ECONOMY

In Brief

CMC measures aimed at preventing embezzlement by stockbrokerages The Capital Market Commission (CMC) is instituting tighter controls on money flows from stockbrokerages to their clients. CMC President Alexis Pilavios said yesterday that these new measures are designed to prevent embezzlement, which has recently occurred on at least two occasions. When a stock market-listed company has to return more than 3,000 euros to a client, payment will be made either directly to the client’s bank account or by issuing a crossed check in his name. Any orders concerning transactions of the special bank account with the clients’ personal balance will have to be signed by two authorized company officials, acting jointly. Economic growth accelerates in Q4 The Greek economy grew at a 4 percent clip in the last quarter of 2004, year-on-year, up slightly from 3.8 percent in the third quarter, the National Statistics Service (NSS) said. Investment grew 4.2 percent and consumption 3.4 percent. Exports were up 5.3 percent and imports by 3.1 percent, making for a higher contribution of domestic products to final demand. National Securities The National Bank of Greece (NBG) is likely planning to absorb its affiliate National Securities, in which it holds a 46.4 percent stake. According to a press release, the affiliate has called a general meeting on March 7 to discuss a 100-million-euro share capital increase, most of which will probably be absorbed by NBG with a view to strengthening its position. Any decision on the long-expected absorption will be taken after the approval of the increase by shareholders. Hellenic Exchanges Hellenic Exchanges, the holding parent company of the Athens bourse, yesterday launched an Operating Restructuring project, aimed at the group’s development and competitiveness. According to a press release, the project will rationalize the structure and support the strategy of the group, guaranteeing market reliability, flexibility, solid performance in everyday operations and support for innovative approaches to services offered. Efforts are also being made to bring all the group’s services under the same roof. Emporiki-Credit Agricole Emporiki Bank is expanding cooperative projects with its strategic stakeholder, France’s Credit Agricole. Staff training in modern banking techniques will be followed by the launching of joint products. After completing an internal restructuring, Emporiki is now turning to retail banking and modernizing its 375-branch network, although its social insurance problem remains a major thorn. Geniki expands Geniki Bank plans during 2005 to add 22 new branches to its network of 114 branches, growing to 164 in the first half of 2006. An extensive restructuring program is also under way to adapt the bank to the operating model of its main stakeholder, France’s Société Générale. Staff will accordingly be drastically reduced in branches, while central units will be created to monitor 10-15 branches and support their back-office business. In the coming months, emphasis will be placed on restructuring and training and not on increasing the products on offer.