ECONOMY

In Brief

Piraeus Bank CEO resigns, seen heading central bank Giorgos Provopoulos, CEO and deputy board chairman at Piraeus Bank, has resigned, Greece’s fourth-largest lender said in a stock market filing yesterday. Greek media have said Provopoulos is expected to take over at the Bank of Greece, the country’s central bank, when current Governor Nicholas Garganas’s term ends in June. «The board will pick a new member at its next meeting to replace him,» Piraeus Bank said in a statement but did not provide any other details. So far, the government has remained silent on the issue. Earlier this month, Garganas, 71, announced he would step down on June 14. Before Piraeus, Provopoulos served as chairman and chief executive at Greece’s fifth-largest lender Emporiki Bank in 2004-06 and oversaw the bank’s sale to Credit Agricole in 2006. Provopoulos also served as deputy governor at the Bank of Greece from 1990-93. (Reuters) Bulgaria revokes controversial highway concession SOFIA (Reuters) – Bulgaria’s government yesterday revoked a 715-million-euro controversial highway concession granted to a Portuguese-led consortium after the group failed to provide funding for its construction. The Balkan country granted the 35-year concession to Portuguese firms MSF, Somague and Lena Engenharia e Construcoes and their Bulgarian partners in 2005 without a tender, sparking a public outcry over the lack of transparency. The deal had been blocked by legal and political wrangles until January this year, when the Socialist-led government re-negotiated the deal, scrapping state aid and obliging the investors to shoulder the construction risk. But following the global credit crunch, the investors failed to secure funding to complete and upgrade the 443-kilometer highway from Bulgaria’s capital Sofia to the Black Sea city of Burgas. Construction Minister Asen Gagauzov has said the European Union newcomer will finance the construction of a 107 km stretch and hopes to choose builders so the highway is completed by mid-2010. Cyprus cement plant Cypriot cement works Vassiliko awarded China’s CBMI Construction Co Ltd an 83.3-million-euro contract yesterday to build a new cement production plant on the island, officials said. The high-tech production unit is expected to be operational by the end of 2010, increasing the company’s annual production capacity from 1.85 million tons to 2.50 million tons. CEO Antonis Antoniou said that, «without this investment, the long-term prospects of Vassiliko would have been limited.» (AFP) Albania refinery A US consortium has won control of Albania’s only oil refinery with a bid of 125 million euros, the government announced Wednesday. The Refinery Associates of Texas and Antika Enterprises Consortium of the USA and Switzerland will own 85 percent of the state-controlled ARMO company, the Economy Ministry said in a statement. (AFP)