In Brief

BoC dubs Marfin’s cooperation proposal as ‘inconceivable’ NICOSIA (Reuters) – Bank of Cyprus yesterday dismissed an offer by Marfin Popular (MPB) to merge their overseas operations as «inconceivable.» The Cypriot lender, the island’s largest bank, on Tuesday rejected an offer from Marfin to cooperate on an international level, triggering a war of words between the two. Marfin said BoC rejected its offer without even looking at it. It owns about 9 percent in the Cypriot concern, carrying considerable weight which is likely to be manifested at BoC’s shareholders’ meeting in June. «We find the proposal to merge our international operations and remain competitors in the Cyprus market inconceivable,» Charilaos Stavrakis, deputy group chief executive officer, told Reuters. Telekom Austria up as CEO says no to OTE Shares in Telekom Austria rose to seven-week highs yesterday after CEO Boris Nemsic said on Wednesday he was no longer interested in a stake in Greek operator OTE because this would not provide management control. «We have been closely monitoring the developments around the planned privatization of OTE. It is clear for us that we need to be in a position to leverage our strengths and be able to share our expertise as a telco operator in Southeastern Europe,» Nemsic said in a statement. At present it appears that the Greek operator is intending to sell only a minority stake without any management control. «Under these circumstances we are no longer interested in pursuing this target as a minority stake would not allow us to generate shareholder value,» he said. The Greek government has said it wants to sell up to a 20 percent stake of OTE as part of state-asset sale plans this year. (Reuters) Heracles stake sold The National Bank of Greece agreed yesterday with Lafarge to sell it its 26 percent stake in listed cement company AGET Heracles for 17.4 euros per share, for a total of 321.6 million euros. This will raise Lafarge’s stake in Heracles from 52.7 percent to 78.7 percent. Korres profits up Cosmetics retailer Korres, which began trading on the Athens bourse last week, posted 2006 net profit yesterday that more than doubled from a year earlier as sales increased. Net income advanced to 2.84 million euros from 1.13 million euros a year earlier, as sales rose to 26.9 million euros from 17.1 million euros in 2005, a financial statement published by the company showed. The company will also propose a dividend of 0.20 euros a share on 2006 earnings. Korres raised 11.5 million euros from its initial public offering which was oversubscribed by 27.3 times. (Reuters) SocGen in Albania French bank Societe Generale, has bought a 75 percent stake in Albania’s Banka Popullore for an undisclosed amount, further boosting SocGen’s position in the fast-growing Southern European markets. It already owns Greece’s Geniki Bank. SocGen said in a statement yesterday that Banka Popullore had assets of 230 million euros as of the end of 2006 and a 5 percent share of the Albanian market. (Reuters)

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