ECONOMY

In Brief

Law on final settlement of ballooned bank debts expected this month Economy and Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis said yesterday his ministry’s planned legislative arrangement for the final settlement of old bank customers’ debts, which have ballooned due to compound interest, is expected to be ready in about 15 days. The measure will affect about 20,000 borrowers who took out loans when interest rates were much higher, and whose accumulated debts are estimated at about 1.4 billion euros. Most of the debts are to former subsidiaries of the National and Piraeus banks which have now been absorbed. Responding to questions, National Bank President Takis Arapoglou said a proposal had been submitted to the government, providing for a ceiling of three times the original capital of the loan to be repayable over five years with an interim two-year grace period. Sources said the plan will also freeze auctioning the collateral securities involved until the end of September. The provisions will have no retroactive force, and debtors repaying under previous arrangements will continue doing so in order not to upset banks’ financial data. Government sees differentiated role for privatizations The new government’s privatization policy will not solely aim at revenue collection, as in the past, but will involve strategic considerations for the economy, Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis said after a meeting with the prime minister. Senior officials said the relevant list of more public enterprises planned for privatization is hoped to be ready by the end of the month but that a timetable will not be announced so as to prevent speculative moves by investors. The plan will have a life span of four years, they added. Bank appointments EFG Eurobank Ergasias said yesterday David Watson is to be new chief executive of its subsidiary Banc Post in Romania following shareholder approval. EFG Eurobank holds 53.25 percent of Banc Post, the country’s sixth largest bank. Watson was previously senior EFG Eurobank management adviser in international operations. Separately, Piraeus Bank announced changes in its top management with two new deputy managing directors filling the post of Executive Vice President Iakovos Georganas who will remain a board member. Current Chairman and Managing Director Michael Sallas, former National Bank Deputy Governor Theodore Pantalakis and Michael Kolakidis will form the group’s new top management trio. Pantalakis, 50, was deputy governor of National Bank since 1996 and chaired the Hellenic Banks Association. He is also the president of the Athens Stock Exchange’s Central Depository. Kolakidis, 50, joined Piraeus Bank in 2000. He was previously chief financial officer at Titan Cement. (Reuters) PMI up The Greek Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) rose to 54.5 in April from 53.8 in March, holding above the 50 line that divides growth from contraction. «For the fourth successive month, operating conditions in the Greek manufacturing sector improved in April. Furthermore, the PMI suggested that the rate of improvement was more marked than the previous month,» NTC Research said. (Reuters)