ECONOMY

In Brief

Gov’t transfers 3 percent of OTE to D. Telekom The Greek government transferred a 3 percent stake in OTE telecom to Deutsche Telekom yesterday, completing a sale that gives DT control of the Greek phone company. The state sold 14.9 million shares for a previously agreed price of 431 million euros, or 29 euros a share, to Deutsche Telekom. The transaction is part of a May agreement through which Greece and DT will each hold a 25 percent stake plus one share of OTE. «This strategic partnership secures OTE’s future in a liberalized European telecoms market,» the Economy and Finance Ministry said in a statement. «Customers and businesses will now have more effective and economical service.» Coca-Cola HBC sticks to its 2008 targets The Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company stuck to its 2008 targets after posting a flat third-quarter profit at the high end of market expectations, and said it would continue containing costs in a bid to boost profits in 2009. CCCHBC, the world’s second-largest Coke bottler, yesterday reported unchanged year-on-year net profit of 213 million euros ($276.2 million) versus an average of 206.5 million euros forecast by analysts recently polled by Reuters. Forecasts ranged from 181 million to 213 million euros. The global soft drinks business has been badly hit by higher input costs and the world economic crisis, which has resulted in consumers cutting back on spending. Last month, CCHBC cut its 2008 profit and volume targets for the second time this year, blaming the economic downturn and unfavorable weather in key markets such as Russia. CCHBC bottles Coke-branded products in 28 countries across Europe and in Nigeria, with more than half of its revenues coming from its developing and emerging markets. (Reuters) Alfa-Beta profits Greek supermarket chain Alfa-Beta Vassilopoulos, majority-owned by Belgian Delhaize, reported yesterday a 25.5 percent drop in nine-month net profit on higher operating costs. Net group profit fell to 16.8 million euros ($21.58 million) from 22.5 million euros last year, it said. «Operating costs rose… reflecting investments for upgrades of (Plus Hellas),» it said. «Expenses were also burdened by rising energy costs and inflationary pressures.» Sales grew 14.2 percent in the first nine months of the year to 958 million euros, as the chain expanded its network, the company said. Vassilopoulos said 2008 results are not fully comparable with 2007, as it now consolidates the Plus Hellas chain acquired earlier this year. Vassilopoulos, with a network of 195 stores, also said it plans to launch seven new stores by the end of the year. (Reuters) Bank loss Emporiki Bank of Greece SA, the Greek unit of France’s Credit Agricole SA, posted a net loss in the first nine months of the year as global financial turmoil hurt earnings and the bank took a tax charge. The loss was 121.3 million euros ($155.7 million), compared with a profit of 76.5 million euros a year earlier, according to a filing with the Athens bourse yesterday. Emporiki also said it will hold a shareholder meeting on February 13 to seek approval for a capital increase. (Bloomberg)