In Brief

OTE wins court appeal, regulatory fine is canceled OTE telecom, Greece’s biggest phone company, got court backing for stopping access to an alternative phone services provider for not paying its bills. The Athens Administrative Appellate Court decision means a 300,000-euro fine imposed by the country’s regulator on the phone company last year is annulled, OTE said in a statement yesterday. The decision also rules that OTE acted lawfully in cutting access to the unnamed provider, the statement said. OTE has said it will take legal action to overturn fines imposed by the National Telecommunications and Post Commission. On October 10, OTE said it would go to court to overturn a 3-million-euro fine imposed for partial compliance in allowing rivals access to its network. OTE has been fined 30 million euros this year. (Bloomberg) Bulgaria sees gas transit up 13.3 percent in 2007 SOFIA (Reuters) – Bulgaria’s Bulgargaz said it expects to transport 17.1 billion cubic meters (bcm) of Russian natural gas to Turkey, Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia this year, up 13.3 percent from 2006, a company official said yesterday. Angel Semerdzhiev, executive director of Bulgargas’s transit unit, Bulgartransgaz, Bulgaria, told an economic forum the transit of gas from Russian giant Gazprom to the Balkan countries would rise further to 17.5 bcm in 2008. Semerdzhiev said the company was working to expand and upgrade its network of 945 kilometers of transit pipelines to secure steady supplies. Bulgaria renewed its gas contract with Gazprom last year, under which the Russian firm agreed to guarantee transits of 17.8 bcm a year plus an option for another 5 bcm depending on the growth of gas consumption in the region. Marfin Popular Bank Marfin Popular Bank (MPB) said yesterday it was not eyeing Hungarian bank OTP or Austrian Erste Bank as acquisition targets. «Marfin Popular Bank denies press reports regarding interest in a buyout of OTP or Erste Bank,» MPB said in a filing to the Athens Exchange. Greek newspapers reported on Monday MPB’s parent Marfin Investment Group (MIG) was interested in acquiring the lenders. Last month, MPB agreed to buy a 43 percent stake in Maltese lender Lombard Bank Malta, while MIG completed the purchase of a 50.1 percent stake in Estonian SBM Bank. (Reuters) Sept c/a gap widens Greece’s current account deficit widened in September from a year earlier, mainly due to an increase in the trade deficit as well as the income account gap, the Bank of Greece said yesterday. The country’s current account gap widened by 487 million euros year-on-year in September to reach 1.71 billion euros. «The widening continued mainly due to the trade deficit, excluding fuel, which was partly offset by an increase in revenues from shipping,» said Nikos Magginas, National Bank economist. (Reuters) Cyprus tourist arrivals up Tourist arrivals to Cyprus rose 0.6 percent in January to October year-on-year, the statistics department said yesterday. In January to October, tourist arrivals reached 2,247,596 compared with 2,234,219 in the same period in 2006. (Reuters)