In Brief

Athens and Cyprus bourses agree on common platform NICOSIA (Reuters) – The bourses of Athens and Cyprus signed a deal yesterday for the creation of a common trading platform for the two markets, which will hopefully be operating next year. «This agreement lays the foundations for cooperation and will speed up preparations for a common platform based on an agreed timetable,» the two exchanges said in a statement. The Nicosia bourse, hit by a sharp correction in 1999 and 2000 which triggered a radical overhaul in its operations, hopes the new platform will enhance its visibility to overseas investors. Cypriot bourse officials have said they hope the new market will be up and running by January. Stocks traded on the platform, including Cypriot listings now quoted in the Cyprus pound, will be denominated in euros. TIM Hellas studying major bond issues AMSTERDAM/LONDON (Reuters) – Greek mobile phone operator TIM Hellas is considering offering 925 million euros ($1.14 billion) in senior secured floating rate notes due in 2012 and 355 million euros in senior notes due in 2013, it said yesterday. TIM Hellas, confirming a Reuters story published on Thursday, said in a statement that if the offering goes ahead, the notes will be denominated in a combination of euros and US dollars and the proceeds will be used to finance its buyout earlier this year by a private equity firm. The bond is one of several large deals expected in the European high-yield market to refinance leveraged buyouts by private-equity houses. TIM Hellas is Greece’s third-largest mobile phone company. The company was sold to Apax Partners and Texas Pacific this year by Telecom Italia’s mobile arm TIM. JP Morgan and Deutsche Bank are managing the bond sale. The funding will be used to repay short-term borrowing facilities taken out to buy 80.87 percent of TIM Hellas from Telecom Italia and to purchase the minority shares, the company said. In August, the company posted a 31 percent drop in first-half net profit to 19.6 million euros ($23.95 million), hit by competitive and regulatory pressures. In May, TIM Hellas launched a 250-million-euro secured revolving credit facility that paid a margin of 225 basis points over Euribor, according to Loan Pricing Corporation, the Reuters syndicated loans unit. Bulgaria tourism Tourists visiting Bulgaria rose by an annual 6.33 percent to 3.5 million people in the first eight months of this year, the government said in a statement yesterday. Foreign visitors boosted the Balkan state’s tourism revenue by 10.2 percent to 1.08 billion euros ($1.33 billion) through July, while net tourism revenue grew by 14.3 percent to 637.4 million euros, accounting for three percent of total GDP. Tourists from the European Union, mainly from Germany, Greece and Great Britain, made up most of the visitors. Many of them are buying summer houses, taking advantage of real estate prices that are a fraction of the EU average as Bulgaria gears up for entry in as early as 2007. (Reuters) Hellenic Petroleum The board of Hellenic Petroleum approved the setting up of a London-based special purpose vehicle (SVP) to advise the group’s subsidiaries, the refiner said in a stock market filing yesterday. The company will be called Hellenic Petroleum Finance Plc. (Reuters)