ECONOMY

In Brief

Forthnet increases stake in joint venture MBS to 60 pct Internet service provider Forthnet said it had increased its holding in joint venture Mediterranean Broadband Services (MBS) from 40 to 60 percent through a rights issue. The increase leaves partner Telecom Italia Group with a 40-percent stake in the joint venture, the company said. MBS won a Greek license, in December 2000, for the provision of wireless connections between phones and fixed-line telecoms networks (LMDS) in the 25 GHz category for 2.92 billion drachmas. Forthnet, the only ISP listed on the Athens bourse, said the control of MBS was another step toward its goal of becoming an integrated telecoms provider. With about 40 percent of the total ISP market in terms of Internet addresses, Forthnet was also recently awarded a full license for fixed-line voice telephony and is expected to launch phone services to businesses later this year. (Reuters) Greece turns to Danish firm for smallpox vaccine COPENHAGEN – Danish biotech firm Bavarian Nordic announced it had been appointed by the Greek government to supply it with smallpox vaccine. The vaccines are to be used in the event of an outbreak of smallpox in Greece and will be delivered within a short time frame, Bavarian Nordic said. The order for an unspecified number of doses of the vaccine, dubbed MVA-BN (Modified Ankara-Bavarian Nordic) is to be carried out in collaboration with Greek pharmaceutical company P.N. Gerolymatos, Bavarian Nordic said. No financial details of the order were given, nor would Bavarian Nordic give any indication of the number of vaccine doses ordered by Greece. Since the tragic events of September 11, we have been in discussion with a number of other countries about supplying vaccines that will provide a safe and effective defense against the new threat of a global outbreak of smallpox, Bavarian Nordic CEO Peter Wulff said. We hope to be able to announce further contracts in the coming months. (Reuters) Tax settlement? The Finance Ministry is considering settling a total of 6 million cases involving individual and corporate taxes without proceeding to audit. Such a measure is being advocated by tax consultants who argue that, while not recovering all the taxes due, the State will gather important extra revenue for the 2002 budget. Cash deficit. Turkey’s treasury announced its cash budget had produced a deficit of 14,316 trillion lira (around $9.8 billion) in the January to November period. It said the cash primary surplus, which excludes interest payments on debt, was 13,235 trillion lira for January-November. It posted a cash deficit of 1,824 trillion lira and a cash primary surplus of 1,312 trillion lira for November alone. The treasury had posted a cash budget deficit of 12,399 trillion lira in the January-October period. (Reuters) Conversion. The Finance Ministry announced that holders of state convertible bonds (europrometoha and prometoha) can convert them into Public Power Corporation (PPC) shares until today. PPC, the former electricity monopoly, hopes to raise at least 430.5 million euros from the offering of 35 million shares or about 15 percent of its share capital, in an IPO which runs to today. Panamaxes in the Atlantic remain weak and brokers report that they will not be surprised if they see a rate on the traditional grain route of US Gulf/Japan below USD 16.00 per ton.