ECONOMY

In Brief

Sounion luxury hotel complex project cleared Babis Vovos, Greece’s biggest real estate developer, got the last of three approvals required for a luxury hotel complex near Athens after years of court challenges and delays. Vovos has received «the third and final building permit of the Sounion project,» the Athens-based company told the Greek stock exchange in a filing. «Construction will commence immediately and be completed within 15 months,» it said. Plans to develop Vovos’s 62,000 -square meter seaside site close to the ancient Greek sanctuary of Sounion, near Athens, have been delayed by court challenges over use of the land. Vovos originally planned to build more than 100 vacation homes on the plot. That plan was abandoned two years ago after the country’s highest court revoked the building permit. Vovos now plans to build three five-star hotel units with a gross leasable area of 12,000 square meters. (Bloomberg) Croatia attracts record number of tourists A record number of more than 10.4 million tourists visited Croatia in 2007, a country of 4.4 million inhabitants, the national tourist board said yesterday. It was a 6.0 percent gain on 2006. Last year the former Yugoslav republic had more than 56.3 million overnight stays, five million more compared with 2006. Most of the tourists were Germans, followed by Slovenians, Italians, Czechs, Austrians and Hungarians. The government foresees tourist arrivals increasing to the 11-million level by the end of the decade, with the sector’s contribution to economic growth rising to 29 percent. According to latest government estimations the country should earn a record 7.0 billion euros (10.3 billion dollars) from tourism in 2007 or 11 percent more compared with 2006. (Reuters) Bond trade The volume of Greek government debt traded on the central bank’s electronic system (HDAT) fell to 21.36 billion euros ($58.9 billion) in December from 40.35 billion in November, the Bank of Greece said yesterday. Attributing the drop to slower trading during the Christmas holiday period, the central bank said daily average turnover in December fell to 1.12 billion euros from 1.83 billion in the previous month. Greek government bond yields rose in December, particularly on the 5- and 10-year segment of the curve, in line with the performance seen in the rest of the eurozone. Greece’s yield curve flattened as the difference between the 30- and 3-year bond yields narrowed to 84 basis points from 91 in the previous month. (Reuters) RWE in Nabucco? Germany’s RWE might become the sixth partner in the Nabucco natural gas pipeline, which aims to transport Caspian basin gas to Central Europe, Turkish Energy Minister Hilmi Guler said yesterday. «We are considering having RWE as the sixth partner in Nabucco,» the minister told CNN Turk TV in an interview. Guler also said Iraq’s natural gas could be transported to European markets via Turkey. The 5 billion euro ($7.4 billion) Nabucco project – designed to pass via Turkey and the Balkans to Austria – has been delayed but is a key plank of the European Union’s plans to reduce its dependence on Russian gas imports. (Reuters)