In Brief

Commission approves investment incentives law The European Commission has approved the Greek investment incentives law, deciding that its subsidy framework is compatible with the EU Treaty. Following this verdict, the Ministry of Economy and Finance will issue the ministerial decisions in the next few days so that the submission of investment projects can begin for the law to be applied. It took this law less than two months to gain EU approval, unlike its forerunners, which needed seven to nine months or were even rejected outright, the ministry said. Provision for financial recovery programs for rickety insurers A new presidential decree will force insurance companies that do not cover the insolvency margin required to draft financial recovery programs, officials said. The decree specifies the terms and procedures under which companies will enter such programs to redress their capital position without having their operating licenses revoked. In the meantime, the ministry will monitor carefully the companies’ activities to protect the interests of the insured. Peach tax Greek peach producers are in for a blow as peach preserve is one of the EU products on which the US decided to raise existing tariffs as of March 1. Greece is the world leader in peach preserve exports and the US is its main market. The tariff will go up from 17 percent to 55 percent. The measure is in response to the imposition of duties on American rice imported by the new EU members. Other Greek products to be affected include olives, cheese, vegetables and yoghurt. Co-op banking Germany’s DZ Bank has acquired a 10 percent interest in Greek cooperative bank Panellinia as a strategic investment, executives of both banks said yesterday. «The decision of DZ Bank to acquire a stake in Panellinia is based on its strategic goal to enter markets with significant prospects,» said DZ Bank Chairman Dr Ulrich Brixner. Panellinia Bank, which started operations three years ago, has a network of 18 branches and acts as the central coordinating bank for 133 credit unions and small cooperative banks in Greece. The cooperative bank had pretax earnings of 3.05 million euros in 2004 and plans to expand its network to 36 branches over the next five years. (Reuters) Coke acquisition Greek bottler Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Co (CCHBC) is in talks to buy Serbian mineral water bottler Vlasinka, a company source said yesterday. «We have expressed interest. We are now holding talks to buy Vlasinka,» the source told Reuters. «This is part of our expansion into the mineral water sector via acquisitions.» CCHBC, the world’s second-largest bottler of Coca-Cola products by sales and 24 percent owned by Coca-Cola, has said it aimed to expand further into the non-carbonated soft drink market in Europe, with a focus on Russia and Italy. Vlasinka, owned by Serbian holding group Simpo, also makes soft drinks. (Reuters)

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