ECONOMY

In Brief

Gov’t stakes in Hellenic Petroleum and OTE receive unplanned boost The government’s stakes in Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) and OTE Telecom, two of the country’s biggest corporations, will be raised by 8 percent and 3 percent respectively in the coming days, as a result of the maturing of two convertible bond loans totaling 815 million euros, obtained in the summer of 2000 by the Public Portfolio Management Company (DEKA). The shares of the two companies were put up as collateral for the loans. Sources at the General Accounting Office say the refinancing of the loans will cost about 900 million euros and the government will again acquire the shares it put up as collateral. As a result, the government’s interest in ELPE will go up to 41.8 percent and in OTE to 30.5 percent. Sources said the government is reluctant to consider selling any part of the additional stakes at present. Ukraine wants European investors to tap special opportunities Ukrainian Ambassador to Greece Victor Kalnik yesterday urged European investors to tap opportunities for high-yielding ventures in his country. Speaking at an event marking the 10th anniversary of a cooperation pact with the EU, he said Ukraine has designated 19 areas where a special policies favoring foreign investment apply. «For each dollar invested, the investor can reap profits of up to 60 percent… however, every investor must have the backing of a guarantee by a large foreign bank,» he said. As of January 1, 2005, foreign investors will be able to buy land. Kalnik said the prerequisites are now in place for discussions with a view to harmonizing Ukrainian legislation with the EU as regard safety in energy production. International appointments The government has appointed Antonis Kourakis, Economics professor at Oxford, as Greece’s new permanent representative to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Miranda Xafa, economic adviser to former prime minister Constantinos Mitsotakis in the 1991-1993 period, is going to the International Monetary Fund as alternate executive director. Tellas Telecoms operator Tellas said yesterday it would offer one hour of free local calls every two months to users of its carrier pre-select service, piling pressure on dominant fixed-line provider OTE. The offer, effective yesterday, is valid for residential customers and small companies with up to five lines that have selected specific packages, Tellas said in a statement. Carrier pre-select operators offer fixed-line services but their customers get two bills – one for the actual calls and the other for the line rental, which goes to OTE. Tellas, a joint venture between Greek electricity utility PPC and Italian telecoms firm Wind, is seen as the most serious rival to OTE. (Reuters) PMI up Expansion in the Greek manufacturing sector accelerated slightly in June, a monthly survey of around 300 companies by NTC Research showed yesterday. The Purchasing Managers Index rose to 53.9 in June. Fifty points marks the divide between economic expansion and contraction. (Reuters) Novabank Fund Management company P&K agreed to take over managing Novabank’s mutual funds, replacing Intertrust, Novabank said yesterday. The deal, which involves eight mutual funds with total assets of 412 million euros, will need regulatory approval. (Reuters)