In Brief

Government ‘committed’ to cutting deficit, EU time extension possible Economy and Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis told his eurozone counterparts in Brussels late on Monday that his government is «totally committed» to bringing Greece’s fiscal deficit below the EU-prescribed limit of 3 percent of GDP this year. He said the government has not yet asked for a one-year extension to the deadline for achieving the target but this will «depend on developments.» Separately, Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said whether Greece will be granted an extension will not be decided before March, when EU finance ministers (Ecofin) will meet to consider the Commission’s report on the Greek budget. Almunia refused to be drawn himself on such an extension in principle. Greek industrialists sign cooperation deals in Israel The Federation of Greek Industries (SEV) and the Exporters’ Association of Northern Greece (SEVE) this week signed important agreements in Israel for the creation of consortiums and the strengthening of business cooperation in sectors of common interest. Over the last two years trade between Greece and Israel has risen by 40 percent, reaching $414 million. Israel is now the main destination for Greek exports in the Middle East. Marac’s OTE deal Listed electronics company Marac will supply state telecom OTE with 100,000 ASDL2+ lines of the Chinese telecom firm ZTE, for the Greek network of broadband services, costing 2.5 million euros. It is an extension of the already installed ADSL network that operated during the Athens Olympics in 2004. The new technology will allow OTE to offer subscribers the so-called Triple Play – i.e. television, telephony and Internet services – all via a single line. Proton-Omega Recently listed Proton Bank said in a stock market filing yesterday it was in talks to merge with unlisted Omega Bank via a share swap. «Proton Investment Bank is informing the investment public that talks with Omega Bank management are continuing,» the bank said. Proton said its management was looking into a merger with Omega, a move that will not involve cash. Proton, with a current market value of 316 million euros, went public in December last year raising 17.5 million euros. Omega Bank has a network of 18 branches. (Reuters) Vodafone Albania Vodafone Albania said yesterday its subscriber numbers rose by 20.84 percent last year to 748,000 customers at the end of December 2005. A total 96.7 percent of Vodafone Albania subscribers at the end of December were using prepaid services. The mobile operator registered a 4.91 percent rise in customer base compared to the end of September. (Seenews) Extension The Finance Ministry yesterday offered an extension until Friday for all deadlines concerning taxpayers and corporations due to the adverse weather conditions.

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