In Brief

Government desperate for a deal on CSF funds Government data showed that, by early September, less than half of the 34.2 billion euros earmarked in EU aid from the Third Community Support Framework (CSFIII) program had been absorbed. By September 5, Greece had absorbed 16.5 billion euros, leaving some 17.7 billion to be absorbed by the end of 2008, two years after CSFIII formally expires. Greece’s absorption performance this year has been dismal, with only 1.99 billion euros being absorbed by early September, out of 5.7 billion the government had set as its target for the year. Part of the reason for the failure is the state’s inability to fund its share of the infrastructure programs for which CSFIII funds are allocated. According to EU regulations, EU funds contribute toward 65 percent of the cost of projects, with the remaining 35 percent coming from the state and private sectors. Greece’s obligation to trim its deficits has reduced its ability to come up with its share of funds. Government officials are seeking to increase the percentage of EU contributions, hoping to get an additional 1.8 to 2.3 billion euros in aid. EU Commission agrees to scrap shipping’s anti-cartel exemption BRUSSELS (Reuters) – European Union governments agreed yesterday to scrap an exemption from anti-cartel rules for shipping on routes to and from the EU, in a move to make the industry more competitive, the European Commission said. Freight shipping has been organized in the form of cartels, called liner conferences, since the 1870s. The repeal will enter into effect in October 2008, the Commission said. The current block exemption allows carriers to fix prices and regulate capacity jointly. «The EU economy as a whole stands to benefit from lower transport prices and more competitive exports,» EU Internal Market Commissioner Charlie McCreevy said. Shares tender Anglo-Dutch consumer products group Unilever’s tender for the remaining shares of Greek food company Elais, which it doesn’t own, will run from tomorrow to October 25, Elais said in a stock-market filing yesterday. Unilever, the world’s third-biggest consumer goods group is offering 24.50 euros per share to buy out Elais, in which it holds a 67 percent stake. Its offer values the Greek company at 331.4 million euros ($422.7 million). Stock-market authorities approved the tender’s prospectus last week. If Unilever obtains at least 90 percent of voting shares in Elais it can exercise its right to the remaining outstanding shares, and the delisting of the Greek subsidiary from the Athens bourse. (Reuters) New manager HSBC Bank, a wholly owned subsidiary of HSBC Holdings, announced yesterday it had appointed Matthew Bosrock as the new chief executive and country manager for its operations in Greece. Bosrock, 39, has worked for HSBC since 1991 and held a number of international postings, including in Hong Kong and Johannesburg. Since 2005, he has co-managed HSBC’s 13 corporate banking centers in the UK. HSBC established its first branch in Greece in 1981, expanding further in 2001 when it acquired the Greek operations of Barclays Bank. It currently operates a network of 22 branches in and around Athens, employing 600. (Reuters)