In Brief

Weak consumer outlook hurts Greek economic sentiment Greek economic sentiment deteriorated in January, weighed down by a sharp downturn in consumer confidence, the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) said yesterday. The overall economic climate index fell to 100.6 points from 104.3 in December, its fourth monthly drop in a row. The reading fell below the benchmark for the 27-nation European Union and also the eurozone index, which came out at 101.7. «The main reason for the weak reading is the marked drop in consumer confidence,» IOBE said. By contrast, the business outlook was steady in services and retail trade. In industry expectations of order volumes were more contained and in construction projections remain unfavorable. (Reuters) Aegean Airlines to launch summer service to London Aegean Airlines said yesterday it will launch flights to London this summer, expanding its destinations abroad with new Airbus A321 jets. Flights to London’s Stansted, twice daily, will start on May 15, the carrier said. Aegean will also launch a service to Tirana, Albania’s capital, from May 2. Its domestic network will expand with new flights to the islands of Lemnos and Cephalonia. Aegean expects to take delivery of 10 Airbus A320/321 aircraft as part of its investment program, which targets a fleet renewal with 25 new aircraft by 2010. The Airbus jets will replace 15 Boeing 737 planes. Aegean’s passenger traffic last year grew 18 percent, to 5.23 million passengers. (Reuters) Vivartia eyes Everest Greece’s largest food group, Vivartia, is in preliminary talks with Everest to buy a stake in the fast-food chain, Vivartia said yesterday. Everest, with a current market value of 85.5 million euros, runs a network of 184 fast-food stores in Greece, Cyprus and Romania. Vivartia, which owns fast-food chain Goody’s, plans to invest 800 million euros ($1.17 billion) to expand activities in Southeastern Europe by 2012. It is 84.6 percent-owned by Marfin Investment Group. (Reuters) Turkey tax exemption A Turkish government official yesterday defended the practice of exempting foreigners from a withholding tax on interest income paid by Turkish investors. Turkey’s Federation of Consumer Associations (TUDEF) has challenged the exemption before a tax court, which decided it was anti-constitutional and against commercial law. It then passed the matter to the Constitutional Court for a final ruling. «The existing practice is in line with tax techniques, tax laws and conventions. This practice is continuing as it did yesterday. Nobody should be concerned,» Finance Ministry Undersecretary Hasan Basri Aktan told Reuters. (Reuters) IMF on Serbia Serbia’s economy is expected to grow by 6 percent this year due in part to a tight fiscal policy, according to a report from the International Monetary Fund. The report from the IMF executive board noted «robust growth with moderate inflation in 2007» but warned about the dangers of higher wages, credit growth and expanding fiscal policies. «Imbalances have increased, the current account deficit has widened, private external debt has rapidly accumulated, and vulnerabilities have risen,» the report states. (Reuters)