ECONOMY

In Brief

Public-spending rise to be capped at 3 percent next year The Ministry of Economy and Finance will require of all ministries not to raise operational expenditure, especially subsidies, by more than 3 percent in 2005. The ministries and subsidized bodies must also include in their proposals for 2005 expenditure projections for the years 2006 and 2007, the ministry specified in a circular. It also called for a careful consideration of spending on overtime and on civil servants traveling outside Athens, two expenditure items which, each year, tend to balloon and exceed budget forecasts by far. Construction firms want projects to move ahead Representatives of construction firms yesterday called on the government to speed up public projects stalled because of legal procedures invoked mostly by a single construction firm, Michaniki. They recognized that the awarding of tenders through the use of a complex mathematical formula should change but warned against a return to the previous system, where the lowest bidder won and firms often offered unrealistic discounts. Profit gain Athens International Airport (AIA), a joint venture by the Greek State and a consortium led by German builder Hochtief, yesterday announced that pretax profit more than doubled in 2003, to 28.95 million euros on a 9.6 percent gain in turnover to 227.9 million euros. AIA reported under Greek accounting standards. Last year the airport operator saw a 3.6 percent rise in traffic, serving 12.3 million passengers and handling 110,000 tons of cargo. Traffic grew 12.5 percent in the first quarter of this year as some 2.5 million passengers passed through the airport. Traffic is expected to peak in the summer when Athens hosts the 2004 Olympic Games. The company will pay its shareholders a first dividend of 16.1 million euros on 2003. In March, energy group Copelouzos bought a 5 percent stake in AIA. (Reuters) Lower dividend Telecoms equipment-maker Intracom will seek shareholder approval for a 2003 dividend per share of 0.10 euros, down from 0.20 euros in the previous year, the company said yesterday. «The board of directors has recommended a 2003 dividend of 0.10 euros to be approved by shareholders at the annual meeting on June 22,» investors relations manager Yiannis Mantzaris said. The dividend represents a yield of 2.34 percent based on yesterday’s closing share price of 4.28 euros. (Reuters) New target Morgan Stanley announced yesterday it had cut its price target on shares of telecoms operator OTE to 11.6 euros from 12.2 euros but kept its «equal weight» rating. «We are classifying OTE as a low-risk company regarding VoIP (voice-over Internet protocol),» it said in a research note. «We believe that OTE has more to lose in the long run, given its very high domestic market share (87 percent in traffic and close to 100 percent in access).» OTE shares closed 0.94 percent down at 10.50 euros. (Reuters)