ECONOMY

In Brief

Greek companies to bid for casino permits in Albania TIRANA (Reuters) – Two Greek firms are competing for a $10 million 15-year casino license in the Albanian capital Tirana, the first of five gambling permits the government plans to issue, the authorities said yesterday. The US Royal Palace Casino of Nevada and Albania’s Rozafa were disqualified after submitting only part of the required documentation, a government spokesman told Reuters. Greece’s Club Hotel Loutraki and Hyatt Regency Hotel & Tourism Hellas are vying for the license to operate a casino in Tirana, where sports betting and scratch lotteries have flourished since capitalism replaced communism in 1991. Hyatt says its 60 percent-owned subsidiary Gaming Investment Overseas holds a 51 percent stake in the joint venture bidding for the permit, with Albanian investors holding the remaining 49 percent. Greece is Albania’s second-largest trading partner and a major foreign investor, with Greek firms controlling the growing mobile phone market of more than 1 million subscribers. Albania also plans to auction four casino licenses along the country’s Adriatic and Ionian coasts, including one in Sarande, a tourist town across a strait from the Greek holiday island of Corfu. Attica buys Minoan Lines stake from Italian businessman Ferry operator Attica Holdings said yesterday it has agreed to buy a 9.51 percent stake in competitor Minoan Lines at 3.30 euros a share, which translates to a 26 percent premium. Attica, whose ferries operate domestic and international routes, said it agreed to acquire a total of 6,745,471 shares of Minoan Lines from Italian businessman Romano Artioli. Minoan, which competes with Attica on domestic and international routes linking Greece with Italy, has a current market value of 185.8 million euros. Its shares closed at 2.62 euros last Friday. Attica said the deal was subject to regulatory approval by the Athens Stock Exchange. (Reuters) Antenna bond Media group Antenna said yesterday it had completed an offering of a 7.25 percent 10-year bond, raising 120 million euros ($156.8 million). The company will use the net proceeds, together with available cash, to buy back its outstanding 9.75 percent bonds maturing in 2008. Antenna has offered to repurchase a total of 138.75 million euros of its more expensive outstanding debt at a spread of 50 basis points over the 6.875 percent German note due in Dec 2005, together with accrued interest. The group said it had accepted for payment an aggregate principal amount of 123.53 million euros of validly tendered bonds due in 2008. Its tender offer expires on February 25. Citigroup is managing the tender offer and the new issue. (Reuters) Hellenic Petroleum Refiner Hellenic Petroleum is set to award a buy tender for up to 60,000 tons of high-sulfur straight-run fuel oil, traders said yesterday. The tender, which closed earlier yesterday, is for up to two 30,000-ton cargoes for delivery between March 10 and March 20 to the refiner’s Aspropyrgos plant. Hellenic issued a tender for low-sulfur fuel oil earlier this month, but later canceled it. (Reuters)