In Brief

EU approves Greek pension reforms BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Commission yesterday announced it had approved the optional transfer of the supplementary pensions systems of certain Greek banks to Greece’s general social security regime. «The Commission’s investigation found that the conditions for transfer would not give any economic advantage to the banks concerned by the reform,» the EU executive said. The reform aims to provide legal certainty for bank employees and ensure, in particular, that pensions will be available and adequate, the Commission said. The reform sets up a new legal entity governed by public law called ETAT, which would benefit from the guarantee of the Greek state. Refinery strike threatens heating fuel supplies A planned strike by Hellenic Petroleum (HELPE) workers on Monday, when the lower winter heating fuel tariff comes into effect, is expected to cause extensive supply problems in the market, as the group’s three refineries supply more than 70 percent of the market. The workers want the immediate hiring of 250 new staff and have warned they will continue the strike if management insists on much lower salaries for them. Union officials also said the refineries were in urgent need of upgrading. Babis Vovos-Media Markt Listed real estate firm Babis Vovos and the international retailing chain Media Markt yesterday agreed to sign two new lease agreements, one for 10 years for 7,291 sq.m. of retail space and 1,772 sq.m. of storage space at the commercial center under construction at 340 Syngrou Avenue, and a second to extending an existing lease by Media Markt at 49 Kifissias Avenue. Cyprus trade deficit Cyprus’s trade deficit widened to 1.9 billion Cyprus pounds ($4.6 billion) in January to August from 1.7 billion Cyprus pounds in the same period a year ago, the statistics department said yesterday. Exports fell to 430.3 million Cyprus pounds from 439.8 million in the same 2006 period, while imports increased to 2.3 billion Cyprus pounds from 2.1 billion. (Reuters) More visitors in Athens Five-star hotel occupancy rates in Attica were up 11.5 percent in August, year-on-year, while two-star hotel rates rose 5.5 percent, according to the Attica Hotel Association. For the summer as a whole, there was a 6.4 percent rise in occupancy, against a decline for London, Rome and Amsterdam.