ECONOMY

In Brief

Minister stays the course in dispute with dockers Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis stuck to his guns in Parliament yesterday regarding the government’s long dispute with Piraeus and Thessaloniki dockers, saying that some of them are lazy and many of them are overpaid, with their average yearly salary reaching 93,000 euros, and the top-paid employee receiving 150,000 euros per year. He even drew comparisons between their salary and that of Greek deputies and the US president. Kefaloyiannis insisted on the effort to find a private partner for the container stations in the two ports and disputed claims of major problems in the market, but conceded that only 40 containers were cleared each day instead of 110. The opposition accused him of mishandling of the issue, arguing that the government intends to sell out the Piraeus Port Authority. National Bank looking to buy two Ukrainian banks National Bank, Greece’s largest, said yesterday it is looking to buy two banks in Ukraine as part of its strategy to become a leading player in southeast Europe. National said in a stock market filing it had signed a confidentiality agreement with the two Ukrainian banks and submitted an expression of non-binding interest. It did not name the banks nor provide any further details. Last year National was the first Greek bank to venture into Turkey, buying Finansbank. It is also present in Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia and Albania. (Reuters) Highway concession Serbia has awarded a key highway concession worth 1.5 billion euros to Spanish building and services company FCC and its Austrian arm Alpine Mayreder Bau, the government said yesterday. The road linking the central Serbian town of Pozega to Horgos on the Hungarian border is part of a wider plan to build a highway that runs across Serbia, ending at the Montenegrin coast. Most of Serbia’s road network fell into disrepair in the 1990s, when the country was hit by sanctions for its role in the Yugoslav wars. (Reuters) Ojer Telekom Turkey’s Ojer Telekomunikasyon AS has mandated bookrunners ABN AMRO, BNP Paribas, Calyon, Citigroup and Fortis Bank to arrange a $4.3 billion syndicated loan, which is the borrower’s third deal, a banking source told Reuters Loan Pricing Corp yesterday. Ojer Telekomunikasyon is a special purpose vehicle set up by Saudi Oger Telecom and Telecom Italia to acquire a 55 percent stake in Turk Telekom from the government that it won in a tender in July 2005 with a $6.55 billion bid. (Reuters) FORTHnet shares The three main shareholders of Greek telecoms firm FORTHnet (Novator Equities, Cycladic Catalyst Master Fund, and Technology and Research Foundation) sold 8.1 million shares or 21 percent of the company through accelerated book-building at the price of 10.20 euros per share. The size of the placement was far higher than the minimum originally set by the sellers, due to increased demand from Greece and abroad.