ECONOMY

In Brief

National Bank of Greece offers to buy Ukrainian bank Greece’s largest lender National Bank has made a binding offer to buy a bank in Ukraine as part of its strategy to become a leading player in Southeastern Europe, it said in a bourse filing. «NBG has made a binding offer to buy a majority of the share capital of a Ukrainian bank,» the statement said. «NBG will inform the investor public as soon as there are final developments.» No further details were given. National Bank officials were not immediately available for comment. Earlier this month, National said it had signed a confidentiality agreement with two Ukrainian banks. Greek media has speculated that NBG may have entered talks with Ukrainian lenders Forum and Tas Bank. (Reuters) Greek economic sentiment improves in December Economic sentiment improved in December after a two-month dip as stronger consumer confidence lifted the index to 107.4 points, the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) said yesterday. The figure represented a rebound after the index fell to 106.0 in November from 107.9 the previous month. The index average in 2005 was just 89.8. The IOBE said a more upbeat outlook on unemployment and household finances was behind the improvement in December’s consumer confidence reading. Based on the data, economic activity in industry, services and retail trade was stable overall with the respective readings higher than in the same month in 2005, except in the construction sector. (Reuters) Athens water Greece’s largest water utility Athens Water Supply and Sewage (EYDAP) will ask the government to be allowed to raise its rates to offset higher costs, the company said last week. Athens Water, which has not increased prices in more than two years, wants a 3 percent rise for water services and 5 percent for sewage, it said in a statement. The proposed increases, if approved, will go into effect as of February 1, 2007, it said. The price rises are less than half the average inflation rate over the previous two years, it said. As a state controlled utility, Athens Water needs government approval for any price increases. (Reuters) F1 track A presidential decree signed yesterday paves the way for the creation of the first Formula One race track in Greece. The decree provides for eligible plots that would have a surface of at least 400,000 square meters; be located outside residential, forest, archaeological and other protected areas; offer easy access to all means of transport; and be no further than 100 kilometers from major hotels which have at least 1,000 beds.