ECONOMY

In Brief

Elefsis Shipyards files suit with European Union Elefsis Shipyards yesterday filed a suit with the European Union’s Competition Committee, alleging «most serious distortions and violations of competition regulations by Hellenic Shipyards.» Elefsis Shipyards last year lost a bid for Hellenic Shipyards to Germany’s HWD-Ferrostaal consortium but the finalization of the deal has been subject to repeated postponement. According to a statement, the firm charged in its suit that Hellenic has received subsidies and direct and indirect state grants in contravension of specific terms and conditions since the European Union’s approval of a write-off of debts totaling 300 million euros in 1997. It also refers to violations of the terms of the tender for Hellenic and to the «privileged treatment» afforded to its rival, resulting in further distortion of competition and equal treatment regulations. Elefsis said the complaints have been repeatedly submitted to the responsible authorities in recent years to no avail. General Bank reports Q1 loss, search for partner on course General Bank would consider conceding the management to a foreign strategic investor willing to acquire an interest of around 29 percent through a share capital increase, officials told a press briefing yesterday. The search for such a partner is continuing smoothly and the three contestants (San Paolo, Societe Generale and Caisse d’Epargne) are about to complete their inspection of the bank’s data room. The winner is hoped to be selected by the summer. The bank’s loss of 2.98 million euros in the first quarter will have no appreciable impact on the process, being mainly due to provisions against bad debtors of 4.1 million euros and a fall in bond revenue, said its general manager, Yiannis Tsamourgelis. Operating expenses were up 20 percent to 27.64 million in relation to a year earlier. The bank also reported a 45-percent rise in lending to 1.7 million euros, a 13-percent increase in deposits to 1.5 million and 25-percent asset growth to 2.66 billion euros. The bank this year targets a 50-percent rise in loans, asset growth to 3 billion euros and an improvement of the revenue / expenses ratio to below 70 percent. Further targets are the growth of the branch network to 110 units, including the development of small branches with only four or five staff, and a doubling of ATMs to 260 within a year. State subsidies Greek state subsidies and grants reached 1.1 billion euros, or 0.89 percent of GDP, in 2000, against a 0.99 percent average for the EU’s 15 member states, according to data released by the European Commission yesterday. The ratio varies between 0.46 percent for the UK and 1.44 percent for Finland. The EU total fell from 105 billion euros in 1996 to 82 billion in 2000, when it represented three times the amount given by the member states and the EU in development aid to poor countries. Fiat Fiat Auto Hellas is to set up two separate business units in Greece, one for Lancia cars and both private and professional vehicles by Fiat, and another for Alfa Romeo cars. Despite the absence of an accord, the meeting was significant as it set out a long-term financing scheme for IKA, Christodoulakis said.