ECONOMY

In Brief

Gazprom mulls deals with Greece in both gas and oil Russian gas giant Gazprom said yesterday it was investigating working with Greece in both the gas and oil sectors. «We discussed supplying Greece with natural gas and we discussed the possibility of Greece becoming a transit country (for gas),» said visiting Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller after meeting with Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas. «There is a proposal that Gazprom take part in the Burgas-Alexandroupolis project,» Miller said, referring to the planned 285-kilometer pipeline to carry Russian oil from Bulgaria’s Black Sea port to Greece’s Aegean coast. Bulgaria, Greece and Russia signed a 522-million-euro agreement in April to build the privately funded trans-Balkan oil pipeline. It is scheduled for completion by the end of the decade. (AP) AIA passenger traffic up 4.5 percent in 2005 Athens International Airport (AIA) posted a 4.5 percent rise in passenger traffic last year, its highest since it opened in 2001, in a knock-on effect from a successful Olympic Games in 2004. AIA said yesterday 14.3 million passengers used the airport in 2005, with traffic on international routes up 6.5 percent due to strong growth in charters and scheduled flights. Domestic traffic increased 1.2 percent. AIA said it handled 1.6 million foreign tourists last year, a 16 percent rise, which it attributed to the positive impact of the Athens Olympics. Five new airlines launched flights at the airport in 2005. (Reuters) Buoyant leu Romania’s leu hit a three-month peak versus the euro and Bucharest shares touched a new record peak yesterday, as foreign investors snapped up the high-yielding currency and bet on robust growth in the EU candidate. The blue chip stock index reached 8,409.38, its highest point since its 1997 launch, before giving back the day’s gains at the close. The index has gained more than 20 percent since the start of this year. (Reuters) Marfin buys Laiki stake HSBC bank said yesterday it had agreed to sell its 21.16 percent shareholding in Cyprus’s Laiki Bank for $235 million. HSBC said the purchasers were Greece’s Marfin Financial Group, hedge fund Tosca and Laiki Bank’s employees. Laiki said last month that HSBC was looking to get out of the Cypriot bank because it did not fit in with its strategy. Turkey loan The World Bank has agreed to lend Turkey $325 million to build an underground natural gas storage facility, the Turkish Treasury said yesterday. Turkey imports gas mainly from Russia and Iran. (Reuters) Athens-London British Airways is adding another daily flight from Athens to London to its summer timetable, from March 28 to end-October. Flight BA2641 will land at Gatwick Airport, raising the number of BA’s daily flights between the Greek and British capitals to four.