ECONOMY

In Brief

S&B announces joint mining venture in China S&B Industrial Minerals, Greece’s biggest mining company, said it will hold a 51 percent share and the management in a joint venture for the mining of wollastonite in Hulan, China. S&B said it aims at bolstering its presence in the world market and acquiring more mines and processing units in China. CEO Efthymios Vidalis said S&B will consider its possible participation in the acquisition of Aluminium of Greece, should its new owners, Canada’s Alcan, decide to shed their interest. S&B’s group pretax earnings rose 2.2 percent to 26.7 million euros in 2003, on a 0.6 percent drop in sales to 289.6 million. Titan Cement augments earnings but domestic demand looks to fall Titan cement maker said 2003 group net profit rose 10 percent to 125 million euros while sales remained virtually flat at 1,036 million. The group, which has a number of foreign subsidiaries, said the group’s results were partly affected by the weakening of the dollar against the euro, which resulted in lower revenues and operating profits from the US. It noted that, although construction work in Greece drove demand for cement to new highs, growth was unlikely to continue in the future. The firm added it would propose a dividend of 0.95 euros per share. HELEX Hellenic Exchanges, owner of the Athens stock and futures markets, returned to profitability in 2003, posting yesterday group pretax profit after minorities of 43.8 million euros after a loss of 20.2 million in 2002. Earnings were boosted by the stock market’s recovery and the continuing growth of the derivatives market. Mytilineos Metals, mining and engineering group Mytilineos said yesterday 2003 pretax profit grew 58 percent to 27.81 million euros, boosted by cost containment and an improved gross profit margin. The group, which includes holdings in ELBO and Metka, reported financial results under Greek accounting standards. Results under international accounting standards (IAS) with the full consolidation of ELBO will be released in March. Group sales rose 7.1 percent to 278 million euros. The group said it reduced its debt load by 10 million euros last year. Its gross profit margin improved to 19.26 from 18.74 percent in 2002. (Reuters) Vodafone Mobile telephony operator Vodafone-Panafon announced 13.6 percent profit growth before tax, interest and amortization (EBITDA) to 420.2 million euros in the April-December 2003 period, year-on-year; turnover grew 15.3 percent to 1,092.4 million. The EBITDA margin dropped 0.5 percent to 38.5, affected by higher mobile sales. Average revenue per user (ARPU) rose 1 percent to 31.48 euros. Olympic Catering Olympic Catering said net pretax profit in 2003 reached 1.2 million euros, against losses of 11.98 million in 2002, despite a drop in sales from 45.64 to 41.65 million euros, partly due to the downturn in the air transport business. The company said it has drawn up a specific business plan to meet the expected surge in demand during the Summer Olympic Games.