ECONOMY

In Brief

CA bids for remaining shares in Phoenix Metrolife French banking group Credit Agricole yesterday launched an offer for all the shares in Greek insurer Phoenix Metrolife which it doesn’t already own, offering 2.18 euros a share. Phoenix Metrolife is a subsidiary of Emporiki Bank, which was taken over by Credit Agricole last month. Agricole indirectly controls 89.84 percent of Phoenix and is seeking the remaining 10.16 percent, or 9.3 million shares. Credit Agricole, which is being advised by Morgan Stanley on the offer, said it has filed the relevant prospectus with Greece’s securities regulator and is awaiting approval before the offer timetable is announced. France’s largest retail bank said that if by the expiration of the offer it has secured a minimum 90 percent of voting shares in Phoenix Metrolife, it will then request the delisting of the insurer. Credit Agricole now owns 72 percent of Emporiki Bank after a successful offer at 25 euros a share, which valued Greece’s fifth-largest lender at 3.3 billion euros. Phoenix Metrolife shares ended 0.49 percent lower at 2.03 euros yesterday. The insurer has a current market value of 186.9 million euros. (Reuters) Cosmote interested in Romania 3G license BUCHAREST (Reuters) – Romania got four bids from telecom firms interested in acquiring a 3G license in the Black Sea state’s mobile telephony market, the telecoms inspectorate (IGCTI) announced yesterday. The IGCTI, which is selling two 3G licenses, said Cosmote Romania, Telemobil SA, Societatea Nationala de Radiocomunicatii and RCS&RDS SA have submitted offers. Earlier yesterday, Cosmote Romania, a subsidiary of Greek mobile phone operator Cosmote, said it submitted an offer for a 3G licence to the Romanian telecoms regulator. Cosmote said IGCTI has set the cost of the license at about $35 million. Successful bidders will be announced by October 15. «I think Cosmote Romania will make great efforts to acquire one of the two licenses considering its aggressive strategy,» said Artion Securities analyst Elias Lazaris. «A 3G license is in line with the company’s efforts to provide added value to customers and increase market share.» Cosmote, 67 percent-owned by OTE Telecom, relaunched Cosmote Romania in December 2005. Buyout Anglo-Dutch consumer products group Unilever said yesterday it plans to buy out Elais-Unilever, valuing the Greek food company at 331.4 million euros. The world’s third-biggest consumer goods group is offering 24.50 euros per share to buy out Elais-Unilever, in which it holds a 67 percent stake. Elais shares jumped 18.9 percent to the offer price of 24.50 euros. «The intended acquisition of the outstanding shares of Elais-Unilever and the planned subsequent delisting from the Athens Stock Exchange is in line with the ‘One Unilever’ strategy,» Unilever said in a statement. The acquisition came less than a week after Unilever agreed to sell the bulk of its underperforming frozen foods business for 1.725 billion euros, with analysts urging the firm to return the cash to shareholders rather than go on a buying spree. (Reuters)