ECONOMY

In Brief

Credit Agricole’s Emporiki bid receives regulator’s green light Greece’s securities regulator yesterday approved Credit Agricole’s tender offer prospectus to take over Emporiki Bank and set a July 25 deadline for any counteroffers. The Capital Market Commission said Emporiki shareholders will have until August 3 to decide whether to accept the French bank’s tender offer. Emporiki Bank, Greece’s fourth-largest lender by assets, is the highlight of the government’s privatizations agenda this year designed to pay down public debt. Credit Agricole’s all-cash tender offer for Emporiki at 23.5 euros a share values Emporiki at 3.1 billion euros. A rival cash-and-stock offer by Bank of Cyprus (BoC) values Emporiki at 30.37 euros a share, based on yesterday’s closing market prices. BoC is offering 3.25 of its own shares plus 6 euros in cash for each Emporiki share. Both tender offers have set a minimum acceptance threshold of 40 percent. Emporiki shares ended 0.3 percent lower at 27.10 euros yesterday. With a current market value of 3.6 billion euros, the bank trades at 21.8 times forecast 2006 earnings, a premium to other Greek banks where the average multiple is 15. (Reuters) Strategic cooperation between Greek and French water companies Thessaloniki Water (EYATH) yesterday denied a report that French water giant Suez had taken a 4.7 percent stake in the company but said the two firms were talking about strategic cooperation. «There are talks currently under way with the Suez group about possible strategic cooperation on projects in Greece and abroad,» EYATH said in a statement. It said no single shareholder, apart from the Greek government, owns more than 2 percent of the water company, nor had it received any notice from prospective investors interested in acquiring a strategic stake in the firm. Earlier yesterday, financial daily Imerisia reported that the Suez Group had taken a 4.7 percent stake in EYATH. (Reuters) Serbian credit Serbia said yesterday it would ask the Paris Club of sovereign creditors for an additional $1 billion of debt forgiveness, which it would then redirect into road infrastructure to ease transit to Southeast Europe. In November 2001, the Paris Club agreed to write down 66 percent on the country’s $4.5 billion debt. According to Serbia’s central bank statistics, Belgrade is now servicing a $2.3 billion debt to sovereign creditors. «We want to ask the Paris Club for a conditional debt forgiveness of 1 billion dollars,» Finance Minister Mladjan Dinkic told a news conference. It would be up to the Club to decide whether the forgiveness would be granted by all or some creditor states, he added. Dinkic said Greece was ready to back the plan and so was the World Bank. (Reuters) RES on show The Center for Renewable Energy Sources (CRES) is participating in the «Science and Technology Week» exhibition organized by the General Secretariat for Research and Technology at the Zappeion Hall in Athens until July 5. Titled «Creating a Sustainable Energy Future,» the CRES kiosk informs visitors about modern power-saving methods in buildings and displays RES applications. Younger visitors will be able to participate in the «Creating our own wind park» activity tomorrow at 11 a.m. Entrance is free from 10 a.m to 8 p.m.