ECONOMY

In Brief

Gov’t vies to boost lagging use of the Web The government will invest 184 million euros next year to boost broadband services in a bid to increase Internet use, Economy Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis said yesterday. «Our goal is broadband penetration by 7 percent of the population by 2008 from 0.7 percent today.» Greece has one of the lowest broadband penetrations in Europe, which has an average of 29 percent. Alogoskoufis attributed the delay in the implementation of the «Information Society» program to the hundreds of separate projects that only recently entered the broader plan of structural changes in the economy. Some 117 projects have entered the program, where the absorption of EU funds has in the last 18 months risen from 11 to 25.5 percent, he said. Main telecoms operator OTE aims to double the number of ADSL users to more than 120,000 this year from about 67,000 at the end of March. Forthnet rejects Intracom’s 8-euro offer as too low Internet service and telecoms provider Forthnet yesterday rejected a bid by telecoms equipment-maker Intracom to buy an additional 27 percent stake in it, saying the price was too low. «The public offer of 8 euros per share… is not fair, the acceptance of the public offer is not to the advantage of the company’s shareholders,» Forthnet said in a stock market filing. Intracom said late in September that it would make a tender offer of 8 euros per Forthnet share for a 27.09 percent stake in Forthnet, on top of the 22.5 percent stake it already had. The bid was worth about 36.5 million euros. (Reuters) Marfin reaches Omega Marfin Financial Group said yesterday it has signed an agreement to take over Omega Bank nearly two months after it bought a 10 percent stake in Egnatia Bank. Marfin said in a statement it will acquire a 20.9 percent stake in Omega Bank and shareholder voting rights representing 19.1 percent of Omega. Marfin said it plans to buy out other Omega shareholders after completing a 400-million-euro capital increase. (Reuters) Consumers No government initiative in consumer protection can be effective if consumers themselves do not play the leading role, Deputy Development Minister Yiannis Papathanassiou said yesterday. «It is the consumers who must formulate the market picture with their behavior, not the speculators,» he said. General Secretary for Consumer Affairs Thanassis Skordas said, «Advertising and marketing do not build trademarks; consumers do.» Unemployed The number of unemployed university graduates seeking placements through the labor unions’ Information Center for Workers and Unemployed (KEPEA) rose 57 percent in the nine months to September, against a rise of 41 percent in the number of all unemployed visiting the center. The majority of visitors were in the 18-30 age bracket and the number of women was up 65 percent.