In Brief

C/A deficit rises sharply in January Greece’s current account deficit widened by 348 million euros, or 19 percent, year-on-year in January to hit 2.174 billion euros, data from the Bank of Greece showed yesterday. The data showed a deterioration in all balances, except in current transfers, in which the surplus grew considerably. «The widening of the trade deficit by 409 million euros is accounted for by a 202-million-euro rise in the net oil import bill and a 215-million-euro increase in the trade deficit, excluding oil and ships. The ships’ balance did not show any considerable change,» the central bank said. «Gross transport (mainly shipping) receipts grew by 36 million euros or 3.2 percent year-on-year.» Athens airport and Piraeus port to create cargo link Athens International Airport and the Piraeus Port Authority yesterday signed an agreement to establish a seamless sea-air cargo link, a joint statement said. The agreement, effective April 1, includes accelerated handling procedures for the unloading of ships at Piraeus, the statement said, and a direct truck-shuttle service with favorable cost and handling terms. A rail link may be added in the future. (AP) Geniki Bank Geniki Bank, majority-owned by France’s Societe Generale, yesterday reported a 2005 net loss of 16 million euros as it took provisions on its loan portfolio. The bank had lost 77.9 million a year earlier, based on international accounting standards (IFRS). Geniki said it took 37.8 million euros in loan-loss provisions last year. Its cost-to-income ratio improved to 88.2 from 98.6 percent. (Reuters) Romtelecom Romania hopes to float a 46 percent stake, worth up to $1 billion, in phone operator Romtelecom, majority owned by Greek OTE, by the end of September, Communications Minister Zsolt Nagy said yesterday. He said the government was talking to Credit Suisse First Boston about the bank taking an advisory role. «We’re negotiating the terms of the deal. We hope to sign the contract with CSFB in the coming days,» Nagy told Reuters. (Reuters) Shipping profits Two of Greece’s leading ferry operators yesterday reported healthy profits for 2005. Minoan Lines posted net profits of 17 million euros, up 39.5 percent from 2004, while ANEK returned to profits (10.4 million euros) against losses of 3.1 million euros in 2004. Separately, Attica Holdings announced it had sold three of its vessels, SuperFast VII, VIII and IX to AS Talink Group for 310 million euros. The deal will be completed within the next month. Bulgarian growth Bulgaria’s economy grew at a rate of around 5.8 percent last year, Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev said yesterday.