ECONOMY

In Brief

Gov’t says Competition Commission is doing its job properly and effectively The government will not intervene in the work of the Competition Commission, Deputy Development Minister Yiannis Papathanassiou said yesterday in relation to the agency’s current major investigation into the alleged harmonized price practices by the six top supermarket chains. «Let them not expect the government to intervene in the work of the independent Competition Commission. The anti-monopoly legislation in Greece is clear and must apply to all without exemption or discrimination,» he told a Hellenic-American Chamber conference. He claimed that «for the first time, the state is fulfilling its overseeing role,» and «the new policy has already begun bearing the first positive results.» He noted that despite the steep rise in oil prices, the inflation rate has remained steady and there were no price increases during the Olympic Games, unlike in other cities that have hosted them. Gov’t approves HELPE plan for oil drilling tender Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas has approved Hellenic Petroleum’s (HELPE) proposal for an international tender to continue exploration drilling in Epanomi, near Thessaloniki, and onshore and offshore Katakolon, in the Peloponnese. The decision was based on discoveries of deposits of hydrocarbon gases and condensates in these two regions, at depths of about 2,500 meters. Studies indicate the need to continue searches to assess the potential exploitation of the findings. Drilling to date has cost $10.2 million in Epanomi and $30 million in Katakolon. Visa Greek holders of Visa credit, debit and company cards spent more than 6 billion euros with 5.4 million cards in the 12 months to June 2004. The total amount of transactions through Visa rose by 22 percent, compared with the period from July 2002 to June 2003. The number of cards grew by 8 percent, with debit cards in particular increasing by 22 percent. In total, there were over 60 million transactions, a 12 percent yearly increase, and the average amount of money per transaction was just over 100 euros. Alpha eurobond Alpha Credit Group Plc plans to launch a euro-denominated floating-rate note, lead managers for the deal said yesterday. CSFB, JP Morgan and UBS IB have been mandated to lead manage the five-year deal, which will be launched in the near future subject to market conditions. Alpha Credit Group is guaranteed by Alpha Bank rated «A3» by Moody’s Investors Service, «BBB+» by Standard & Poor’s and «A-» by Fitch Ratings. (Reuters) Hellenic Exchanges Spyros Kapralos has been selected to replace Ghikas Manalis at the board of Hellenic Stock Exchanges. He will be the new chief executive officer, also undertaking full executive powers in the group’s companies. Kapralos’s selection will be submitted for approval to the next general meeting of the shareholders. Turk C/A deficit higher Turkey expects a current account deficit in 2004 of $14.387 billion, substantially higher than an earlier prediction of $10.8 billion, the government said in a report published yesterday. The deficit stood at $10.550 billion for January to September this year. (Reuters)