ECONOMY

In Brief

OTE stake not for sale, early retirement plan on track OTE telecom, Greece’s largest operator, yesterday dashed recent rumors it had received bids for a stake from other European peers. «Nobody wants to buy us, and nobody wants to sell,» Chief Executive Panagis Vourloumis told a news conference. Market speculation about potential investors has centerd on Spain’s Telefonica and smaller Portugal Telecom. Vourloumis also said OTE’s early retirement scheme was on track and that the number of applications, which is expected to see 3,500-4,500 staff take up the offer, was higher than expected one month before an October 14 deadline. «I believe (the target of) 70 percent of the 5,200 eligible employees will be achievable,» he said. Vourloumis added that the expected cost of the scheme, estimated at about 1.5 billion euros, would be booked in 2005 and that, as a result, the fixed-line business would report a loss for the year. OTE now employs about 16,000 staff. Petzetakis back in the black in first half Plastic pipes manufacturer Petzetakis yesterday reported a return to profitability in the first half, on the back of a rebound in sales and improved operating margins in the second quarter. The group posted a net profit after minorities of 1.65 million euros, against a loss of 324,000 euros in the same period last year. Sales were down 3.7 percent to 107.8 million. Profit before taxes, interest and depreciation (EBITDA) rose 34 percent to 12.6 million euros. The improvement in operating margins was realized mainly in Greece, while sales in the rest of Europe were up 6 percent and slightly down in South Africa. Thessaloniki-London British Airways is adding a fifth weekly flight from Thessaloniki to London Gatwick from tomorrow and until March 31, 2006. BA is offering return fares as low as 140 euros for bookings made until October 15. Greece-Korea The Federation of Greek Industries (SEV) and the South Korean Industries’ Association yesterday signed in Seoul a cooperation agreement providing for the setting up of a bilateral business council with a view to promoting economic relations and investment. Helexpo site Helexpo, the organizers of expositions including Thessaloniki International Fair, have launched their revamped internet portal, www.helexpo.gr, and hope to add more services for visitors and exhibitors soon, such as the two-way expoPartenariat communication facility.