ECONOMY

In Brief

MSCI strikes off Aluminium of Greece; National, Alpha banks weighted up Global index provider MSCI has retained Greece’s OTE Telecom and banks National, Alpha and Eurobank in its Euro & Pan Euro index review, effective after the close of markets on May 28. Alpha and Eurobank are given slightly higher weightings. Germanos and Hyatt Regency have been added to the MSCI Greece Standard stock index, while Aluminium of Greece, once the country’s biggest industrial concern, has been struck off. Egnatia Bank, Elval Aluminium, Sidenor and FG Europe’s ordinary stock have been added to the Greece Small-Cap Index. Coca-Cola HBC outperformed among the 23 stocks of the Greece Standard index in the first quarter of 2004, with gains of 21.93 percent and a P/E ratio of 13.97. Change in pricing of medicines feared to add 600 million euros The planned change in the costing method of pharmaceuticals will place a serious economic burden on the country’s health services, wholesalers’ representatives said yesterday. They said a review of the basis of the existing system, based on the average of the three lowest prices in the whole of Europe, would drive prices up 2-3 percent, whereas the use of the respective European Union averages, as proposed, would send medicine prices up 15 percent, representing an extra annual cost of 600 million euros. Shortages were attributed to circumstantial reasons rather than exports, which many claim manufacturers find more profitable to promote due to higher prices abroad. Greece’s healthcare system has an estimated 2-billion-euro deficit. OTE replaces Skarpelis OTE Telecoms said in a statement yesterday its veteran vice president, George Skarpelis, had resigned and will be replaced by Iakovos Georganas, a member of the board. Skarpelis was appointed OTE vice president and head of its international unit in November 2000. He was named president of the board of Romtelecom, majority-owned by OTE, in December 1999. Olympic euro coin The Bank of Greece’s launch of a two-euro coin commemorating the Olympic Games today will bring in 100 million euros, «a small contribution to the cost of investing in the Games, which will confer significant gains on the Greek economy over a number of years,» said central bank Governor Nicholas Garganas. The bank continues to supply six gold and 12 silver coins with Olympic themes for collectors, and will soon issue a new series on the Olympic torch relay, which for the first time this year will pass through 27 countries in the five inhabited continents. Unilever Food and household consumer products group Unilever’s Greek subsidiaries, Elais, Algida, Unilever Hellas and Knorr Bestfoods, totaled annual sales of 519 million euros in 2003, spearheaded by Unilever Hellas, with 275.2 million, and Elais, with 204.2 million. The group yesterday presented its new logo – the letter U in blue containing 25 different symbols referring to its products.