In Brief

Government plans measures to stem losses in OSE and Olympic The Transport Ministry is planning measures, including voluntary retirement programs, for Hellenic Railways (OSE) and Olympic Airlines, designed to stem their rapidly mounting losses which run into the hundreds of millions of euros. In OSE’s case, these will include compulsory transfers of about 1,000 surplus personnel to other departments which have shortages, while an estimated 2,000 will be offered voluntary retirement. The utility has now frozen the previously planned hiring of 307 new staff. At Olympic, the number of those to retire will depend on the outcome of negotiations with the European Commission on the size of the company which will succeed the present heavily indebted carrier. Assuming the new company will be 80 percent of its predecessor, it is thought that about 100 of 485 pilots and 200 of 680 permanent and seasonal cabin staff will be retired. November credit growth picks up to 13.5 percent Greek total credit expansion accelerated to 13.5 percent in November from a 12.7 percent annual pace in October, Bank of Greece provisional data showed yesterday. Lending to households, including mortgages and consumer credit, was still expanding at a 22.9 annual pace in November compared to 23.8 percent in October. Robust household borrowing has been feeding bank profits in the last years. «Credit expansion continues to increase at a high rate in November, reflecting the acceleration in the business loans sector and the maintenance of the high rate of increase in housing and consumer loans. The increase rate of credit expansion in the private sector is seen above 20 percent for 2007, on an annual basis,» said National Bank economist Nikos Magginas. (Reuters) Strait reopens Turkey’s Bosporus Strait reopened to tankers longer than 200 meters (655 feet) yesterday, the coast guard said, after bad weather closed the strategic strait on Tuesday. The coast guard said on its website the Bosporus – one of the two Turkish straits which connect the oil-shipping ports on the Black Sea with the Mediterranean – was open to southbound traffic. The Dardanelles Strait was also open, the coast guard said. (Reuters) Retail sales Greece’s retail sales by volume rose 1.9 percent year-on-year in November, picking up from a 1.3 percent year-on-year increase in October, data by the National Statistics Service showed yesterday. Retail sales by revenues grew 5.2 percent year-on-year in November after a 4.2 percent rise in the previous month. (Reuters) Bourse to pause The Athens Stock Exchange will halt trade for five minutes today as a mark of respect for the passing of the head of the Greek Orthodox Church, Archbishop Christodoulos. The bourse said it has asked member brokers to abstain from trading between noon and 12.05 p.m. local time (1000-1005 GMT). (Reuters)