ECONOMY

In Brief

Threat of 20,000-euro-per-day fine until Olympic returns state subsidy BRUSSELS – The European Commission is threatening Greece with further fines unless Olympic Airlines returns 161 million euros, deemed an illegal subsidy, to the state. Commission Vice President and Transport Commissioner Jacques Barrot said yesterday he is still waiting for an answer from Athens on the time and method of the subsidies’ return. Had Greece presented a serious proposal for the sale of the airline he would have been more flexible, he stated, but this has not happened, so the Commission will take this case of non-compliance to the European Court. A new court decision against Greece could mean a daily fine of 20,000 euros until full compliance. The time frame of recourse to the court remains unclear, with Barrot saying this is a decision his directorate will decide, not himself. Good news for domestic and foreign investment The investment incentives law has attracted plans for investment in 2006 which by mid-June reached a total of 3.8 billion euros, with 1,180 of them approved for subsidization, running a total budget of 1.8 billion euros. The Economy Ministry estimates that by the end of the year, the plans approved will add up to over 2.5 billion euros. Bank of Greece data for the first four months of the year show a rise in the net influx of foreign direct investment by 141 percent, reaching 374 million euros. Influxes came to 601 million euros and outflows reached 227 million euros. The National Statistics Service saw investment rise by 6.9 percent in the first quarter of 2006, and expects this to continue or improve in the next quarters. Armentel bidders Telecoms provider OTE said yesterday it short-listed four bidders, among them two top Russian mobile operators, for the sale of its 90 percent stake in Armenian telecoms firm Armentel. Mobile TeleSystems (MTS) and Vimpelcom, Russia’s largest and second-largest mobile phone providers respectively, were invited to take part in the next phase of the sale, Greece’s largest telecoms group said. Analysts estimated the value of the stake at about 250 million euros. Other short-listed bidders included the consortium of Abu Dhabi-based Emirates Telecommunications Corp (ETISALAT), UAE-based investment house Istithmar PJSC and Emergent Telecom Ventures (ETV), and another consortium of VTEL Holdings and Knightsbridge Associates. (Reuters) Egnatia capital Egnatia Bank approved yesterday the increase of its share capital by 93.8 million euros and the issue of bonds totaling up to 1 billion euros, to boost the cash flow and the capital adequacy of the group. «We want to have 1 billion euros in our arsenal, so if we need capital for realizing our moves we can have it immediately at our disposal,» said Andreas Vgenopoulos of Marfin Bank, which has joined forces with Egnatia. He is optimistic that from 2007 the «new Egnatia» will show «impressive profits.»