In Brief

Government to intensify efforts to defuse pension system ‘time bomb’ Greece’s pension system amounts to a «time bomb» in the foundations of economy and society and must be defused in time, Economy and Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis said yesterday. Speaking at an event of the Hellenic-American Chamber of Commerce on the issue, he said the government will intensify reform efforts this year. «We are not talking about an overthrow but rather an adjustment of the system,» he said. Alogoskoufis claimed that the deficit of the country’s pension system was around 200 percent of GDP. By 2050, government contributions to the pension fund system will triple to 15 percent of GDP, he said, adding that this will come at the cost of education, investment and tax relief. ATEBank to resume dividend payouts ATEBank plans to pay a dividend for 2005 after boosting its capital via a 1.24-billion-euro rights issue last year, a senior bank official said yesterday. ATEBank, 85 percent state-owned, did not pay a dividend in 2004 as it posted a loss of 89 million euros. «The bank will return to its dividend policy this year. We are looking for a way to pay a dividend as well as an extraordinary dividend for the year 2005,» the official said. The government plans to sell 10 percent of ATEBank this year. «With the capital increase we have the opportunity and we want to return something good to our shareholders,» the official added. (Reuters) FDI in Bulgaria Greek foreign direct investment (FDI) in Bulgaria fell to just 89 million euros, or 5.9 percent of the total in the 11 months to November 2005, pushing Greece into fourth spot from second previously, behind Austria, the UK and Switzerland, according to the Bulgarian central bank. FDI totaled 1.5 billion euros in this period. HSBC in Turkey British-based bank HSBC plans to double its branch network and staffing in Turkey by 2010 and introduce new services, Chairman Sir John Bond said. «We intend to make a substantial investment in our business in Turkey, doubling its size over the next five years,» Bond told a news conference in Istanbul. «We plan to double our network to over 350 branches,» he said. (Reuters) Bosnian mine Bosnia’s Serb Republic offered yesterday to sell 65 percent of state-owned bauxite mine Srebrenica at an international tender without setting a starting price. Potential bidders can buy tender documents by February 27 and place their offers no later than March 6, the Serb Republic Privatization Directorate said in a statement. Buyers should have had an annual revenue of at least 5.0 million marka (2.6 million euros) in 2004 in the previous year and pledge to keep the core activity of the mine for at least three years after the purchase. (SeeNews) Hotel award Miami-based Boutique Hotels rating agency has awarded Santorini’s Tsitouras Collection Hotel the five-star/luxury-class Diamond Status.

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