ECONOMY

While Alcan reviews, Aluminium of Greece draws interest from the country’s biggest industrial groups

Developments yesterday confirmed a Kathimerini report on Wednesday that Canada’s Alcan Corporation, the world’s largest aluminium smelting group, and three of Greece’s largest industrial groups are in contact with a view to a possible sale by Alcan of its subsidiary Aluminium of Greece. Alcan’s vice president for Europe, Edouard De Vienne, said the group is conducting an evaluation of its majority shareholding in the Greek company and, at the same time, is holding talks with a number of interested parties, covered by memorandums of confidentiality, as part of its consideration of all alternative options. The talks have not produced any agreement so far, he said, adding that Aluminium of Greece will notify stockholders of the results of its evaluation as soon as these are available. The evaluation study had been reported to Kathimerini earlier this summer by Aluminium of Greece President Iason Stratos who said Alcan was looking into possibilities to optimize production and cost cutting, and included a review of the proposed investment in the combined production of steam and electricity, with a view to achieving 100 percent power sufficiency for Aluminium of Greece after its current favorable long-term contract with the Public Power Corporation expires in 2006. Separately yesterday, Greece’s largest metallurgy group and exporter, Viohalco, mining group S&B Minerals and metallurgy firm Mytilineos indicated their interest in negotiations with Alcan over Aluminium of Greece in separate letters to the Athens Stock Exchange. Mytilineos said it would consider negotiations if Alcan indicated an interest, while S&B Minerals noted that Aluminium of Greece is one of the company’s most important clients. «We are naturally interested in the continuation of Aluminium of Greece’s business activity under competitive terms in the country, and we take a direct interest in all developments concerning its future,» said S&B. Viohalco said it would reserve comment until the rumored development acquired a definitive character. On Wednesday, Aluminum of Greece posted 85.4 percent growth in first-half operating profit to 38 million euros, year-on-year, on the back of improved prices on the London Metals Exchange (LME) and solid technical and operational performance. The company said turnover grew 10.7 percent in the first half to 178.3 million euros. Net income before tax in the second quarter was 126 percent higher at 26.7 million euros. If current trends concerning prices at LME continue, the euro/US$ exchange rates remain at about recent levels and current macroeconomic fundamentals stabilize, the company expects to perform similarly during the second half of the year, it said in a statement.