In Brief

Garganas denies comments on euro, rate hikes European Central Bank Governing Council member and Bank of Greece Governor Nicholas Garganas yesterday denied making comments on the euro and future ECB interest rate increases, as reported by a Greek newspaper. «The governor of the Bank of Greece, Nicholas Garganas, has categorically stated that he never said that the strengthening of the euro makes the prospect of rate hikes more distant,» Greece’s central bank said in a statement. The Greek newspaper To Vima on Sunday quoted Garganas as saying a strong euro may temper the need for interest rates increases. «To the degree that the strengthening of the single currency helps ease inflationary pressures, the reasons for a new interest rate increase become more distant,» the paper quoted Garganas as saying. To Vima stood by its story yesterday, insisting that the central banker had indeed made the comments as reported. «He said exactly what we wrote,» the paper’s economic editor, Zois Tsolis, told Reuters. (Reuters) Coca-Cola HBC buys Italian vending operator Greek Coke bottler Coca-Cola HBC (CCHBC) said yesterday it agreed to acquire Italian vending operator Eurmatik for 15.8 million euros. CCHBC, the world’s second-largest bottler of Coke products, said Eurmatik was currently active in all segments of the vending business, including hot and cold beverages, water and snacks. «This transaction is consistent with our strategy of selectively exploring new channels in order to extend our product reach and diversification, particularly in the high-value immediate consumption channel,» CCHBC Managing Director Doros Constantinou said in a statement. CCHBC, which is 24 percent-owned by the Coca-Cola Co, said the acquisition was not expected to affect the group’s profitability much in the short term. The transaction is subject to regulatory approval. CCHBC has bought two vending operators in Ireland and Hungary over the last two years. (Reuters) OTE buyback? Listed telecom company OTE may buy more of its own shares from the state as the government struggles to find a strategic partner for the country’s largest phone operator, a Greek website said yesterday. Greece may sell a 10 percent stake in OTE, which is the focus of its 2007 privatization plans, back to the company if no buyer is found for the stake, financial website reported. Greece owns about 39 percent of OTE and is seeking to sell up to a 20 percent stake to a strategic investor but has said it wants to keep management control of the company, a move which has damped investor interest. The government has said it prefers a European strategic partner that will also participate in the company’s management. Telekom Austria, which was the sole party to express any interest in the Greek group, last week withdrew its offer. Greece has picked Credit Suisse, UBS and EFG Eurobank as advisers on the planned sale. Merrill Lynch is advising OTE. (Reuters)

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