In Brief

Greek-Australian social security deal starts A social security agreement signed recently between Greece and Australia came into force October 1, providing improved access to pensions for people in both countries, according to the Australian Embassy in Athens. The agreement will allow people who live in Greece or Australia to claim entitlement to pensions from both countries, while also reducing costs for businesses in both markets, the embassy said in a statement on Wednesday. People will be able to move between two countries knowing that their pension rights are recognized in both nations, the embassy added. Some 50,000 people living in Australia and Greece are expected to claim a retirement pension from either or both countries. Commission gives green light for OTE deal Germany’s Deutsche Telekom won permission from EU competition regulators yesterday to buy control of Greek telecoms group OTE. «The Commission concluded that the transaction would not significantly impede effective competition,» the EU executive said in a statement. Europe’s telecommunications industry is consolidating as companies seek new growth areas to counter increased competition. Deutsche Telekom’s strategic deal with OTE will cover Southeast Europe with fixed and mobile operations. Deutsche Telekom hopes to boost growth with OTE’s mobile phone units in Romania, Bulgaria, Albania and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, which will help offset falling fixed-line revenues and increased mobile competition in developed markets. (Reuters) Pace slowdown Eurobank Properties Real Estate Investment Co, Greece’s biggest real estate investment trust, will add new properties to its portfolio at a slower rate over the next six months, general manager George Chryssikos said. «We’ve adopted a wait-and-see strategy,» Chryssikos said in an interview in London. «We anticipate that a lot of distressed portfolios will be coming to market, so it’s better to slow the pace of investment,» he said. «More attractive opportunities will come in the following months.» The worst banking crisis since the Great Depression has driven down property prices across the USA and Europe and caused some British and US banks to tighten lending conditions. While residential property sales have slowed in many countries, demand for commercial real estate in Greece and the Balkans remains strong, Chryssikos said. (Bloomberg) Margins up Motor Oil Hellas SA, Greece’s second-largest refiner, said refining margins rose to «very high levels» last month after hurricanes Gustav and Ike cut output along the US Gulf Coast, boosting demand for European supplies. The refining margin, or the profit from turning crude into fuels such as gasoline and diesel, was «more than $12 to $13 a barrel but below $20,» Chief Financial Officer Petros Tzannetakis said yesterday. (Bloomberg) Construction revenues Ellaktor SA, Greece’s biggest builder, said its Aktor SA unit expects up to 1.2 billion euros ($1.7 billion) in full-year construction revenues. The company also plans to bid for a 1.4-billion-euro Attica ring road extension project, Ellaktor said in a company presentation posted on its website yesterday. (Bloomberg)

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