In Brief

Credit Agricole confirms interest in Emporiki French bank Credit Agricole said yesterday it will take part in a 397-million-euro capital increase for Emporiki Bank. A spokesman confirmed a newspaper report that it was likely to participate, as did an official at Emporiki Bank. «We received a letter from Credit Agricole on Dec. 7 in which it says that the bank will participate in the rights issue and it will cover any unexercised rights,» the Emporiki official told Reuters. Credit Agricole has 9 percent of Emporiki’s share capital and 11 percent of its voting rights. It also has an option to buy a 9.5 percent stake by the end of the year. Last month there was a dispute between Greece and Credit Agricole over the terms of an agreement allowing Agricole to sell back its stake in the Greek lender at the original price it paid in 2001. Both sides have recently downplayed the issue. (Reuters) Third CSF absorption rate still at 36 percent Investment subsidies absorbed under the EU-sponsored Third Community Support Framework (CSF) for the 2001-2006 period have now reached 8.7 billion euros, or 36 percent of the package, Deputy Economy Minister Christos Folias said yesterday. A further 14 billion is hoped to be absorbed with a two-year extension. Folias said the government aimed at «creating a modern infrastructure production framework, which views CSF’s proper utilization on the basis of an investment philosophy rather than expenditure.» ELVO EU regulators will investigate the Greek government’s 3.5-million-euro bailout of military vehicle firm ELVO, the European Commission said yesterday. The EU state aid watchdog said it doubted that a decision to write off ELVO debts owed to the public sector from 1988-1998 covered just military vehicles for the Greek army. It said it believed the 1999 write-off – in effect a state subsidy – may have also covered jeeps and spare parts sold commercially. ELVO is the Greek army’s main supplier of tanks and armored vehicles. According to EU rules, governments are allowed to subsidize only military production. (AP) Cyprus Coke Cyprus Coke bottler Lanitis Bros is considering the possible inclusion of a foreign investor in the company, it said yesterday, sending its stock sharply higher. Greek-Cypriot daily Politis said in an unsourced report yesterday that a foreign investor, and «possibly» Greece’s Coca-Cola HBC, were interested in taking a stake in Lanitis. (Reuters) Bulgarian surplus Bulgaria expects to end the current year with a budget surplus of about 2 percent of GDP, Finance Minister Plamen Oresharski said yesterday. Bulgaria has initially projected a fiscal deficit of 0.5 percent of GDP for 2005 but it agreed with the IMF to aim for a fiscal surplus in order to offset macroeconomic risks posed by a widening current account gap. (SeeNews)