ECONOMY

In Brief

Gas deal looks uncertain after change of government Spanish gas distributor Gas Natural, which has initialed an agreement to buy a 35 percent interest in the Public Gas Corporation (DEPA) for 285 million euros, may be reconsidering the option, which expires in June. Managing Director Enrique Locutura told shareholders the firm is in talks with the new Greek government – which has indicated it favors the breaking up of DEPA into four sections, of which, according to one scenario, the State will retain the transmission system. Other Gas Natural officials said the company will examine whether the new government’s policy is in line with its own interests. Separately, the government yesterday named Raphael Moissis, president of supermarket chain AB Vassilopoulos, as DEPA’s new CEO. He has previously held positions at ETBA Bank, power company PPC and Athens Metro. Signs of interest by First Data in Delta Singular US-based information technology firm First Data Corporation, which specializes in international payment transfers and serves more than 1,400 card-issuers worldwide, has indicated a possible interest in acquiring part of Greek IT firm Delta Singular. «Although we are not concerned about market rumors, we can state that as a company focusing on continuous international expansion, First Data is always interested in possible acquisitions that add value for shareholders, clients, partners and employees,» the company told Kathimerini. The development comes after Delta Singular announced that its IT services department is to be separated and transferred to a subsidiary. The First Data group includes Western Union money transfers firm. Bank results First Business Bank (FBB) said first-quarter net pretax income rose 38 percent to 1.15 million euros. Total assets were up 24 percent to 780 million euros and deposits 43 percent to 383 million. FBB now numbers eight branches and plans to open three more in Attica this year. Separately, cooperative Panhellenic Bank, which numbers 15 service outlets, reported pretax income of 1.2 million euros in 2003; total assets and deposits rose 111 percent and lending 150 percent. Panhellenic said its key objective is the integration of all cooperative banks in a 110-branch network. Industrial output Greek industrial output rose 2.5 percent year-on-year in February after stalling in January, helped by higher mining, natural gas and water production, the National Statistics Service (NSS) said. Mining production jumped 7.3 percent year-on-year, while natural gas and water output increased 3.4 percent. Industry accounts for about 15 percent of the output of Greece’s service-dominated economy. (Reuters) Jordan The Arab-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce and Development is organizing a delegation to Jordan, June 6-10. Further information and registration details may be obtained by calling 210.671.1210 and 210.672.6882 (or visit the website [email protected]).