ECONOMY

In Brief

Sea Star buys Minoan, Hellenic Seaways stakes for 250 million Sea Star Capital Plc, a Cyprus-based holding company, paid about 250 million euros on Tuesday for stakes in two Greek ferry operators, a move that may signal consolidation in the country’s coastal shipping industry. Sea Star, majority-owned by Yiannis Vardinoyiannis, CEO of ANEK Lines, paid -92.4 million for 26 percent of Minoan Lines, Greece’s second-biggest ferry operator. Sea Star also acquired a 35 percent stake in closely held Hellenic Seaways for -154.9 million from Amadeus Navigation, controlled by shipowner Panayiotis Laskaridis. Sea Star is already the biggest stakeholder in ANEK, the fourth-biggest operator, with 15 percent. «Potential cooperation or merger between the three companies will create the biggest Greek ferry operator,» Piraeus Securities said in a note to investors. (Bloomberg, Kathimerini) Cyprus port staff stage walkout, shipping affected NICOSIA (Reuters) -Port workers in Cyprus called a daylong strike yesterday, disrupting shipping to the island in a collective bargaining dispute with the Finance Ministry. Staff at the Cyprus Ports Authority (CPA) staged the 24-hour walkout after the Finance Ministry removed staff promotions from the Authority’s budget. The promotions had been separately agreed with the CPA’s administration, staff said. «The employer with whom we negotiated and agreed was the CPA, not the Finance Ministry,» Pantelis Stavrou of the SEK union told Reuters. The CPA said it had taken measures to limit the impact on shipping, and had made arrangements to service ships before the strike started. «The actual cost is that we could lose our credibility as a port industry as we are trying to become an East Mediterranean hub,» said CPA Chairman Chrysis Prenzas. Proton Greece’s Proton Bank said its shareholders are in talks with Bank Hapoalim Ltd, Israel’s second-biggest lender by assets, about a possible cooperation, including Hapaolim acquiring a stake in the company. The talks between the companies’ shareholders relate to a possible participation by Hapoalim in Proton’s share capital as well as a possible strategic cooperation between the two, Athens-based Proton said today in a bourse filing. (Bloomberg) THY Turkish Airlines passenger numbers rose by 16.3 percent year-on-year to 18 million in the January-November period, THY said in a statement to the Istanbul Stock Exchange. The firm posted a net profit of 194.19 million lira ($165.62 million) in the first nine months of 2007, up 52.4 percent from the same period last year. (Reuters) Oyak sale Turkey’s banking regulator BDDK has approved the sale of midsized lender Oyak Bank to Dutch financial services group ING, Turkish economy officials said yesterday. The BDDK’s approval is the last regulatory hurdle as Turkey’s Competition Board has already approved the $2.7 billion deal. ING announced in June it was buying Oyak Bank as part of a plan to expand in emerging markets. (Reuters)