ECONOMY

In Brief

Central bank worried about credit expansion The Bank of Greece is concerned at the rate of credit expansion and is considering ways of making both lenders and borrowers more careful. The central bank’s governor, Nicholas Garganas, who is in the US, said yesterday that a ceiling may be imposed on the size of monthly installments that a borrower may repay. The bank believes that, irrespective of the sum that is repaid, it should not exceed 30 percent of the borrower’s monthly available income. Garganas also said the central bank has assigned business research company ICAP to conduct a study on the extent to which households are overdebted. A similar study in 2003 had reached a negative conclusion. According to central bank data, mortgage loans in July increased 32.7 percent year on year, from 32.4 percent in June. By contrast, the growth rate of card credits dropped to 17.4 percent from 18.9 percent in June. Biggest Greek business mission to Russia ever Greece’s biggest ever business mission to Russia, including ministers, representatives of seven ministries and public agencies and about 170 businesspeople, is traveling to Russia for a flurry of meetings and the signing of cooperation agreements. «It is an important mission. We are striving to strengthen bilateral relations at a political level, bolster bilateral contacts at a technocratic level and launch deals with a view to increasing exports and bilateral investment,» said Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis, who is heading the mission. Separately, the Arab-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce and the Federation of Greek Industries are inviting early applications for participation in a business delegation to Saudi Arabia, November 17-24. Further information may be obtained by calling 210.323.2595, or via e-mail at [email protected] Erdemir The world’s biggest steel makers, Mittal Steel and Arcelor, were among six bidders for a 49.29 percent stake in Turkey’s Erdemir, the country’s privatization agency OIB said yesterday. In a statement, the agency said the other four bidding groups were: Turkey’s Eregli Ortak Girisim Grubu (EOGG); OYAK; Nurol, Limak, Ozaltin and Russia’s Severstal; and Rus Open Joint Stock Company-NLMK (Novolipetsk Iron and Steel Corp). Yesterday was the deadline for submitting bids to the agency for the block sale of Erdemir, Turkey’s largest producer of flat steel. OIB will now invite the bidders individually for talks. After they have made their bids face to face, a tender will be held in the form of an open auction. The auction is expected to be held next week. (Reuters) Forthnet Telecoms and Internet service provider Forthnet swung to a pretax profit in the first half of the year thanks to robust sales growth, it said yesterday. Group pretax profit came in at 377,598 euros ($455,100) compared with a 654,168-euro loss in the year earlier period, Forthnet said in a statement. Profit before tax, interest and depreciation rose 19 percent to 6.93 million euros, with sales up 14.1 percent to 45.7 million euros. Forthnet competes with former incumbent OTE and other smaller carriers in fixed-line telephony services. (Reuters)