In Brief

Greece likely to lose 500 million euros of EU funds Greece’s irregularities in 2001-2003 in project fund allocation of the EU-subsidized Third Community Support Framework investment program will probably mean the country will lose half a billion euros from the package. EU Commission sources in Brussels said Athens’s long negotiations with Regional Policy Commissioner Danuta Hubner restricted auditing to 4,100 projects (instead of 10,000), for which 700 million euros will be held from Greece. However Greece can regain some 200 million euros of that through submitting new programs for funding. The decision is expected within 15 days. Ferries will have to have doctors on board, says minister The Merchant Marine Ministry insists on the appointment of a doctor aboard every passenger ship, despite reactions by costal shipping companies, Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis told a press briefing yesterday, adding that «the relevant ministerial decision is coming soon.» Doctors on ships, a longtime demand by travelers, and calling at islands with little commercial interest as a public service are the ministry’s conditions for shipowners to raise economy-class tickets by up to 5 percent. Companies are asking for rises of 14.6 percent, but agreed to satisfy the terms, Kefaloyiannis stated. «Public service routes contravene the EU regulation on domestic maritime transport liberalization,» coastal shipping sources told Kathimerini. Piraeus Bank Piraeus Bank, Greece’s fifth-largest lender by assets, said yesterday it had completed the buyout of Bulgarian Eurobank for 48.4 million euros ($61 million). «Through this acquisition, Piraeus Bank group has a network of 61 branches in 28 cities in Bulgaria and enhances its position in the local banking market by achieving a market share of about 4.5 percent.» Piraeus Bank acquired 99.7 percent of Eurobank AD. The deal was clinched in late January. Eurobank is Bulgaria’s 16th largest bank in terms of assets, which stood at 382.5 million Bulgarian levs ($255.7 million) at the end of September, central bank data showed. (Reuters) Eurobank results EFG Eurobank, Greece’s third-largest lender by assets, said yesterday first-quarter group net profit grew 35.2 percent to 108.5 million euros ($137 million), above consensus, boosted by strong lending growth. Analysts in a Reuters poll were forecasting group net earnings after minorities to rise 30 percent to 104 million euros, on average. The bank, reporting under international accounting standards (IFRS), said net interest income rose 25.4 percent to 308.4 million euros. (Reuters) Bulgaria aluminum French aluminum car parts maker Montupet plans to invest 70 million levs ($45.28 million) over the next three years in Bulgaria, the EU aspirant’s investment agency said yesterday. The agency said the government had approved Montupet’s plan to build a plant at the town of Rousse by the Danube River for the production of aluminium wheel rims, engine and chassis parts for Renault, Peugeot, Citroen, Audi and Ford. «The French company prefers to build its plant in Bulgaria after also considering different sites in Romania and Slovakia,» a press official for the Bulgarian Investment Agency said. The new plant will employ 867 people and will export parts to car factories in Turkey, Romania, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. (Reuters)