In Brief

NBG plans more early retirements National Bank (NBG), Greece’s largest, is preparing a yet bigger voluntary retirement scheme in 2006 than last year’s, in which about 1,500 staff took part, sources said. The plan is aimed at bringing in younger and better-educated branch staff, who, as newcomers, will also lower NBG’s payroll. Last year’s scheme is estimated to have created annual savings of 70 million euros. Greek-American business symposium in Chicago Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas will be the keynote speaker at a symposium organized by the United Hellenic-American Congress (UHAC) and the World Council of Hellenes Abroad in Chicago’s Drake Hotel on September 29. The event, titled «Technology and Investment in Greece: Economic Center of Southeastern Europe and Gateway to the Balkans and the EU,» will be followed by a day of personal business contacts on September 30. For more information, call +1-312.337.7243, or e-mail [email protected] Emporiki Emporiki Bank, 11 percent-owned by France’s Credit Agricole, received shareholder approval yesterday for a 5-for-20, 397-million-euro rights issue at 15 euros a share. Credit Agricole’s participation in Emporiki’s capital increase will depend on market conditions, the French bank’s representative told shareholders. Botas cancels Turkish state pipeline company Botas said yesterday it had canceled privatization tenders for natural gas import contracts, estimated to be worth a total of $4 billion. The company said in a statement it had set a new tender date for November 30. A law passed in 2001 envisages Botas selling its natural gas imports and wholesale contracts to lower its market share to 20 percent by 2009. The contracts correspond to 64 percent of Turkey’s 25-billion-cubic-meter natural gas consumption (Reuters) Cyprus surplus A cash windfall from a tax amnesty kept Cyprus’s public finances in a rare surplus in the first half of the year, state accounts published yesterday showed. There was a 37.1-million-pound surplus in the first half, or 0.5 percent of GDP. The figures are not indicative of the whole year, which authorities expect to end with a shortfall of 2.9 percent of GDP. (Reuters) Larko State-run mining firm Larko is attracting interest from foreign investors, bolstered by the rising global price of nickel and prospects for its own electricity production, particularly from wind power, sources said. A decision on the search for a strategic investor is expected soon. Emirates Nick Rees, formerly Emirates Airline’s commercial analysis manager for Europe and N. America, has been appointed general manager for the firm in Greece. Rees said the carrier plans to add a sixth direct Athens-Dubai flight weekly after launching a fifth next month.