ECONOMY

In Brief

Competition shrinks OTE’s 2004 fixed-line revenue OTE Telecom said yesterday fourth-quarter net profit in 2004 fell 74 percent. Greece’s largest telecoms operator blamed the plunge on a 10 percent drop in fixed-line revenues. «We have seen the worst in OTE,» Eurobank Securities analyst Costas Karagiorgos said. «After reaching rock bottom, the only way left is up.» Fourth-quarter net profit stood at 20.2 million euros, down from 78.4 million in the respective period of 2003. Total revenues for the quarter dropped 1.5 percent to 1.28 billion euros. OTE announced late Wednesday that it had reached an agreement with unions on a voluntary early retirement plan for 6,000 employees. The first departures are expected in the second half of 2005. (AP) PPC results hurt by Olympic requirements The Public Power Corporation (PPC) reported a lower-than-expected 5.7 percent rise in 2004 net profit, hit by one-off costs and export restrictions related to the Athens Olympic Games. Excluding Olympics costs, profit would have risen by an estimated 19 percent. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) increased 6 percent to 1.2 billion euros. Sales rose 5 percent to about 4 billion euros. Investment expenditures, including Olympic spending, totaled 754.3 million euros, up 4.2 percent. PPC said its share of the loss posted by fixed-line telephone company Tellas, a joint venture between the utility and Italian telecoms firm Wind, narrowed to 8.2 million euros from 26.9 million in 2003. (Reuters) Bank of Cyprus Bank of Cyprus posted a 49.9-million-Cyprus pound ($113.4 million) pretax profit for 2004, rebounding from 2003 losses on retail growth and a cost-cutting drive, it said yesterday. The bank, Cyprus’s largest, also announced plans to tap the market in a securities issue later this year to fund an expansion drive into Southeast Europe. Group core profit rose 39 percent to 139.5 million, the bank said. It registered a retail-driven 57 percent jump in core profits from Cyprus and a growth of 17 percent in Greece, its second key market. Core profit from Greece reached 49 million pounds, representing 35 percent of total group core profits, the bank said. (Reuters) Folli-Follie Retailer Folli-Follie posted a 20 percent rise in 2004 net profit to 52.2 million euros yesterday, in line with market expectations. Group earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) increased 16.5 percent to 60.7 million euros. Group pretax profit after minorities rose 16.3 percent to 65.6 million euros. Group sales advanced 21.4 percent to 194.9 million euros, with Asia, excluding Japan, accounting for 37 percent of group sales. Japan accounted for 25 percent of sales, Greece 7 percent and the rest of Europe 18 percent. (Reuters) Heracles Cement producer Heracles, majority-owned by France’s Lafarge, posted an 8.2 percent drop in 2004 group pretax profit to 107.4 million euros, hit by slowing volume as Olympics-related projects tailed off. Operating income before interest and tax fell by 9.3 percent to 115.7 million euros. Sales dropped 2.4 percent to 592.5 million euros. «The decrease in sales is mainly due to the slowdown in volume, as expected following the completion of Olympics-related building projects,» the company said. (Reuters)