ECONOMY

In Brief

Foreign investors eye OTE stake, says official Greece has received interest from foreign investors in the sale of a stake in the country’s dominant telecoms company OTE and will hold further talks with them, a senior Finance Ministry official said yesterday. Greece, which wants to sell up to 20 percent of its 38 percent stake in OTE by July, is sounding out European telecom peers. «The process is going well, we are satisfied; interest exists,» the official said. «We will now go on to the second phase with those that have expressed initial interest… to such things as how much they are interested in buying.» Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis and Communications Minister Michalis Liapis met with advisers yesterday to discuss progress on the sale. «We asked (the advisers) to speed up efforts in their search for a strategic partner that will take part in management… and to give us some proposals by the end of February,» Liapis told reporters after the meeting. Bankers have indicated that European telecoms companies such as Deutsche Telekom, Telekom Austria, Vodafone and Telefonica have expressed interest in the OTE stake. (Reuters) Turkish central bank to retain cautious monetary policy BURSA (Reuters) – The Turkish central bank is retaining its cautious stance on fiscal policy and believes its tight monetary policy will continue to influence private consumption decisions, the head of the bank said on yesterday. Durmus Yilmaz told a conference in Bursa, western Turkey, that volatile food prices were a source of uncertainty for future inflation. The central bank targets 4 percent inflation in 2007. «Starting from the second half of 2007, we predict higher annual growth rates,» said Yilmaz. Turkey targets 5 percent growth in 2007. The central bank expects to see a low growth rate in the final quarter of 2006 due to the impact of the high base level for comparisons; Turkey’s economy has grown by an average of nearly 8 percent in each of the last four years. Yilmaz was speaking the day after the central bank released an external survey putting the 2007 year-end gross national product growth rate at 4.7 percent. Turkey investing Turkey’s government has decided to abolish a requirement for foreign funds investing in Turkey to obtain permission to reside in the country, Finance Minister Kemal Unakitan said. «The relevant decree will be published within a few days,» Unakitan told Reuters. The requirement will be abolished only for foreign funds investing in Turkey but not foreign individual investors, a senior official said. HELPE shutdown Greece’s largest oil refiner Hellenic Petroleum plans a full turnaround of its 100,000-barrels-per-day (bpd) refinery in Elefsina for one month in March 2008, a plant official said yesterday. «We are planning a routine turnaround of all of our facilities which should last about a month,» the official said. Apart from some minor units, all the facilities will be taken offline during the maintenance. (Reuters)