Intracom buys into Siemens Teleindustrie Telecoms equipment-maker Intracom has acquired a 41-percent stake in Thessaloniki-based Siemens Teleindustrie by buying shares of 29 and 12 percent from Germany’s Siemens and the National Bank of Greece (NBG) respectively, according to a joint statement yesterday. Siemens will now hold 41 percent and NBG 18 percent. Siemens’ Information and Communication Network said the sale was aimed at offering expanded services in SE Europe and the Mediterranean. The agreement, which provides for no changes in personnel or product lines, is subject to approval by the European Commission, said the statement. Minister pledges to upgrade main ports Merchant Marine Minister Giorgos Anomeritis said yesterday the government will soon start upgrading the country’s main ports, after recently approving more than 23 million euros for the project. He was responding to calls for improvements by coastal shipowners at the presentation of Strintzis Lines’ new vessel Blue Star Paros, which will ply the routes from Piraeus to Paros, Naxos and Santorini, and to Syros and Ios. The new ship, constructed by Korea’s Daewoo Shipbuilding, can carry 1,500 passengers and 240 private cars at a speed of around 21 knots per hour, and its four engines produce markedly low quantities of nitrogen oxides. It is to be followed by sister ship Blue Star Naxos which will be deployed on the same routes in June. ATE Q1 profits up The Agricultural Bank (ATE) yesterday reported 19-percent growth in pretax profits to 57.6 million euros in the first quarter, compared to the same period in 2001. Operating profits were up 15.15 percent, net income from interest jumped 35.28 percent, while group profits rose 57.7 percent. ATE said the improvement was due to rationalization and it expects 22-percent profit growth this year. Petrola The Latsis group’s oil company Petrola yesterday reported 105-percent pretax profit growth to 7.5 million euros in the first quarter compared to the same period in 2001, despite an 8-percent fall in sales to 245 million euros. There was a 58-percent improvement in refining margins. Petrola’s share rose 4.15 percent to 4.02 euros. EFG Eurobank Ergasias economist Platon Monokroussos forecast a «more pronounced [inflation deceleration process] in the May-June 2002 period» followed by a gradual return to high levels in the second half of the year.