In Brief

EU and China agree to expand talks on textiles The European Commission said yesterday it had agreed to intensify negotations with China on its surging textiles exports after two days of talks between the two sides it said were «constructive.» «The Commission and China agreed today that these talks will continue and intensify,» said Commission trade spokeswoman Claude Veron-Reville in a statement. «It remains our goal to reach a negotiated agreement.» The Commission, in charge of trade policy for the 25-nation European Union, said earlier it did not rule out an amicable settlement with Beijing before May 31, the latest date at which it plans to request formal consultations on T-shirts and flax yarn, launching a 15-day countdown to possible import curbs. (Reuters) SDOE to focus on tax-evading companies and illicit trading The Financial Crimes Squad (SDOE) is expanding its inspections from small and medium-sized enterprises to construction and service companies. Cross-checking of such firms’ data showed that many do not pay the tax amounts they ought to and that they often use nominal invoices. SDOE inspections will be made sector by sector, mainly where high returns and turnover are recorded. The squad is also after products without documents from third countries distributed from at least 200 points in Attica. Those spots have been marked by SDOE and will be checked on a daily basis, even on weekends. The boom in illegal trading, along with considerable revenue losses, is forcing the Finance Ministry’s leadership to set up an anti-illegal trading squad, with Development Ministry officials also to participate. PPP conference The British Embassy in Greece is today holding a conference on public-private partnerships (PPP), with keynote speakers to include Economy Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis and City of London Mayor Alderman Michael Savory. Also addressing the event will be British company officials with PPP expertise. Savory and the officials met with Alogoskoufis yesterday, suggesting UK firms may well be involved in Greek PPP schemes. Astir Palace Hotel By this fall the National Bank of Greece (NBG), the main shareholder in the Astir Palace Hotel in Vouliagmeni, will invite interest for the hotel’s management, chairman and CEO of both companies, Takis Arapoglou said. In the next weeks, the survey ordered by NBG will reveal the hotel’s profits should the bank maintain its management, which will also serve for comparisons with any proposals to come. In 2005, the Astir group is expecting a 20 percent rise in bookings. Nikas expansion Listed food firm Nikas is planning a major expansion into the Balkans in 2005 and 2006, aimed at assuming a leading role. In Albania and Serbia, investments will reach 10-15 million euros. In Romania, a commercial network may be set up by October, while in Bulgaria and the Former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia, Nikas aims at leading the market. BoG The Bank of Greece (BoG) said yesterday it will increase its share capital by 22.24 million euros via a one-for-three bonus share issue. The central bank will issue a total of 3,972,977 bonus shares, each with a par value of 5.6 euros. After the issue, its share capital will rise to 88.99 million euros, divided into 15,891,909 shares. (Reuters)