In Brief

Construction activity falls 17.3 pct in August Greek construction activity, measured by the number of new building permits, fell 17.3 percent in August from a year earlier, the National Statistics Service (NSS) said yesterday. The NSS said 3,353 new permits were issued nationwide in August, corresponding to 965,900 square meters, versus 4,056 permits a year earlier, which covered 1.35 million square meters. A total of 43,865 new permits were issued around the country in the period from January-August, down 16.9 percent from the period a year earlier, amounting to 11.5 million square meters, the NSS said. The slump in construction adds to the drag on the economy, which is seen as slowing to 2.5 percent annual growth next year, based on European Commission forecasts. (Reuters) Hellenic Carriers drops plans to buy ship Hellenic Carriers Ltd, a UK-listed commodities shipping line, dropped plans to buy a ship for $69.7 million after rental rates and vessel values plunged. Hellenic won’t buy the Furness Timika from Great Homes Maritime SA, the Piraeus-based company said in a statement yesterday. The decision will cost Hellenic $8 million. This «safeguards the company’s liquidity in these very difficult times for the shipping industry,» Chief Financial Officer Dimitris Sfakianakis said by phone. The purchase could have «strained» the company’s finances next year, he said. The Baltic Dry Index, a measure of shipping costs for commodities, has plunged 93 percent from a record high reached on May 20. Slowing economic growth has curbed demand for raw materials, while a global credit freeze has made it harder to get financing for cargoes. (Bloomberg) Geniki denial Greek business group Restis yesterday dismissed a press report that it had made an offer to buy a 50.1 percent stake in small lender Geniki Bank, which is majority-owned by Societe Generale. Shares of Geniki Bank were trading sharply higher, up 14.1 percent at 1.86 euros on the Athens bourse, outperforming a 0.35 percent rise in the benchmark general index. «The Restis Group categorically denies that it has made any offer to acquire shares in Geniki Bank that are held by Societe Generale,» the group, which is active in shipping, said in a statement. Earlier yesterday, financial website reported that the Restis Group had made an offer to buy 50.1 percent in lossmaking Geniki, valuing the bank at about 1.0 to 1.2 times its book value. It said that in the event of a deal, Restis Group may merge Geniki with First Business Bank, in which it holds a 51 percent stake. (Reuters) Turkish growth Turkish expectations for economic growth in 2009 fell to 2.7 percent, the lowest forecast this year, according to the central bank’s latest survey of businessmen and economists. The forecast declined from 3.1 percent in the previous survey two weeks ago, the Ankara-based bank said on its website yesterday. Growth this year will be 3.3 percent, according to the survey, down from the previous forecast of 3.4 percent. (Bloomberg)