In Brief

Alogoskoufis sees a French ‘yes’ vote normalizing market conditions PARIS (Reuters) – Financial markets have been affected negatively by uncertainty about the outcome of France’s May 29 referendum on the European Union Constitution, Greek Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis said yesterday. «The uncertainty which has been generated by the referendum has had effects on the financial markets which have not been necessarily good,» he told a news conference on the sidelines of an OECD meeting. Traders have said uncertainty about whether French voters will back the EU treaty could be one reason why peripheral bond markets in Italy, Greece and Portugal have seen weakness in recent months. «I sincerely hope we will have a ‘yes’ vote,» Alogoskoufis said. The elimination of uncertainty «will result in more normal conditions,» he added. TIM Q1 net profit falls on lower interconnection revenues Mobile operator TIM Hellas yesterday posted an 8.2 percent fall in first-quarter net profit, hit by tariff cuts implemented earlier this year and a decline in its total number of users. The country’s third-largest mobile provider said net profit fell to 7.8 million euros from 8.5 million in the year-earlier period. Telecom Italia’s mobile arm TIM sold its 81 percent stake to private equity firms Apax Partners and Texas Pacific Group for 1.1 billion euros last month. TIM Hellas said earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) fell by 6.7 percent to 49.1 million euros. Operating revenues declined 5.5 percent to 184.8 million euros. «The most significant factor that led to the decrease in the company’s top-line growth was the substantial drop in interconnection revenues,» TIM Hellas said in a statement. Earlier this year the mobile operator cut fixed-to-mobile interconnection tariff by 24.5 percent and mobile-to-mobile interconnection tariffs by 19.3 percent. Results were based on US GAAP. The operator said it had 2.27 million users at end-March, down from 2.32 million at end-2004. (Reuters) Bulgaria killing The head of a Bulgarian oil trading firm was stabbed and killed in Sofia in an attack likely tied to his business activities, officials said yesterday. Yavor Markov, the 41-year-old executive director of Estel Oil Bulgaria, was attacked at the entrance to his block of flats late Tuesday night. «He was fatally stabbed five times in the chest and stomach,» the Interior Ministry said in a statement. Police are still searching for his assailants, who fled the scene by car. Minister Georgi Petkanov told news agency BTA that business interests were the most likely motive for the killing. Markov had never been the subject of police investigation. Assassinations are common in Bulgaria, where diplomats and analysts say powerful organized crime groups control major parts of the economy. Brussels has warned Sofia to crack down on the problem or face a delay to planned EU entry in 2007. (Reuters) HDFS Retailer Hellenic Duty Free Shops (HDFS) will propose a 2004 dividend per share of 0.70 euros to shareholders at the annual meeting on May 27, it said in a statement yesterday. HDFS had paid a dividend of 0.60 euros for 2003. Based on yesterday’s closing share price of 13.38 euros, the proposed payout translates to a dividend yield of 5.2 percent. (Reuters)