ECONOMY

In Brief

OTEnet caps majority stake in voice-over Internet firm OTE Telecom’s Internet arm OTEnet said yesterday it had agreed to acquire an 80 percent interest in Southgate Communications, a subsidiary of Sanyo Hellas Holdings, for an undisclosed sum. OTEnet said in a statement that the acquisition was in line with its strategy of investing in voice services for corporate clients, primarily in the small and mid-size segment. Achieving control of Southgate Communications Hellas is our investment in direct VoIP (voice over Internet protocol) service provision to the business market and complements our Smile service, which is directed to the consumer segment, said OTEnet Managing Director George Ioannidis. Southgate has a license from the Greek telecoms regulator to provide telecom services to corporate networks and closed user groups. It has around 900 clients, including many Greek small and medium-sized enterprises and a number of multinationals present in Greece. (Reuters) Piraeus Bank finalizes ETBA acquisition Piraeus Bank said yesterday it signed an agreement purchasing 57.8 percent of state-owned Hellenic Industrial Bank (ETBA) for 173.8 billion drachmas ($459.5 million). With the acquisition of ETBA, Piraeus Bank strengthens its capital base, while the group’s pro-forma assets will exceed 5 trillion drachmas, according to first-half data, Piraeus Bank said in a statement. After the acquisition, the group’s branch network will increase by 14 to 216, it said. (Reuters) HICP lower in November. Greece’s Harmonized Index of Consumer Prices (HICP) fell from 3.2 percent in October to 2.9 percent in November on an annual basis, Eurostat announced in Brussels yesterday. In the 15-member European Union, HICP fell from 2.2 percent to 1.8 percent, against 2.6 percent a year ago. The UK had the lowest rate, with 0.8 percent and the Netherlands the highest, at 4.8 percent. HERMES pilot scheme. The Athens bourse said yesterday it will start a pilot program of the Hellenic Exchanges Remote Messaging System (HERMES) enabling listed companies to send information to the bourse via the Internet. The program will run from December 20 to January 15 and will initially involve the participation of seven listed companies, the bourse said in a statement. (Reuters) Tram. Construction for the Athens tram line to the suburbs of Neo and Palaio Faliron and Glyfada will start at the end of January 2002, Transport and Communications Minister Christos Verelis said at a press briefing yesterday. The project, part of a program for the Olympic Games of 2004, is estimated finish in two years’ time. Coins for charities. Alpha Bank will install collection boxes in all its branches for any loose drachma change that customers wish to part with. The bank will double up the amount to be gathered by December 2002 and will distribute it to charities, it said in a statement. There is not much of a difference in chartering activity from last week. The Caper market is described as marginally quieter while on Panamax, a number of charterers are trying to increase their stems from Handy to Panamax size, taking advantage of the low rates.