ECONOMY

In Brief

Banks’ value will not be affected by transition to IAS, study says The adoption of International Accounting Standards (IAS) in 2005 will not have a big impact on the valuation of Greek banks, Merrill Lynch said in a research report yesterday. «While the shift from Greek (accounting standards) to IAS will produce a number of material cosmetic changes in the reporting of financial results, we do not believe these adjustments will alter the underlying economic value of the banks,» the report said. Merrill did not adjust its theoretical fair value for the Greek banks it covers, maintaining its «neutral» rating on Alpha Bank, Eurobank, National Bank and a «sell» rating on shares of Emporiki Bank. It said the switch to IAS will be an improvement over Greek accounting standards, bringing more transparency to banks’ financial statements. «When Greek banks make the transition in 2005, the focus will be on their ability to absorb underfunded pension schemes which will be brought onto the balance sheet,» the report said. «Although potentially material, we estimate that this hit to capital will be broadly balanced by the capitalization of property revaluations and certain other accounting benefits offered in the transition to IAS.» (Reuters) Greece, other members, fall afoul of Commission BRUSSELS – The European Commission announced yesterday it would take several member states to court for breaking EU laws on railways and the safety of bulk carriers. The Commission also sent a flurry of warning letters to a dozen members, threatening legal action for breaching some of the bloc’s maritime safety rules. The Commission said in a statement that Britain, France, Germany, Greece, Italy and Sweden had not adjusted their laws to EU legislation on the interoperability of the trans-European conventional rail system. The countries have failed to harmonize rules on designing, constructing and modernizing rail infrastructure and on professional qualifications in the sector. In a separate decision, the Commission threatened legal action against Belgium, Greece, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Austria, Finland and Britain for failing to implement legislation on monitoring ships carrying hazardous substances. The Commission also sent warnings to Belgium, Greece, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Finland, Portugal, Denmark and Sweden for their failure to launch laws aimed at preventing pollution from ships. (Reuters) Ferry tickets After several days of negotiations with the Merchant Marine Ministry, passenger shippers agreed to keep rises in ticket prices below inflation instead of the 10 percent rise they sought. Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis said that the rise in ticket prices will range between 13 cents and a euro, excluding taxes and extra charges. Banking services Emporiki Bank yesterday launched its e.Banking service in English to cater to English-speaking clients. The service, like the Greek version, will allow clients to obtain information about, and manage, their accounts quickly and securely, the bank said. The e.Banking service, accessible through the bank’s main portal (www.emporiki.gr) is built in such a way as to provide information on all the client’s accounts, including credit cards and loans, in a single page.