In Brief

Credit Agricole needs no pause for breath after race for Emporiki Economy Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis is meeting officials of France’s Credit Agricole (CA) this evening to persuade them to improve their offer for the acquisition of Emporiki Bank. No new bidders emerged before the expiry of the deadline yesterday, after the Bank of Cyprus withdrew its bid earlier this month. The CA bid is 23.50 euros per share. Yesterday Emporiki was 0.48 percent lower at 24.80 euros. Although CA is now under no pressure to improve its offer, failure to do so is seen as likely to dissuade investors from selling their shares. For the public offer to be successful, CA, which already owns 9 percent of Emporiki, has to gather at least 40 percent of the floating shares. Gov’t calls for rational fuel pricing, more extensive inspections Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas called on fuel distribution companies and gasoline stations to rein in high prices in the country’s tourist areas. He also asked the monitoring departments of prefectures to intensify inspections and citizens to choose their gasoline stations carefully. «What citizens will not tolerate is the extreme prices observed in some gas stations, particularly in 12 prefectures, mainly touristic ones,» Sioufas warned, adding that «the big weapon to reward those who maintain low prices and to punish those who lean toward extreme prices lies in the hands of citizens.» Exports hit The war in the Middle East is dealing a blow to Greek exports to the region at a time when they were expanding significantly. The Panhellenic Exporters’ Association (PSE) says that in the year’s first four months exports to Lebanon rose annually by 356 percent and to Syria and Israel by 68 and 57 percent respectively. However, the uncertainty in realizing orders and the postponement of new ones worries exporters, as exports in Israel, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan totaled 360 million euros last year. Insurance shutdown The Development Ministry ordered the shutdown yesterday of insurance companies Galaxias and Argonaftiki after they ignored a Private Insurance Commission ruling for a capital injection to improve their solvency. Customers from the two companies will be covered by a secondary insurance fund for a period of one month. The insurance commission also said that it will review the finances of Interhellas, Oikonomiki and Egnatia after evidence emerged that the companies may not be in a position to cover customer claims. Connection upgrade Forthnet is proceeding to the third upgrade of its international capacity this year, offering its users ADSL Internet access at over 3 gigabytes per second. The company also upgraded its interconnection with the Athens Internet Exchange (AIX) for exchanging Web traffic at 310 megabytes per second. Next month its connection with OTE’s ADSL network will also be upgraded to 3 Gbps.