sales rose to 707 million euros, matching the company’s earlier guidance. Operations in Bulgaria, Romania, Poland and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia accounted for 14.5 percent of total sales, Germanos said, adding that their share was expected to increase significantly in the future. Results are not directly comparable with 2002 figures, as they include a 24.6 percent stake in Hellenic Duty Free Shops (HDF), which Germanos bought in February and consolidated in the second quarter. HDF contributed 7.2 million euros to group profit, Germanos said. Germanos will propose a dividend of 0.40 euros per share, up from 0.38 euros in 2002. HDF, which runs duty-free and other retail stores in airports, ports and border stations, last week reported a 25 percent rise in 2003 pretax profit to 51.6 million euros. Germanos operates a network of 600 branches and aims to increase this to close to 1,000 by the end of 2005. (Reuters) Bank of Cyprus group reports higher losses, despite good Greek results The Bank of Cyprus group reported higher losses for 2003, which rose to 49.12 million euros from 36.49 million in 2002. The group said core profit (before higher provisions of 187.9 million and tax) grew 12 percent to 171.5 million euros, despite falling interest rates and stricter regulations by the central bank of Cyprus. Core profitability was helped by a 26 percent rise in results from operations in Greece to 71.3 million euros (accounting for 42 percent of the group total) and efforts to improve the net interest margin. OTE OTE Telecom’s internal audit director, Theodoros Gezepis, is rumored to have submitted his resignation almost three weeks ago and been absent from active duty. Speculation variously attributes the development to disagreements regarding particular procurements or to Gezepis’s objections regarding financial reporting irregularities. Bakeries The third international exhibition for the bakery and pastry industry, Artozyma, is opening in Thessaloniki’s Helexpo installation tomorrow and will last until Monday. It will host 250 exhibitors from 14 countries, while an exhibition and conference on coffee, Coffee Biz, will also be held. Greece-Cyprus The Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry announced the setting up of an association of Cypriot enterprises active in Greece and Greek firms active in Cyprus. Fuel prices Greek gasoline and diesel prices were the second lowest in the eurozone after Spain last month, according to data released by the Automobile and Touring Club of Greece.