ECONOMY

In Brief

Piraeus Bank reports record, one-off, Q1 profit Piraeus Bank yesterday reported a 335 percent rise in first-quarter group net profit, at the top end of market expectations, boosted by one-off capital gains and strong loan growth. The bank said net earnings rose to 186 million euros ($238 million). «The performance… during the first quarter is very satisfactory with a 50 percent increase in net profit, which rises to 335 percent including non-recurring profit due to the unwinding of the cross shareholding with ING,» the group’s chief executive, Michael Sallas, said in a statement. Piraeus said its loan portfolio grew by 30 percent year-on-year to 17.05 billion euros, with deposits up 26 percent. It said growth in mortgage loans reached 49 percent to 3.67 billion euros, higher than the market average. (Reuters) Cosmote to finish buyout of Germanos by end of summer Mobile operator Cosmote expects to complete the purchase of 42 percent of phone accessory retailer Germanos at the end of August with a public offer for minorities finishing at the end of September, it said in a stock market filing yesterday. The operator said that it will sell back Germanos’s non-core activities to its founder for a slightly higher price than previously announced. «Cosmote and Panos Germanos agreed on a firm value of 158.1 million euros ($200.5 million) for Germanos’s activities which are not included in its strategic priorities,» Cosmote said. Following the public tender offer, Panos Germanos will buy a 10 percent stake in Germanos for about 145 million euros, keeping the shares for three to five years, said Cosmote. (Reuters) Titan Cement producer Titan beat expectations yesterday with a 58 percent rise in first-quarter net profit, thanks to robust growth in its domestic and foreign operations. Net profit rose to 43 million euros ($55 million) compared with an average forecast of 33 million euros in a Reuters poll of eight analysts. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) rose 40 percent to 80 million euros. Sales increased by 34 percent to 335 million euros. (Reuters) M&S Marks & Spencer enjoyed a rise of 18 percent in its sales over the first four months of 2006 compared with a difficult 2005, with the company now turning to consolidating its presence in Greece as well as in the markets of Romania, Slovenia, Croatia, Bulgaria and Switzerland. Anita Sabarwal, the chain’s commercial director, told Kathimerini that «this year has begun with the best prospects,» adding that another seven stores will open in Greece. Sales this year are projected at 110 million euros, from 94 million last year. Cyprus inflation Cyprus’s EU harmonized inflation was running at 2.5 percent year on year in April from 2.6 percent in March, the statistics department said yesterday. For the January-April 2006 period the index increased by 2.4 percent compared to the same period of 2005. (Reuters) Romania inflation Romania’s consumer inflation fell to a post-communist record low of 6.9 percent year-on-year in April from 8.4 percent a month before, the National Statistics Board (INS) said yesterday. (Reuters)