ECONOMY

In Brief

Mytilineos expected to report large drop in gains Greece’s Mytilineos, a metals group expanding into energy, is seen posting a massive drop in 2008 profit after failing to repeat capital gains which boosted the 2007 result, and suffering from higher energy costs. Analysts polled by Reuters saw on average Mytilineos’s net income at 18.4 million euros ($25 million), down 90 percent from a 2007 profit of 193.6 million euros. Mytilineos booked capital gains of 152 million euros in 2007 from the transfer of its energy generation assets into a joint venture with Spanish electricity company Endesa. Record prices for oil and other raw materials also boosted the company’s costs last year. Mytilineos is a major Balkan producer and trader of aluminum, zinc and lead. Vangelis Karanikas, an analyst with HSBC-Pantelakis in Athens, said that «2008 was a year of perfect storm for the group’s metal and mining division, with a strong euro and high costs for fuel oil, metal and freight.» The company is scheduled to report profit figures today. (Reuters) Central bank directors call for clarification NICOSIA (Reuters) – Members of Cyprus’s central bank board of directors on Tuesday called for a clarification of roles at the bank, questioning the authority of its governor in taking decisions on his own. The central bank has sought legal advice to clarify whether executive powers rest with the governor, ECB Governing Council member Athanasios Orphanides, or with the board as a whole, which comprises another five members. «The intention of the board was and is to investigate the legal dimensions of the issue in order to protect the institution from any doubts or legal wrangles,» a statement from three board members said. Orphanides had on Monday said that based on his interpretation of the law, he had executive decision-making powers at the bank. The members of the board, who are appointed by the island’s cabinet, did not have executive powers, he said. Healthcare hit The world economic downturn has triggered a spike in admissions to subsidized government hospitals in Cyprus, with the public shunning costlier private healthcare. Doctors in state hospitals say there has been a 20 percent increase in patient intake in recent weeks. Cypriot government hospital fees are based on a mechanism related to patients’ income, but are generally cheaper than privately run hospitals. «From conversations we have been having with patients it appears that the increase in intake is because of the economic crisis and the (financial) insecurity people have,» said Stavros Stavrou, head of the government doctors’ union. (Reuters) Shipping loans Hellenic Carriers Ltd, a Greek owner of commodity transporters, was given waivers from National Bank of Greece SA and Piraeus Bank SA after the falling values of ships resulted in a breach last year of loan rules, known as covenants. Banks use fleet values when reviewing loans to shipping companies. Commodity rates slid a record 92 percent last year, and values of secondhand Panamax vessels took a dive of 70 percent. (Bloomberg)