ECONOMY

In Brief

SoGen looks forward to growth of General Bank Societé Generale plans to reorganize and infuse know-how into its recently acquired Greek subsidiary, General Bank, and introduce innovative products as of September, General’s new managing director, Jacques Tournebize, told the first press briefing since assuming his duties yesterday. He said he sees future growth for General within the framework of the Greek banking system as the epicenter of the greater Balkan market. Tournebize said the future of the bank’s employees was secure but an early retirement program was being planned. Societé Generale, which now holds a 50.01 percent interest in General, yesterday issued a public offer for the acquisition of the remaining 49.99 percent at 6.30 euros per share. Societé Generale today is the eurozone’s sixth largest bank. ELPE to continue regional expansion under new management Hellenic Petroleum’s (ELPE) plans for 2004 include further expansion of activities in SE Europe and enhancement of the group’s vertical integration, officials told the annual general meeting yesterday. They said that the group’s Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia subsidiary, OKTA refinery, which posted a loss of 7.5 million euros in 2003, expects a turnaround in production and sales this year after the signing of a contract with Makpetrol, the state fuels marketing company. ELPE’s new CEO, Timos Christodoulou, said the company will replace independent auditors Ernst & Young, as required by law. Shareholders approved a dividend payout of 20 cents per share. Per capita income Greece’s per capita income (PCI) rose 6.9 percent to 12,798 euros in 2002, the National Statistics Service (ESYE) said. Central Greece, with 18,431 euros, was the region with the highest PCI, followed by the southern Aegean with 14,390 and Attica with 13,472 euros. Western Greece had the lowest CPI with 10,078 euros. The regions of Attica and central Macedonia accounted for 55.1 percent of the country’s gross domestic product. Piraeus Bank Piraeus Bank said yesterday it was still interested in buying a Romanian bank as part of its expansion strategy, despite failure to reach a deal with privately owned Banca Tiriac, which is ranked No. 10 by assets in Romania. Piraeus Bank Romania has a market share of 1.2 percent. Banca Tiriac is founded and majority owned by former Romanian tennis star Ion Tiriac. (Reuters) Hadzioannou Hadzioannou Holdings’ UK underwear retailing subsidiary Unique Commerce has opened two new Virgin Ware stores in Croydon and Surrey, bringing the total to 14. Unique Commerce will be included in group results this year. Hadzioannou, listed in Athens, was also floated on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange on March 6. Foreign investment The Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) has published «Greece in the International Investment Market,» a study containing a historical review of foreign direct investment since 1950 which attempts to explain the minimal inflows attracted.