ECONOMY

In Brief

Athens Metro chief resigns,will run for mayor Leonidas Kikiras (photo) president of Attiko Metro since its founding in 1995, resigned yesterday to run for mayor of the Athens suburb of Zografou in the October elections. He was replaced by Yiannis Chrysikopoulos, a former top official at the Environment and Public Works Ministry. There was speculation that Kikiras was, in fact, evicted to make way for Chrysikopoulos by Environment and Public Works Minister Vasso Papandreou to make way for Chrysikopoulos, a confidant of former Minister Costas Laliotis. ELVO to remain in state hands, says Papantoniou Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou announced yesterday that the government will retain control of Hellenic Vehicle Industry (ELVO) by buying ETBA bank its 4-percent stake in the firm. ETBA is undergoing privatization. With this acquisition, the State’s direct stake in ELVO will rise to 52 percent. Papantoniou also announced, following a meeting with Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis and Development Minister Akis Tsochadzopoulos, that ELVO will build the «Kentavros» tank. The army command has approved the design and has asked for some improvements. Pension talks in March The government announced yesterday it expected to begin a new round of talks on reforming its ailing social pension system after March 20. Government spokesman Christos Protopappas said the issue had been discussed at a Cabinet meeting on Thursday. The European Commission said on January 30 that pension reform was one of the issues Greece had to tackle more rapidly, saying no progress had been made on the issue in 2001. Talks on reforming Greece’s pension system have been effectively on hold since May of last year, when government proposals to bring in a uniform retirement age of 65 and merge hundreds of pension funds met with fierce opposition. (Reuters) Starbucks arrives US coffeehouse chain Starbucks will expand into Greece, in partnership with the Marinopoulos Brothers retail store and pharmaceuticals, Starbucks Coffee International announced Thursday. The first store will be opened in Athens in the fall and the chain will expand throughout Greece. Founded in 1971 in Seattle, Starbucks now has over 5,000 cafes in North America, Asia, the Middle East and Europe. It simultaneously announced the opening of its first cafes in Germany and Spain. WPI rises Greece’s wholesale inflation rose to 2.4 percent year-on-year from 0.2 percent in November, the National Statistics Service (NSS) announced yesterday. Month-on-month, wholesale price inflation increased 1.2 percent and the average for 2001 came to 3.5 percent year-on-year, NSS said. (Reuters)