ECONOMY

In Brief

Burgas-Alexandroupolis projects set for signature by year-end MOSCOW (AFP) – Russia said yesterday that an agreement on a pipeline project to transport Russian oil to Greece would be reached by the end of the year. Russian, Greek and Bulgarian officials have been working on a plan to transport Russian oil by sea to the Bulgarian port of Burgas, where it would be put in a pipeline running to Alexandroupolis in Greece. «We assume that before the end of the year an agreement will be signed by the parties,» said a spokesperson for the Russian Industry and Energy Ministry. The agreement for the pipeline, which will transport oil extracted from the Caspian Sea region, requires the signatures of the Russian, Bulgarian and Greek authorities. «The project is completely ready,» Greek development official Nikos Stefanou said yesterday in Moscow. Russian President Vladimir Putin is to visit Athens with Bulgarian Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev on Monday for talks about energy, presenting an opportunity for a final agreement on the project. Heracles cements net profit growth in year’s first half Cement producer Heracles, majority-owned by France’s Lafarge, said yesterday first-half net profit grew by 38.2 percent on robust domestic business. Heracles said net profit rose to 26.2 million euros from 18.9 million last year. The company said the domestic sales increased their share of total turnover and higher export prices more than offset a rise in fuel and raw material costs. First-half sales rose 14.8 percent to 329.5 million euros, with earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) up 25.5 percent to 63.9 million euros. Earlier this month, rival Titan beat market expectations with a 53 percent rise in H1 net profit, thanks to strong growth in its foreign operations and robust demand at home. (Reuters) Hyatt Regency Hotel and casino operator Hyatt Regency reported a 30.4 percent drop in first-half group net profit yesterday, hurt by a non-recurring gain in the same period last year. Hyatt, majority-owned by private equity fund BC Partners, said net profit fell to 32.7 million euros from 46.9 million euros a year earlier. ATEbank ATEbank said yesterday first-half net profit rose 16.7 percent to 82.1 million euros thanks to lower loan-loss provisions and strong growth in retail lending. Net interest income rose 4.4 percent to 280.6 million euros, with net interest margin at 3.15 percent. (Reuters) Geniki loss Geniki Bank, majority-owned by France’s Societe Generale, reported yesterday a 25.7-million-euro loss in the first half, on higher loan-loss provisions. The bank said total provisions reached 37.8 million euros in H1 as it adopted stricter credit risk assessment criteria on retail loans. (Reuters) HELPE Hellenic Petroleum, Greece’s largest refiner, beat forecasts yesterday with a 24 percent rise in first-half net profit. Net profit was 175 million euros, compared with a median forecast of 163.1 million euros from six analysts polled by Reuters. (Reuters)