In Brief

Jobless benefit to increase 18 percent The basic Greek unemployment benefit will increase 18 percent to 367.50 euros per month, Economy and Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis announced yesterday. The benefit, currently at 311.25 euros, will be further increased to 404 euros, Alogoskoufis said. The increase was announced after conservative Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis promised income hikes for the jobless and pensioners during a weekend speech on the state of the nation’s economy. (AP) OPAP to extend Kino betting hours Gaming monopoly OPAP announced yesterday it will extend playing hours for its Kino lottery game later this month, in a bid to increase revenues from its second-largest game by sales. OPAP, one of Europe’s biggest betting companies, said it will increase Kino hours by 18 hours a week, beginning September 22. «Playing hours for Kino will change to 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. local time from Monday to Friday and continuously from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday,» OPAP said. Currently, people can play Kino from 11.30 a.m. until 2.30 p.m. and from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. throughout the week. «The decision is expected to boost OPAP’s revenues and profits from Kino and more than offset the proposed increase in the agents’ commission,» said analyst Costas Zouzoulas at Marfin Analysis. OPAP offers the Kino lottery at its 5,540 outlets in Greece and Cyprus and plans to launch the game on Greek ships, targeting thousands of tourists. Its revenues from the game were flat at 862 million euros in the first half of 2006. In August, OPAP said it would ask the government to approve a rise in Kino agents’ commission to 7.5 percent from 7 percent until December and to 8 percent next year. OPAP trades at 16.7 times 2006 estimated earnings, a discount to the 30.8 times earnings multiple for the DJ Stoxx European casino and gaming sector «SXTP,» according to Reuters Estimates. Analysts attribute the discount to concerns about OPAP taking its flagship Stoichima game’s operation in-house next year and delays in an IT tender. (Reuters) New acquisition Diana Shipping Inc announced yesterday it had agreed to purchase a capesize dry-bulk carrier from an unaffiliated third party for $91 million. The new carrier of about 175,000 deadweight tonnage, currently under construction by Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding Co Ltd, is expected to be delivered in or around December, the Greek dry-bulk carrier operator said. Upon delivery of this vessel, the company’s fleet will consist of 13 panamax dry-bulk carriers and two capesize dry-bulk carriers, its statement added. (Reuters)