In Brief

Avramopoulos prepares for Greek tourism campaign in US Tourism Development Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos announced a major Greek tourism promotion drive in the US market, on the first day of a tourism workshop organized by the Hellenic-American Chamber of Tourism. «The US is a high-priority market for us, especially now that we are launching our new tourism strategy,» Avramopoulos said. In two weeks, he will visit the USA, starting with Los Angeles, to establish cooperation with the Hollywood film industry, before heading off to New York for a tourism fair with Greece as the honored country. «We are proceeding fast, opening tourism offices where we did not have any before, in Miami, Los Angeles and Chicago,» he said. OPAP 2004 profits surge after provisions are freed up Gaming company OPAP more than doubled net profit in 2004, boosted by the reversal of provisions that had weighed on 2003 results and the success of a new game. Europe’s biggest betting company by market value said net profit rose 115 percent to 505.6 million euros. Net profit, excluding the extraordinary gain from freed-up provisions, stood at 409.4 million euros, up 41 percent. OPAP reversed the provisions, which came to about 148 million euros, after it won a court case in the first quarter against gaming operator Intralot. Sales increased 39 percent to 3.17 billion euros, with revenues from numerical games contributing 1.48 billion euros, up 171 percent, mainly driven by the success of Kino and the Joker game. OPAP said it would propose a dividend of 1.48 euros per share to shareholders, a dividend yield of 6.7 percent based on current prices. (Reuters) Bosporus tunnel Turkish and Japanese officials yesterday signed a $937 million loan accord for a project to construct a rail tunnel linking Asia and Europe below Istanbul’s Bosporus strait. The tunnel is part of the multibillion-dollar Marmaray project that will connect suburban train lines on the two sides of Turkey’s largest city. «The Japanese government loan has a very low cost considering market conditions, and this increases the project’s attractiveness for international lenders in securing the remaining $1.7 billion in financing,» Economy Minister Ali Babacan said. The credit will have a 40-year maturity, with no repayment due the first 10 years and six-monthly payments over the remainder of the period. The entire tunnel project stretches over 13.5 kilometers long, of which a 1.6-kilometer (1-mile) section will be an immersed tube within the strait, and is scheduled to be completed in 2008. The entire project is planned for completion in 2009 at a total estimated cost of $2.6 billion. The Japanese-Turkish consortium TKGN, made up of Taisei Corp, Kumagai Gumi, and Turkish firms Gama and Nurol, signed the tender accord in May last year and construction began at the end of August. (Reuters) Piraeus likes Atlas Piraeus Bank, Greece’s fifth-largest by assets, has signed an agreement to buy 80 percent of Serbia’s Atlas Bank, the Greek bank said yesterday. It did not provide financial details of the deal. Piraeus has its own branches in Serbia and is also present in Bulgaria, Romania and Albania. Atlas, which has a 1 percent market share and a network of nine branches in three cities, reported net profit of 1.6 million euros ($2.09 million) in 2004. It has total assets of 63 million euros. (Reuters)

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