ECONOMY

In Brief

Shipyard owners sue for over 150 mln euros The German owners of Hellenic Shipyards, Greece’s largest shipbuilding company located at Skaramanga, west of Athens, are suing the previous ownership in order to avoid paying over 150 million euros as penalty for late deliveries of ships and rolling stock to Strintzis Lines and Hellenic Railways (OSE), respectively. The shipyard’s current owners claim they were not aware of the contracts and their stipulations during the negotiation stage. Formally, the suit is against Piraeus Bank which, since the shipyard’s sale in 2002, has taken over formerly state-owned ETBA Bank, Hellenic Shipyards’ previous owner. In reality, the suit targets the State. Shipyard employees announced a two-hour stoppage for today, accusing the owners of using the suit as a pretext to reverse the sale. Hellenic Petroleum considers investing in Azerbaijan BAKU (AFP) – Hellenic Petroleum, Greece’s biggest oil company, is to hold high-level talks in Azerbaijan about investing in oil and gas production there, officials said yesterday. Executives from the company, which is 58 percent owned by the Greek State, will travel to Azerbaijan later this month together with Greece’s President Costis Stephanopoulos, who is making a state visit. «They will be talking about buying Azeri oil and also possible involvement in Azerbaijan (production) projects,» Greece’s ambassador to Azerbaijan, Mercourios Karafotias, said at the annual Caspian Oil and Gas conference in the Azeri capital. The Greek president sent a message to the conference which said the forthcoming talks «will mark the beginning of a new era in Greek-Azeri energy cooperation.» Hellenic Petroleum is mainly involved in oil refining, but it also carries out some oil and gas production. The company is following on the coattails of gas company DEPA, which is in negotiations about buying natural gas from Azerbaijan’s massive Shah Deniz field. DEPA executives are also due in Azerbaijan for talks this month. Metro bidders Five consortiums have expressed an interest in building the much-delayed Thessaloniki underground railway, the metro. These involve alliances of Greek and foreign firms. Notable for its absence is Thessaloniki-based construction firm Michaniki, which has petitioned the European Commission to rule the tender terms illegal because, it claims, they favor a limited number of firms. The government wants to complete the single-line metro by 2008. Deadline extension Bulgaria’s privatization agency announced yesterday it had extended the deadline for final bids in the sale of its seven power distributors by two weeks until July 9, so investors can have more time to prepare offers. The government is selling 67 percent stakes in the seven utilities in an effort to liberalize its energy market ahead of EU entry, planned for 2007. Five foreign firms are vying for the distributors. They are Italy’s Enel, German utility E.ON, Czech firm CEZ, Greece’s Public Power Corporation and Austrian utility EVN. (Reuters)