ECONOMY

In Brief

Report says bridge fire probably due to faulty or damaged cable The fire which broke out on one of the cables of the 2.3-kilometer Rio-Antirio suspension bridge over the Gulf of Corinth in western Greece in January 2005 was not due to lightning, as claimed by the company which built the project and operates it, but was probably due to faulty construction or damage to the cable during transportation, a committee of experts has concluded. The committee, headed by National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) professor Aimilios Koronaios, prepared the report at the request of the Environment and Public Works Ministry. «The collected meteorological data during the crucial period of the event do not confirm a strike by lightning,» the report said. Ministry officials told Kathimerini the report does not indicate any safety problem in the project. «The designers of the project have made provision for such events and the bridge can be operated even with fewer cables,» he said, adding that further tests will be carried out to determine the extent of the problem and liabilities will be sought if necessary. Gefyra, the operating company, dismissed the official report in a statement on Sunday. No further ATEbank shares to go on sale this year The government does not plan to sell a second tranche of shares in state-controlled ATEbank this year after divesting a 7.2 percent stake earlier this month, a senior Finance Ministry official said yesterday. «We are not planning anything further through the end of 2006,» he told reporters. «We have concluded with ATEbank’s sale for this year.» The government sold 7.2 percent in the bank via a private placement with funds at 5.05 euros a share, raising 328 million euros on May 11. This was part of the government’s 1.65-billion-euro privatization agenda for this year aimed at raising funds to pay down public debt. Government officials had previously indicated that a second tranche of shares might be offered before year-end. (Reuters) Minoan posts loss Ferry operator Minoan Lines posted a 7.7-million-euro loss in the first quarter due to higher fuel costs and a weeklong strike by dock workers that shut down sea transport in Greece earlier this year. In the first three months of 2006, the main factors which negatively affected the results of the company and of the sector were the weeklong strike of dockworkers and the price of fuel, which reached the highest levels in recent years. Minoan said that first-quarter group losses were slightly below year-earlier losses of 7.8 million euros. Turnover also dipped slightly, falling to 33.1 million euros from 34.3 million euros in the same period in 2005. (Reuters) Folli Follie Jewelry maker and retailer Folli Follie posted a 6 percent rise in group first-quarter net profit yesterday, broadly in line with market expectations. Net profit came in at 16.5 million euros versus an average forecast of 15.8 million euros in a Reuters poll of eight analysts. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) rose 4.0 percent to 21 million euros, with sales up 16 percent to 61.8 million. (Reuters)