ECONOMY

In Brief

EU court decides OA 9/11 aid was legal A European Union court said yesterday state aid to Greece’s flagship carrier Olympic Airlines for losses related to the September 11 attacks in New York was legal, annulling a previous European Commission ruling. The court reversed a 2006 European Commission ruling that required the airline to pay back part of the compensation it got from the Greek government. Greece had given Olympic about 5 million euros to cover costs incurred over a two-week period after the September 11, 2001 attacks. Olympic had to pay back 3 million euros as per the European Commission’s ruling. The airline appealed to the EU’s second-highest court which reversed the decision, saying it was unjustified. «The court annuls the Commission’s decision… on the grounds that the evidence on which the Community institution relied in order to substantiate the lack of causal connection did not justify its determination,» the court said in a statement. (Reuters) Egypt cancels stake in its third-largest bank CAIRO (Reuters) – Egypt canceled the auction of a stake in its third-largest bank yesterday, saying bids were too low, rejecting a National Bank of Greece offer valuing it at $2.025 billion. The government planned to sell up to 67 percent of Banque du Caire in Egypt’s largest bank privatization since it sold 80 percent of Bank of Alexandria in 2006. «The auction did not reach the price set by the evaluating committee,» Banque du Caire Chairman Mohamed Barakat told a news conference. «The intention to sell the bank is still there but no timing has been decided,» he added. Charter changed Greek betting monopoly OPAP got shareholder approval yesterday to amend part of its corporate charter as it prepares for a possible opening of the country’s gaming market. Europe’s biggest betting firm will adopt tougher measures against gambling addiction, one of the main arguments that Greece has used against the European Union, which has been mounting pressure on the country to lift gaming restrictions. «The shareholders meeting approved the amendment of Article 2 of the firm’s charter to include in its mission the adoption of consistent and systematic measures as part of the state policy against gambling,» OPAP said in a bourse filing. The approved changes also allow OPAP to offer consulting services outside Greece. (Reuters) Natural gas Britain’s Melrose Resources plans to invest some $90 million to convert a Bulgarian natural gas field into a storage facility in 2009, the company announced yesterday. The project is supported by the Bulgarian government, which wants to have a second storage facility to boost security of supply in line European Union guidance, the oil and gas explorer said in a statement. «Studies have confirmed that the Galata field is ideally suited for conversion to storage due to its high-quality reservoir properties, infrastructure, configuration and location,» the company said. The storage facility is expected to have a capacity of 1.7 billion cubic meters of gas. In 2001, a Melrose subsidiary signed a 25-year concession agreement with Bulgaria to extract gas from a deposit in the Galata field. (Reuters)