In Brief

NBG shareholders approve 5 pct share buyback within a year National Bank (NBG) shareholders authorized a share buyback of up to 5 percent of the bank’s share capital and approved a three-for-10 bonus issue and the 2003 dividend at a general assembly yesterday. Chairman Takis Arapoglou said the buyback would be in a range of between 4.50 euros and 35 euros. «The share buyback is for a year from now,» he added. Shareholders will receive a dividend of 0.65 euros per share, payable on June 21, with NBG shares trading ex-dividend today. The bonus shares, which follow the revaluation of NBG’s real estate assets, will be distributed to shareholders in about a month, Arapoglou said. (Reuters) UBS upgrades Emporiki, citing new CEO and profitability prospects Investment bank UBS issued a «buy» recommendation for Emporiki Bank, Greece’s fourth largest, lifting the target price to 29.30 euros. UBS said Emporiki, which has a strategic partnership with France’s Credit Agricole, «is entering a new era» after restructuring plans announced last week, and projects an average annual profit rise of 11 percent to 2006. UBS said it upgraded Emporiki on the strength of three factors, the recent appointment of Giorgos Provopoulos as CEO, «a talented banker with a wealth of experience» in restructuring issues; the potential for a fuller tapping of the bank’s network and the Greek banking sector’s considerable growth potential with good profitability prospects. Titan Greek cement maker Titan is seen as reporting a 161 percent jump in first-quarter net profit after minorities after results a year earlier were weighed down by extraordinary costs, analysts said yesterday. Eleven analysts polled by Reuters forecast on average group net profit after minorities of about 14 million euros, compared with 5.35 million a year earlier, when Titan’s results were bruised by a devaluation of the Egyptian pound. «The company is not expected to report any foreign exchange losses related to its Egyptian operation as happened last year. This will boost its bottom line in the first quarter of this year,» said analyst Thanasis Ganis at Egnatia Securities. Titan has operations in the US, Egypt, Bulgaria and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, as well as in Greece. The US operations account for 40 to 50 percent of its activities. Titan will report results under Greek GAAP on May 20 after the market close. (Reuters) Albanian tourism The tourism industry in Albania aims to attract more visitors from Western Europe and Asia while maintaining its popularity as a destination for ethnic Albanians in the region, a Tourism Ministry official said yesterday in Tirana. Last year, about 200,000 ethnic Albanian tourists traveled to Albania from Kosovo and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Yugoslavia, said Silva Dacini, the ministry’s marketing department head. About 40,000-50,000 tourists came from Western Europe and Asia. Dacini said the country aimed to improve standards in the tourism industry. As part of the efforts, the government is improving roads and has begun construction on a road that would connect the port city of Durres, 39km (25 miles) west of Tirana, and the Kosovo border. (AP)

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