ECONOMY

In Brief

Greek search for OTE partner ‘not encouraging’ Greece’s search for a strategic partner for its main telecoms company OTE has not been encouraging, the country’s finance minister said yesterday. Greece, which owns about 39 percent of OTE, has said it wants to sell up to a 20 percent stake in the former phone monopoly as part of its planned sales of state assets this year, but has not found a partner yet. «Indications we have so far on a strategic investor for OTE are not very encouraging. We have not given up,» Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis told reporters. Alogoskoufis said: «Press reports that the government is planning to sell a 10-15 percent stake in OTE are not widely off the mark. We shall move by the end of June.» On Tuesday, the minister said the government was leaning toward a private placement of OTE shares instead of selling a stake to a strategic investor. (Reuters) EFG Eurobank’s Q1 profit up 30 pct EFG Eurobank, Greece’s third-largest lender, said yesterday first-quarter net profits rose 30 percent, above market expectations, on expanding retail credit at home and in Southeast Europe. The group, also present in Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Poland and Turkey, said net earnings rose to 204 million euros. Group profits from international operations, excluding Poland, Turkey and Ukraine, grew 138 percent to 16.2 million euros. The group, with a total network of 1,300 branches and points of sale, reported strong business growth in the first three months and said it was well on track to meet its 2007-09 financial targets. Eurobank said said its loan portfolio expanded by 21 percent at home and by 94 percent in Southeast Europe on brisk credit demand. (Reuters) Inflation Greek inflation in April nudged down to 2.5 percent, year-on-year, from 2.6 percent in March, mainly due to lower fuel prices rises than a year earlier. The EU-harmonized inflation index fell to 2.6 percent from 2.8 percent. Core inflation, which does not take account of price rises in fuels and fresh vegetables, was likewise down to 2.5 percent from 2.6 percent. Diana Shipping JP Morgan Securities said it began coverage of Greece’s Diana Shipping Inc with an «overweight» rating as it believed the company is well positioned to pay sustainable and increasing dividends to investors. The brokerage said this would be possible due to the company’s extensive fleet time-charter coverage, favorable dry-bulk shipping industry fundamentals over at least the next two years and management’s commitment to growth. (Reuters) HELPE net drops Greece’s largest oil refiner Hellenic Petroleum said yesterday first-quarter net profits fell 25 percent, in line with market expectations, as a warm winter slowed sales. Net profits dropped to 55 million euros, compared to analysts’ average forecast of 48 million euros in a recent Reuters poll. Sales rose 8 percent to 1.9 billion euros. (Reuters)