In Brief

OPAP to submit plan for betting on Greek matches next week Gambling and lottery company OPAP will seek government approval next week for the inclusion of Greek soccer matches in its flagship betting game Stoichima, its chief executive said yesterday. «We will submit a proposal next week to the two relevant ministries,» CEO Vassilis Niadas told reporters. Last month, OPAP said it would gradually include Greek soccer matches in Stoichima bets, starting from the 2005-6 soccer season, as part of a revamp of the game aimed at boosting profit and market share. It now offers only foreign matches in betting. The company has said it would set up a subsidiary to manage and operate Stoichima bets after the end of its contract with gaming operator Intralot in early 2007. Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis said the state would seek to maintain OPAP’s monopoly of the Greek betting market which runs to 2020. «The state will do whatever it can to maintain OPAP’s monopoly,» he told reporters. Last week, the state sold a 16.44 percent stake in OPAP, cutting its holding down to about 35 percent. (Reuters) OTE looks forward to reaping early retirement benefits Greece’s main telecoms provider OTE expects a 170-million-euro annual drop in operating costs due to an early retirement plan and other restructuring changes, its CEO was quoted as saying yesterday. The benefits from its restructuring and the voluntary redundancy plan will be felt in 2007, CEO Panagis Vourloumis told financial daily Naftemboriki. OTE, 37.7 percent state-owned, aims to shed about a third of its staff of 16,215 over a 12-month period to cut costs and shore up profits. It has estimated the cost of up to 6,000 voluntary redundancies at 1.5 billion euros, with the government financing a fifth of the cost. Annual savings from the plan are estimated at 250 million euros. (Reuters) Minoan Ferry operator Minoan Lines yesterday said that it had sold its entire 4.4 percent stake in fellow ferry operator ANEK Lines but did not disclose the price, adding only that proceeds from the stake sale would be used to reduce bank borrowing. On Wednesday, Minoan sold its entire 18.04 percent stake in Internet service provider and telecoms operator FORTHnet to telecoms equipment maker Intracom, raising about 15.3 million euros, with the proceeds again to be used to reduce bank debt. (Reuters) Intralot Gaming systems operator Intralot said yesterday it had signed a deal with Egypt Post for the installation and operation of an online computer system for financial transactions. The initial investment in the project, which is expected to start in the first quarter of 2006, will amount to 10 million euros. The project involves the creation and operation of a network at Egypt Post outlets that will allow financial transactions to be conducted. Egypt Post combines postal services with banking services and has a 50 percent share of the Egyptian market, Intralot said. (Reuters) VAT-exempt There will be no value-added tax (VAT) on the purchase of primary residential property, high-level sources in the Economy Ministry said yesterday. The relevant bill will be unveiled next week, imposing 19 percent VAT on all new constructions. The government expects the new system to rationalize the market and reduce revenue losses for the state.

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