ECONOMY

In Brief

Central bank brings pressure on staff fund to sell Emporiki shares The Bank of Greece yesterday threatened its staff union representatives with legal action if they failed to attend further meetings of the union’s fund, called to decide whether to sell shares of Emporiki Bank in response to an offer by Credit Agricole (CA). The bank argued that failure to sell 734,000 shares at the unit offer price of 25 euros would result in a loss of 20 million euros for the fund, and warned of «legal consequences.» The union representatives rejected the call, saying if the governor of the central bank, Nicholas Garganas, was concerned about financial losses he should have approved their own recommendation for the sale of the shares back in February, when the price was around 29 euros. They suggested that the pressure to sell the shares now was initiated by the government, which is anxious that CA acquires control of Emporiki. Several other pension funds and public agencies owning Emporiki shares yesterday joined the chorus of sellers, bringing the total to well above CA’s target of 40 percent. July inflation rate rises to 3.8 percent year-on-year Consumer inflation jumped to 3.8 percent year-on-year in July from 3.2 percent in June, the National Statistics Service (NSS) said yesterday. The EU-harmonized inflation rate accelerated to 3.9 percent year-on-year from 3.4 percent, NSS said. NSS Secretary-General Manolis Kontopyrakis forecast headline inflation would ease to 3.6 percent in August and average 3.4 percent for the year, above the government’s 3.2 percent target. «Gasoline and fresh fruits were behind the rise in inflation. With oil prices at current levels, I expect inflation for 2006 will be 3.4 percent,» said Kontopyrakis. (Reuters) Bank of Cyprus Bank of Cyprus completed a placement of up to 12 million shares in accelerated book-building yesterday at a placement price of 4.05 Cyprus pounds (7.05 euros) each, the bank said. «The transaction is expected to reduce commensurately Bank of Cyprus’s non-performing loans,» the bank said. The bank had acquired the shares from clients and represented collateral against old non-performing loans. (Reuters) Bulgaria highway deal Bulgaria will start talks with a Portuguese-led consortium soon to renegotiate a 715-million-euro ($914.8 million) highway concession, the Construction Ministry said yesterday. Construction Minister Asen Gagauzov said the talks aimed to improve the terms of the deal. Prosecutors had halted the concession, signed by the previous government in 2004, after media and global anti-graft watchdog Transparency International said the granting of the concession without bidding was opaque. Under the deal, the consortium is to build and maintain 443 kilometers of highway from Bulgaria’s capital to the Black Sea coast. (Reuters) Tsakos Tsakos Energy Navigation (TEN) yesterday reported a net income of $33.03 million in the second quarter of 2006, versus $ 41.90 million in the same period last year. Basic earnings per share were $1.73 versus $2.09 in the 2005 quarter, which was enhanced by capital gains of $0.98 per share.