ECONOMY

In Brief

Hochtief confirms AIA sale plan, gov’t says it will oppose it German construction group Hochtief, which owns 40 percent of Athens International Airport (AIA) and has management control, yesterday confirmed its intention to sell part of its interest but said its size was not 13.3 percent as the Greek press reported on Thursday. A company spokesman in Dusseldorf said Hochtief is looking for investment partnerships for all airports in which it holds interests, such as Dusseldorf, Hamburg, Sydney and Athens, and is negotiating with investors for this purpose. He said the aim of the sale is to raise cash. He said Hochtief had asked on October 29 to be allowed to transfer its shares in AIA to a subsidiary, Hochtief Airport GmbH, but the Greek ministries of Economy and Transport had blocked the move, which was nevertheless approved by AIA’s board of directors on Wednesday. A spokesman for the government, which owns 55 percent of AIA, said the move will be blocked. «We will guard the interests of the Greek state until the very end,» said Evangelos Antonaros. The government has called an emergency general assembly AIA on December 17. SEV says incentives good but need supplementary improvements The investment incentives bill, unveiled this week, is good but not enough to boost investment, the Federation of Greek Industries (SEV) said yesterday. SEV believes that the bill does meet the expectations of business by broadening the scope for investments, supporting regions and cutting red tape, yet any policy for subsidizing cannot in itself bring in significant investments, let alone foreign direct investments (FDI). SEV notes a series of counterincentives that must be removed for Greece to have a real development framework. These are inadequate town-planning regulations and land-use determination, the structure of procedures for the founding, licensing and operation of enterprises, the simplification and codification of the tax legislation that are still pending and the inflexibilities in the labor market. Greek-Turkish IT forum Two themes dominated the fourth Greek-Turkish IT and Telecom Forum in Istanbul, which ended yesterday: The creation of broader cooperation among participants over networking on proposals regarding the Sixth Research Framework Program (FP6), and the bolstering of entrepreneurship in the IT sector across southeastern Europe through a special «business-matchmaking» space throughout the forum. More than 200 delegates from countries of the region participated in this event, organized by the Federation of Hellenic Information Technology and Communications Enterprises (SEPE) and the IT Association of Turkey (TBV), and was part of the European project «Information Society Initiative for Southeastern Europe» (ISIS). The TBV chairman said similar initiatives must continue, to create a space for exchanging new ideas and developing innovation and entrepreneurship in the region. Property statement The government said all taxpayers will have to fill in and submit anew form E9, giving details of property assets, with their income tax declaration next year. Officials said the aim is to complete the national property register, which should have been ready in 1998.