ECONOMY

In Brief

OPAP receives green light for bets on Greek soccer games OPAP, Europe’s biggest gaming company, said yesterday the Greek government had finalized its decision to allow inclusion of the country’s soccer matches in OPAP’s flagship fixed-odds betting game, Stoichima. «OPAP wants to inform the public that the amendment in the general operating rules for fixed-odds betting games was published in the government gazette on Feb. 13,» the company said in a stock market filing. OPAP, about 34 percent state-owned, has said it would add Greek soccer matches to its Stoichima game by the end of March, once the decision was published in the Government Gazette. It has taken a series of measures recently to rejuvenate Stoichima, which saw revenues decline 23 percent in the first nine months of last year as the novelty of the game waned. Analysts said the long-awaited inclusion of Greek premier league soccer could make Stoichima more attractive to players. Stoichima, which makes up about one-third of OPAP’s sales, now offers bets only on foreign soccer matches. (Reuters) Gov’t extends protection from creditors for Olympic Airlines The government yesterday submitted a parliamentary amendment to extend temporary protection granted to ailing state carrier Olympic Airlines from its creditors until the end of October. The protection from creditors, initially enacted last September, was due to expire at the end of this month after an adverse EU Commission ruling on state aid that made the government’s effort to privatize Olympic more difficult. In an amendment to a transport bill, Olympic Airlines, Olympic Airways Services and Olympic Airways have been granted an eight-month extension of their protection from creditors until Oct. 31, 2006. Last September, the EU executive ruled that Olympic Airways and its successor, Olympic Airlines, must repay as much as 540 million euros in illegal state aid to the Greek government. The EU executive found that previous cash handouts to Olympic were distorting competition and threatened Athens with infringement procedures. Despite the setback of the ruling from Brussels, the government is continuing talks with potential candidate buyers and has said it will exhaust all margins to clinch a sale. (Reuters) EFG appointment EFG Eurobank said yesterday Constantinos Morianos will be the new managing director at its fully owned asset management subsidiary, replacing Efthymios Bouloutas, who joined Marfin Financial Group. Morianos, formerly a fund manager at Alpha Investments and general manager at closed-end fund Hellenic Investments, has been with EFG Eurobank since 2001. (Reuters) Move The general secretary of the Finance Ministry, Constantinos Michalos, has resigned to pursue opportunities in the private sector, the Finance Ministry said. Michalos will be active at the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry in view of forthcoming elections, the ministry said. (Reuters)