ECONOMY

In Brief

Transport utilities to remain under government control Transport Minister Michalis Liapis said public transport utilities will remain under government control and not be merged. «The social and public character of transport will be preserved, as it is a public good which must be cheap and at the service of citizens. For these reasons they will continue being subsidized,» he said, although a single agency will be set up to coordinate their operation. He also said that OSE, the state train operator, is constantly upgrading its service with investments on the network and new trains, making this means of transport more competitive than others as it provides passengers with fast, cheap and safe transportation. Japanese employers talk business with Alogoskoufis A delegation from Nippon Keidanren, Japan’s main employers’ association, visited Economy Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis yesterday and expressed their interest in investing in transport, electronics, information technology and car manufacturing. The minister later said there is also interest by Japanese companies in the energy and tourism sectors. «Questions were so detailed and the delegation’s members are so important that it shows how serious the interest is for Greece; it is examined in the context of the broader region, as a development headquarters for Southeastern Europe,» Alogoskoufis said. No more taxes The danger of more tax hikes has passed and the next round of cuts will exclusively concern personal incomes and will begin in 2007, Economy and Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis said yesterday. OTE loan OTE telecoms said yesterday its subsidiary OTE plc finalized a syndicated loan of up to 850 million euro ($1.07 billion) to refinance existing debt owed by the unit and its mobile arm. OTE said in a statement 500 million euros would go to mobile subsidiary Cosmote to refinance a loan of up to $420 million expiring in November and to fund investments. OTE plc will use the remaining 350 million euros of the loan to refinance its existing syndicated loan, a backstop facility that the company has yet to use. The syndicated loan has a maturity of five years and can be extended by up to two years. Alpha Bank, Bank of America, Dresdner Bank, National Bank, HSBC and Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi were the lead arrangers for the loan. (Reuters) Bank of Cyprus The Bank of Cyprus will decide on the specifics of a forthcoming rights issue to fund expansion on September 15, it said in Nicosia yesterday. The value of the issue is expected to be in the region of 100 million Cyprus pounds ($215 million), a spokeperson of the group told Reuters. Bank of Cyprus plans to expand into the Balkans and Russia. (Reuters) Efes Anadolu Efes, producer of leading Turkish beer brand Efes Pilsen, said yesterday its consolidated net profit rose 7.93 percent in the first half of the year to 103.8 million new lira. According to data published on the website of the International Stock Exchange, the company achieved net sales of 747.87 million lira in the first half of the year, up six percent from 705.87 million in the same period a year earlier. Net operating profit fell 5.4 percent to 137.79 million in the same period. (Reuters)