ECONOMY

In Brief

Geniki Bank back in the black after year of restructuring Geniki Bank returned to profit in the first quarter of the year. At end-March profits were at 1.5 million euros, against a loss of 74.3 million euros in Q1 of 2004. Net profits were at 1.1 million euros and after-tax group profits for the Geniki Bank group came to 1.8 million euros. In 2004, the bank had shown high losses due to a strict restructuring process by its new strategic shareholder, Societe Generale. Deposits, including repos, totaled 2,872 million euros at end-March, posting a rise of 177 million euros or 6.6 percent from the previous quarter. Loans rose by 0.5 percent to 2,532 million euros. Net operating revenues rose by 31.3 percent, to 42.4 million euros. The bank announced that in the last few months, it focused on concentrating commercial activities on core business operations along with the sale or shutdown of non-strategic subsidiaries. Significant changes were made to Geniki’s organizing structure, creating regional centers to monitor production more efficiently. The bank’s shares are trading ex-dividend as of today. The Societe Generale group has also confirmed its intention to strengthen Geniki’s development, saying it is ready to participate in the share capital increase as presented at the AGM last month. The bank will draw 100.1 million euros, with four new shares sold for every 10 old ones at 6 euros each. PM, finance minister meet EIB chief to discuss big project financing Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and Economy Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis yesterday met with European Investment Bank (EIB) President Philippe Maystadt to discuss the financing of several big infrastructure projects over the following years. EIB, the European Union’s long-term credit institution, will provide 1.8 billion euros in loans this year for the Egnatia Highway, the Thessaloniki metro and a project to build a link of the Athens-Thessaloniki highway in central Greece. Heracles loss Heracles Cement, majority-owned by France’s Lafarge, reported first-quarter pretax losses yesterday, hit by falling sales in the domestic market and higher fuel costs. The first-quarter showed a loss of 2.9 million euros ($3.53 million), Heracles said, based on International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). The company had posted a 14-million-euro pretax profit a year earlier under Greek accounting standards. Heracles said in a statement sales fell 6.3 percent to 120.2 million euros, as demand slowed at the end of the Athens Olympic Games. Heracles, with three cement plants, has an annual total production capacity of 9.6 million tons. (Reuters) PPC Moody’s Investors Service yesterday upgraded Greece’s Public Power Corporation (PPC) two notches to «A2» from «Baa1.» The agency said in a statement the upgrade was the result of a review of its methodology for rating government-related companies. (Reuters) Cleanup project The World Bank announced yesterday that it was giving Albania a $17.5-million (14.45-mln-euro) loan to clean up its coastal areas. The loan, over seven years, is «to protect Albania’s coastal natural resources and cultural assets and promote sustainable development on the Albanian coast,» the World Bank’s office in Tirana said. Total cost of the project is estimated at $38.6 million (31.87 mln euros) and will also be financed with grants from the Dutch, Austrian and Japanese governments, the European Commission and the Albanian government itself.