ECONOMY

In Brief

Insurers’ hopes for averting gender equality in premiums rise Insurers are hoping that the government will work toward averting approval by the European Union’s Social Affairs Council early next month of an EU directive for adopting the principle of gender equality in the pricing of insurance products. Recent developments appear to be giving them increased hopes, as according to reports, reservations are being expressed and the approval of the directive, which requires unanimity, no longer appears certain. Insurers argue that gender equality in pricing, irrespective of the type of coverage, essentially annuls the actuarial principles used by underwriters, as women, for instance, have a higher average life expectancy and are on average more frequent users of health services than men, and, on the other hand, are more conservative drivers and are therefore favored by discriminatory pricing. Further, they say the measure would lead to a less fair spreading of higher premiums to all types of coverage. Surge in provisions drives General Bank Q1 results into the red General Bank reported a group first-quarter loss of 1.9 million euros, against a profit of 1.2 million in the same period last year, mainly as a result of a 35.4 percent rise in provisions for bad debts to 89.8 million. At parent company level, the loss was 3.1 million euros against a profit of 0.9 million last year. Net interest income rose 24 percent to 31.4 million, but net commission income was down 4 percent to 9.3 million. Lending grew 14.4 percent to 2.5 billion and deposits 15.9 percent to 2.6 billion euros. Equity capital stood 61.75 percent higher than three months earlier, at 300.7 million, due to an injection of 89 million euros by the new majority shareholder, Societé Generale, and property value readjustments. Price controls Regulations on the policing of prices are just «marginally within EU legislation,» rarely produce any substantial results and in most cases lead to illegal de facto collusions among retailers, Deputy Development Minister Yiannis Papathanassiou told the annual general meeting of the Association of Super Market Enterprises (SESME) yesterday. He said the supermarket sector has grown fast in recent years, making a major contribution to price stability and creating jobs. The government aims to promote a climate of trust in the market through a regulatory framework that will open up protected segments and strengthen competition throughout. «The government must intervene only in so far as it required to deal with arbitrary practices and to provide the necessary guidelines,» he added. Xerox Xerox Hellas has a 51.3 share in the market for color digital multipurpose office equipment, after a 33.5 percent rise in sales from last year, according to data by market research firm InfoSource. Grecotel The Grecotel group has opened its Cape Sounion luxury complex on the southern Attica tip, 67km (42 miles) from the city center. The group is preparing to open three more luxury hotels soon, the King George II, Athens Imperial and Athena Grand Hotel.