ECONOMY

In Brief

Brussels warns Athens over infringement on capital duty The European Commission has sent Athens a «reasoned opinion,» the last stage before resorting to court action, regarding its imposition of a business capital duty on companies transferring their registered office or place of effective management to Greece and its exemption of this duty for agricultural and maritime companies. The Commission finds these rules in contravention of the directive on indirect taxes on the raising of capital, which allows for a maximum 1 percent duty on companies being set up in the EU, but not when transferring. In addition Brussels suggests that the competition in shipping makes it even more vital that members do not infringe EU state aid regulations. If Greece does not amend its legislation within two months, the Commission may take the issue to the European Court of Justice. Gov’t dismisses talk of deregulation of shop hours Development Deputy Minister Yiannis Papathanassiou dismissed talk of liberalization of shopping hours. In response to a parliamentary question, he said the government intends to impose uniform working hours for shops across Greece, with prefectural authorities able to expand them – but not reduce them – following agreement with local bodies. Traders’ associations will still be able to determine their opening hours, but not stop anyone wishing to be open within the national shopping hours, Papathanassiou said. TIM Hellas Demco and Interamerican Hellenic Life Insurance Company are selling 4.2 million American Depository Receipts (ADRs) in Greek mobile phone company TIM Hellas, UBS, the bookrunner on the deal, said yesterday. These ADRs represent 5 percent of TIM Hellas’s outstanding capital and will be placed through an accelerated bookbuild process to institutional investors, UBS said. (Reuters) Technical Olympic USA The US subsidiary of construction firm Technical Olympic, listed on the New York Stock Exchange, posted strong gains in 2004 with contracts for building new houses rising by 45 percent yearly (from 6,835 to 9,933), deliveries of new houses rose by 20 percent (from 6,135 to 7,337) and the backlog of orders for new houses increased by 84 percent (from 3,128 to 5,763). Technical Olympic USA said its strong position in many developing areas will bring great benefits in the future, adding that typhoons in Florida slowed the rise of new house deliveries by 20 percent in 2004. Onassis Foundation fleet «Olympic Future,» a newly built tanker, has increased the fleet of the Onassis Foundation’s maritime company to 19 ships (13 tankers and six dry bulkers) with a total capacity of 2,733,000 tons. The new, double-hulled ship was built with the top safety specifications and its capacity is 155,039 dwt. The company has invested In state-of-the-art, double-hulled ships: «Our shipping company is among the first internationally to receive the ISO 9001 quality certificate,» company officials told Kathimerini.