ECONOMY

In Brief

Rules made easier for small tourism accommodation operators Tourism Development Deputy Minister Anastassios Liaskos yesterday announced measures easing the licensing and operation rules for rooms providing tourist accommodation. The measures will reduce documents for licensing to just four, simplify the environmental effect studies for small units, and bring all owners under a single social insurance fund. Liaskos said the absorption rate of European Union subsidies for the modernization of small tourism accommodation enterprises, under the Third Community Support Framework program, had tripled from 12 percent in the first quarter of 2004 to 36 percent by the end of the year. A sum of 3 million euros has been approved under the program for further training of staff in such enterprises. Cyprus gov’t thinking of shedding Hellas Jet NICOSIA (Reuters) – Cash-strapped Cyprus Airways is contemplating either the gradual closure or sale of Hellas Jet, its subsidiary in Greece, the government said yesterday. Two foreign suitors, from the Netherlands and Britain, have expressed an interest in acquiring Hellas Jet but have yet to come up with a financial downpayment for the sale, Transport Minister Haris Thrassou said. He did not name the companies nor specify the downpayment sought by Cyprus Airways, which is majority owned by the state. The carrier posted record pretax losses of 36.9 million Cyprus pounds ($68.7 million) last year. It is now waiting for European Union approval for an urgently needed loan, guaranteed by the government, and redundancies are planned. Protocol with China The Thessaloniki Chamber of Commerce and Industry signed yesterday a cooperation protocol with the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, during a delegation visit to Beijing and Shanghai. Speaking at the signing ceremony, the chamber’s chairman, Dimitris Bakatselos, stressed Greece’s economic advantages and said Thessaloniki can host the headquarters of any foreign company, providing convenient and modern environment and infrastructure, as it aims to become the metropolis of the Balkans. Bank of Cyprus In search of foreign institutional investors, a team of Bank of Cyprus officials is venturing to London next week to present the group’s prospects to potential investors, as they did last week in Athens. BoC’s return to profits; its successful penetration into Greece, holding a 4 percent share and aiming at 5 percent by 2007; expansion into the Balkans and the increase in share capital are the main points communicated. Its after-tax profits were at 65 million euros in 2004 and its network in Greece will expand by 20 percent, reaching 120 branches by year’s end. Coca-Cola HBC Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company (CCHBC) along with the Coca-Cola Co have fully acquired Bulgarian mineral water firm Bankia, the bottler said yesterday, not disclosing the price. CCHBC said Bankia’s assets include production facilities outside Sofia and the Bankia natural mineral water brand. Last week, CCHBC said it and the Coca-Cola Co, the world’s largest soft drink company, were acquiring Russian juice company Multon for an undisclosed sum. Multon is Russia’s second-largest juice producer, operating under the Rich, Dorby and Nico brands. (Reuters)