In Brief

Union calls for banks to strike on January 31 Bank employees will meet on January 25 to decide whether they will strike at the end of the month to back their demands for a single pension fund, the Greek Federation of Bank Employee Unions (OTOE) announced yesterday. OTOE said in a statement it may launch other industrial action if its demands are not met. Greek banks are struggling to resolve their unfunded pension liabilities. Under International Financial Reporting Standards adopted by the sector this year, banks will have to record the value of their pension funds on their balance sheet. Banks now contribute to 11 supplementary pension funds, which face unfunded pension liabilities. (Reuters) EU sees a rise in fake euro coins The European Union found nearly 75,000 counterfeit euro coins in 2004, three times the amount found the year before, an EU expert said yesterday. But the number of fake coins is minuscule compared to the 55 billion genuine pieces in circulation. An expert from the EU’s anti-fraud office said the way to tell a real 2-euro coin from a fake one was to look at the tiny details on the edge of the piece (worth about $2.61). «The best way to tell the difference is to look at the edge of the coin, which has lettering,» said technical expert Olivier Louis. «It’s hard to reproduce.» While finely tuned vending machines are not deceived by the fake coins, many people are. Europeans have been fooled by Thai 10-baht pieces, worth less than 20 euro cents, because their size and bi-metallic makeup resembles 2-euro coins. Euro coins, including the fakes, are also often collected from tourists as tips in developing countries, and then traded for paper currency. Banks accept the notes, but not coins. (Reuters) CosmOTE Goldman Sachs downgraded shares of Greek cellular operator CosmOTE to «in-line» from «outperform,» it said in a research report on European telecoms. «We are downgrading CosmOTE… mainly on valuation grounds,» the investment bank said. (Reuters)