In Brief

Turkish Cypriots hope for trade move by mid-year BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Turkish-Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat said yesterday he hoped an EU regulation to end the economic isolation of northern Cyprus would be agreed upon by mid-year but accused Greek Cypriots of seeking to undermine the move. Talat said the Nicosia government, which represents the divided island in the European Union, was insisting all trade between the north and the rest of the EU go through Greek-Cypriot ports in southern Cyprus. «This is not direct trade,» he told a news briefing in Brussels, where he is due to meet with EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn today. «We want the (European) Commission to be realistic,» he said. «The regulation should be workable. If they say you will use the southern ports, it will not work.» Talat said the trade regulation should be adopted under an EU treaty article allowing for approval by a qualified majority of the 27 states, not by a unanimous vote that would allow it to be blocked by the Greek Cypriots. Diplomats said the EU council’s legal service had concluded in 2004 that unanimity was required. Greek ports presentation for investors this Friday The Institute of Port Development (IPD) is organizing a one-day event this Friday titled «Hellenic Ports 2007» in the conference room of the Piraeus Port Authority (OLP). The event’s aim is to highlight the comparative advantages of the country’s ports and the capacity to receive foreign investments for port development. «Hellenic Ports aims to approach all those involved with investing in ports and to show them the prospects of Greek ports. We want to highlight how economy can evolve around them,» the president of IPD, Nikos Samaras, told Kathimerini. He added that port growth should not come at the expense of the environment or the people living nearby. Louis profits Cyprus’s largest hotel and cruise operator Louis increased its profit attributable to shareholders by 56 percent in 2006 despite last year’s war in Lebanon, it was announced yesterday. Net profits rose to 12.5 million Cyprus pounds (21.7 million euros) in 2006 from 8 million (13.9 million euros) in 2005. Company turnover increased by 16 percent, reaching 182.1 million pounds (316.2 million euros). Louis attributed improved profits to better cruise and hotel operations in Greece, while forecasting a «significant» spike in net revenues for 2007, mainly assisted by the sale of the Nicosia Hilton. The group estimates the planned sale will leave a 9-million-pound clear profit. (AFP) Fourlis boost Fourlis, which owns the Greek franchise of Swedish home furnishing giant IKEA, said yesterday its net profit last year rose 51.5 percent, boosted by one-off capital gains and strong furniture sales. Fourlis, which also sells electrical appliances and sportswear, said it made a net profit of 27.4 million euros, up from 18.1 million euros in 2005. It is to propose a 0.18-euro-per-share dividend for 2006 vs 0.15 euros in 2005. (Reuters)