ECONOMY

In Brief

OPAP confident of keeping exclusivity Gambling operator OPAP said yesterday that EU law was in its favor over its stand to prevent British bookmakers from setting up shop in Greece. «Each EU member state has the sovereign right to award exclusivity to a company, or to accept more than one company,» OPAP Chairman Sotiris Kostakos wrote in an article in the Eleftheros Typos daily. In April, British bookmakers William Hill applied for permission to establish and operate a network of betting shops «on the basis of the free movement of services and freedom of establishment under EU law.» OPAP has had exclusivity over betting activity in Greece since 1996. «We have no real reason to fear competition, but society does,» Kostakos said. The Greek government has not yet responded to William Hill’s application. (AFP) Key player in overpriced bond affair consents to re-purchase North Asset Management, a largely Greek-owned, London-based brokerage that was one of the intermediaries in the sale of an overpriced structured bond to the Greece’s Public Servants’ Auxiliary Pension Fund in February that has sparked strong political controversy, yesterday consented to JP Morgan’s proposal last month to buy back the bond. «This is a goodwill gesture that reflects the firm’s desire to settle this affair in a friendly way, and with a positive outcome for all sides involved,» North Asset said in a statement. It added it was willing to return the profit from its part of the sale but stressed that this in no way implied acknowledgement of any wrongdoing. Piraeus Bank Piraeus Bank said yesterday it had signed an agreement to buy 78 percent of Ukrainian lender International Commerce Bank (ICB), as part of its plans to expand in the region. Piraeus will pay $58.56 million for the purchase, it said yesterday. ICB, founded in 1994, has a network of 134 outlets in 38 cities throughout Ukraine, employs 850 people and has more than 25,000 customers, it said. «The purchase of ICB further reinforces Piraeus Bank’s international operations, which now have a presence in eight countries,» Piraeus said in a statement. «The group’s assets abroad today are close to 5 billion euros.» The group’s network outside Greece should expand to 580 branches from 243 currently. (Reuters) Babis Vovos sale Listed construction firm Babis Vovos yesterday announced the sale of 12,224 square meters and 243 parking spaces, at the office complex under construction at 108-110 Athens Avenue to the German real estate investor «KanAm Grund» for 47.09 million euros. The building is part of a three-building office complex under construction on an 8,000 square meter land plot. Babis Vovos was awarded the development in September 2005, following an open bid by Hellenic Exchanges SA (HELEX). Intralot wins award Gaming software firm Intralot has received the «smart-idea of the year» 2007 award from the US Public Gaming Research Institute (PGRI) for its microLOT terminal.