ECONOMY

In Brief

Travel agents warn against implications of Bolkestein directive The Hellenic Association of Travel and Tourist Agencies (HATTA) yesterday expressed concern about how the Bolkestein directive to open up the EU service sector will impact the group’s members if it is approved. «Large EU enterprises will impose their own policy on tourism aiming at profiteering and resulting in the downgrading of the Greek tourism product,» HATTA stated. It cited the confusion stemming from the possible use of 25 different types of national legislation in the country of reception and said tourists will not be protected from illegal practices as monitoring will be impossible. Economic climate index improves in January Greece’s Economic Climate Index improved for the third straight month in January, rising to 93.6 points from 92.1 in January, and approaching a 12-month high, according to the monthly report of the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE). The improvement was mainly due to stronger consumer confidence and rosier forecasts for employment and the construction industry. A lesser improvement was recorded in industry. Sentiment also improved slightly in retailing but slipped in services. CCHBC expands Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Co (CCHBC) said yesterday it has agreed to buy Italian water firm Traficante Group jointly with the Coca-Cola Co. CCHBC, the world’s second-largest bottler of Coca-Cola products by sales, said the total cost of buying Traficante Group including debt is 35 million euros. «Through today’s acquisition of Traficante, we have gained a very important foothold in Europe’s largest packaged water market,» CCHBC Chief Executive Doros Constantinou said in a statement. Non-carbonated soft drinks made up 23 percent of CCHBC’s total sales volume in 2004 versus 19 percent in 2003. (Reuters) Turkey’s social security The Turkish Parliament’s planning and budget commission is set to start talks on a bill reforming the country’s social security administration under a package overhauling the whole system, commission officials told Reuters yesterday. The package also includes another bill raising the retirement age and reforming the pension system, as sought by the International Monetary Fund as part of a fresh three-year $10 billion loan program signed in last May. (Reuters) Aegean certified Aegean Airlines is the first Greek carrier and the 88th worldwide to obtain an IOSA certification from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) concerning the operational safety control of an airline. Forthnet Internet service provider and telecoms operator Forthnet has hired National Bank of Greece and Merrill Lynch to raise around 150 million euros in a rights issue later this year, a source familiar with the matter said yesterday. (Reuters)