ECONOMY

In Brief

GDP growth slows down in Q1 but still outpaces eurozone’s Greece’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 3.5 percent in the first quarter of 2005, outpacing the eurozone average, according to provisional data by the National Statistics Service (NSS) published yesterday. The figure, nevertheless, shows a marked slowdown from the same period of 2004, when last-minute preparations for the Olympic Games mainly accounted for a sturdy 4.3 percent GDP growth. Annual economic growth in the eurozone was 1.3 percent year-on-year and 0.5 percent quarter-on-quarter in the first quarter of the year. The NSS data show a 6.6 percent rise in exports to 6 billion euros, and a 2.3 percent rise in imports, to 8.9 billion euros. Expenditure for final consumption rose by 4 percent against a 3.8 percent increase in the first quarter of 2004. However, investment fell 1 percent to 7.86 billion euros in Q1: This post-Olympic decline will slow the economy’s final demand by 0.2 percent, the NSS said. Village Roadshow to open new cinema multiplex at Faliron Listed construction company Babis Vovos has signed a leasing agreement with Village Roadshow to lease part of the recreation center it is constructing at Palaio Faliron. The building covers 9,734 square meters and will have a surface area of 23,576 sq.m., of which 40 percent has already been built. It will have two buildings and Village Roadshow has leased 6,150 sq.m. on three levels of one building for 12 years. It will operate a multiplex including special V-MAX and Gold Class screens, with more seats and frills. The center will open in early 2006. BNP Paribas expansion French bank BNP Paribas is planning its further expansion in Greece, its private banking CEO, François Debiesse, announced yesterday in Athens. The big private clients’ banking market in Greece is showing good development prospects, so the bank’s strategy is set to expand at a rapid pace, Debiesse said, adding that this will be made through hiring expert staff and through acquisitions if occasions arise for fast expansion in this sector. Industrial output down Greek industrial output fell 3.2 percent year-on-year in April, hit by a sharp drop in mining production and weaker manufacturing output, the country’s statistics service (NSS) said yesterday. Industrial output had declined 4.9 percent in March. The NSS said March manufacturing output fell 3.7 percent year-on-year after a 5.5 percent decline in March. (Reuters) Progress fund EFG Eurobank, Greece’s third-largest lender by assets, said yesterday it will merge with its closed-end fund arm Progress via a share swap. Progress shareholders will get one Eurobank share for every 7.9 shares of the closed-end fund and will be entitled to this year’s dividend. Eurobank currently holds 48.4 percent of Progress. The merger will allow economies of scale, the bank said. (Reuters) Loutraki casino Piraeus Bank has transferred 6,221,250 shares of Club Hotel Loutraki-Casino Tourism and Hotel Enterprises SA to its subsidiary Piraeus Real Estate, with an option for more under the same terms within two years.