Viohalco, Greece’s largest metallurgy group and exporter, comprising about 80 companies, is making plans to expand in neighboring Balkan countries where it is already active as well as enter new markets such as Russia and the Middle East. The group considers it is well-placed to tap the potential of Bulgaria and Romania, which are expected to develop their infrastructure and internal markets after the scheduled entry into the European Union next year. Viohalco’s holdings posted a considerable improvement in turnover and profitability in the first half of 2006. However, it should be taken into consideration that the sharp year-on-year profit increases can be attributed to the steep decline in profit figures in the preceding term. Total turnover for Viohalco amounted to 581.25 million euros from 325 million euros in the first half of 2005, a 79.4 percent year-on-year rise. Elval, the group’s flagship, posted a net profit increase of 36.9 percent to 11.5 million euros in the first half. Sales rose by 25.3 percent to 428.4 million euros. Sidenor, another subsidiary, also posted improved net profit figures. The firm’s net profit rose an impressive 249 percent year-on-year, from 10.35 million euros in the first half of 2005 to 36.1 million euros. The subsidiary’s turnover figure rose by 32.46 percent, from 448.2 million euros to 594 million. Group subsidiary Corinth Pipe Works converted first-half losses incurred in the previous season to profits and improved turnover figures. The firm’s total revenues increased by 60.87 percent to 163 million euros in the first half this year from 101.29 million. Corinth Pipe Works posted a net profit figure of 6.54 million following losses valued at 4 million euros in last year’s first half. Etem, one of Viohalco’s smaller subsidiaries, is making plans for a 10-million-euro investment program. The completion of its new production line for Etalbond aluminium panels offers greater production capacity as well as improved quality, which Viohalco hopes will lead its subsidiary into new markets, including Russia and the Middle East. Elval reported that its plant in Oinofyta, north of Athens, is currently producing at full capacity. In 2005, production reached 192,000 tons, a slight rise against the previous year’s result.