ECONOMY

In Brief

Hellenic Shipyards’ state aid goes under Brussels’ spotlight BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Commission said yesterday it has opened a formal investigation into Greek government aid to Hellenic Shipyards SA (HSY), based near Athens in Skaramangas. The executive arm of the European Union said it would look into capital injections, guarantees and loans, as well as cross-subsidies between HSY’s military and civilian activities. Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said that although countries can spend money on military needs, «this safeguard cannot be used as a pretext for granting illegal state aid to civilian activities.» The Commission said the investigation followed others, including a probe into 160 million euros of restructuring aid granted in 1997 and nearly 30 million euros of aid in 2002. Export growth continues as trade deficit shrinks The value of Greek exports grew by 17.4 percent in the year’s first four months, reaching 5,033.8 million euros, against 4,286.2 million euros in the same period in 2005, when growth from 2004 had been 11 percent, according to data compiled by the Foreign Trade Board (OPE) which illustrate a steady rise in the last couple of years. The same data show a 6.2 percent decline in the trade balance deficit. Italy remains the biggest market for Greek exports, recording an impressive further rise of 28.31 percent year-on-year. T-bills sold Greece’s Public Debt Management Agency (PDMA) said yesterday it sold a total of 528 million euros of 13-, 26- and 52-week T-bills. The auction produced a weighted average yield of 3.39 percent for the 52-week T-bill, up from 2.97 percent in a previous April auction. The yield came to 3.13 percent for 26-week paper and 2.98 percent for 13-week T-bills. The settlement date is Friday, July 7. (Reuters) Leading brokers Greece’s 10 largest securities brokers out of the industry’s 67 shared 84.7 percent of trading business on the Athens stock exchange in June, according to official data released yesterday. The top 10 tightened their grip on trading business compared with November last year, when they shared 81.1 percent among a total of 70 brokerages. They were led by EFG Eurobank Securities (2,524 million euros), National Securities (2,353 million euros) and Piraeus-Sigma Securities (2,164 million euros). Total turnover in June reached 15.47 billion euros. (Reuters) Sweet deal Germany’s second-largest sugar refiner, Nordzucker, has taken a controlling shareholding in four Serbian sugar refineries with annual production of around 180,000 tons. It has bought a 51 percent stake in four refineries owned by Serbian refiner MK Komerc, it stated. No price was given. Nordzucker’s new Serbian subsidiary, Sunoko, is the new majority shareholder in the four sugar plants. The deal has been closed after approval was received from the Serbian authorities, Nordzucker said. (Reuters)