ECONOMY

In Brief

Competition Commission to examine possible fuel cartel practices Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas has asked the Competition Commission to investigate possible harmonized practices at gasoline stations along the main national road from Patras to Athens and Thessaloniki and on the Ionian Islands, in Crete, on Lesvos and in the Dodecanese as well as in the prefectures of Thesprotia and Evrytania in Western Greece. The ministry’s weekly price-monitoring across Greece at 2,300 stations has found unjustifiably high prices in those areas for many weeks, at around 1 euro per liter for unleaded gasoline. Investigations will be made both at gas stations and at fuel-trading companies. Government buys back OTE convertible bond The government lifted its stake in telecoms provider OTE to 48.6 percent after buying back an exchangeable bond in the company, OTE said in a stock market filing yesterday. The country’s dominant fixed-line phone company had flagged the move last week. The government had transferred 54 million shares, equal to a 10.9 percent stake in OTE, to special purpose vehicle Hellenic Exchangeable Finance in August 2001, which then issued a convertible bond with a face value of 1 billion euros. It has said it plans to sell a 10 percent stake in OTE in due course as part of its privatization drive to raise revenues to pay down public debt. (Reuters) Boosted profits Metals and engineering group Mytilineos posted a first-half group net profit of 159.5 million euros yesterday, helped by its purchase of Aluminium of Greece (AoG). Mytilineos had recorded 8.1 million euros in net profit in the year-earlier period. It bought a controlling stake in AoG earlier this year from Canadian aluminium producer Alcan Inc. Group earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) rose about four-fold to 82.3 million euros, with group sales up 150.8 percent to 368.7 million euros, Mytilineos announced. (Reuters) Car sales slow down Car sales in Greece continued their decline in July, dropping by 4.4 percent annually and recording 26,379 units sold against 27,595 units last year, according to data from the Association of Motor Vehicle Importers-Representatives (SEAA). In the January-to-July period, total sales were at 179,828 cars, down by 7.4 percent from 194,402 units in January-July 2004. Hyundai led last month with 2,729 cars sold, taking 10.3 percent of market share, followed by Toyota with 2,087 cars and a 7.9 percent share and Ford with 2,002 units sold and a 7.6 percent share. Livanos payment Belgian oil transporter Euronav said it hoped to complete its $1 billion purchase of a fleet of tankers within 10 days. In June, the company said it would pay cash and issue a total of 10.5 million shares to fund the purchase from Greek shipowner Peter Livanos’s Ceres Hellenic Shipping Enterprises. The Belgian company announced yesterday the completion of a fourth tranche of the transaction by paying cash and issuing 902,100 new shares to companies related to Tanklog, part of Livanos’s group. (Reuters)