In Brief

Eurobank maintains buoyant trend in bank profits growth… EFG Eurobank, Greece’s third-largest lender by assets, reported a 35.1 percent rise in 2004 group net profit, boosted by strong lending and cost containment. The group said yesterday net profit after minorities rose to 368 million euros, reporting under Greek accounting standards. Eurobank said its lending volumes outpaced the sector during the period, boosting its market share. Total loans grew 29.3 percent at the group level and 28.2 percent in Greece, faster than the banking sector’s 16.4 percent credit expansion – meaning the bank’s market share rose by 1.3 percentage points to 15.1. Lending growth was driven by credit to households – consumer loans and mortgages – which expanded by 43 percent to 9.85 billion euros. Business loans grew 20 percent year-on-year to 11.85 billion. (Reuters) …but Emporiki posts a 67-million-euro net loss Emporiki Bank announced yesterday that it recorded a net loss of 67 million euros in 2004, compared with a profit of 71.8 million in 2003. The bank attributed the loss to provisions and write-offs, as well as to charges for a voluntary redundancy scheme. The total cost amounted to 179.8 million euros. As a result of the 2004 loss, Emporiki said it is suspending the 2004 dividend payment. However, Emporiki said a re-evaluation of the group’s fixed assets led to a surplus value of 215.5 million. As a result, the bank said it will propose two bonus shares for every 10 shares held. Emporiki said it aims to complete most of its efforts to streamline operating costs by the end of the year. (AP) Telecom Italia stays Telecom Italia has received offers for its Greek mobile assets but does not plan to pull out of the country, CEO Carlo Buora said in a newspaper interview yesterday. Italian media reported earlier this month that the telecoms group could sell its Greek mobile unit TIM Hellas, Greece’s third-largest mobile provider, in a deal worth more than 1.2 billion euros. Asked whether Telecom Italia would leave Greece, Buora said, «It is not in our plans, but we have received offers.» In a conference call on Thursday, Telecom Italia Mobile CEO Marco De Benedetti, quizzed on Greece, also told analysts TIM Hellas remained «an attractive asset.» (Reuters) Credit expansion Credit expansion slowed to 7.7 percent year-on-year in December from 8.1 percent in the previous month, Bank of Greece provisional data showed yesterday. It was the third consecutive month of a slower pace of overall credit expansion. But credit growth to businesses and households was steady at 15.8 percent in December. Credit extended to the public sector was down 8.0 percent year-on-year versus a 6.3 percent drop in November. (Reuters) Hyatt Regency Greek hotel and casino operator Hyatt Regency yesterday reported a 10.2 percent rise in 2004 group pretax profit after minorities to 71.5 million euros. Gross sales, from which the government levies a gaming tax of around 32 percent, reached 297.5 million euros, a 28.3 percent jump, the company said. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) rose 25.1 percent to 110.1 million euros. (Reuters)

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