ECONOMY

In Brief

Declining oil prices dent refiners’ Q3 results Greece’s largest oil refiner, Hellenic Petroleum said yesterday that nine-month net profit fell 17 percent to 215 million euros, broadly in line with market expectations, as refining margins narrowed. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) dropped 17 percent to 432 million euros, while sales grew 31.5 percent to 6.12 billion. «Developments in the international refining market were negative as world refining margins remain at lower levels compared to last year,» Chief Executive Panos Cavoulacos said. A decline in oil prices in the third quarter, coupled with increased global supply and falling demand for refined products partly due to improved weather conditions, squeezed refiner’s profit margins. Motor Oil, Greece’s second-largest oil refiner, said third-quarter net profit fell 15.5 percent but nine-month net income was up 33.4 percent to 137.2 million euros. EBITDA advanced 43.6 percent to 248.5 million euros as sales gained 37.8 percent to 3.07 billion euros. (Reuters) Finance Ministry extends probing period for tax books The Finance Ministry intends to extend by two years the deadline for tax officials to probe the books of firms and the self-employed for the fiscal year 2000, and by one year the deadline for 2001. According to standing provisions which will be amended, the respective deadlines were to expire at the end of this year and 2007 respectively. The move is thought to be designed with the aim of replenishing state coffers and preventing tax officials from being held responsible for not investigating big tax evasion cases. Bulgaria golf course Bulgarian construction firm Balkanstroy will invest 240 million levs ($156.8 million) over the next three years to build a golf and ski complex in the Balkan country, the Investment Agency said yesterday. The company plans to build new ski tracks with lifts, spa hotels and a golf course at the foot of Pirin Mountain, in southwestern Bulgaria. Balkanstroy will secure the financing through its own funds, the agency said. Investors are rushing to join in a boom for real estate deals in Bulgaria, mainly building holiday resorts at its Black Sea coast and mountains, betting on an expected rise in tourists as the country becomes an EU member next January. Sofia sees foreign direct investment, mainly in real estate, at a record 3.0 billion euros ($3.8 billion) this year. (Reuters) Piraeus Bank Piraeus Bank, Greece’s fourth-largest lender, said yesterday nine-month net profit grew 151 percent to 342.1 million euros ($436 million), above forecasts, boosted by strong loan growth and one-off capital gains. The group, also present in Bulgaria, Romania, Egypt, Albania and Serbia, said net interest income rose 26 percent year-on-year to 500.5 million euros. (Reuters)