ECONOMY

In Brief

AB Vassilopoulos investment plans intact Major Greek supermarket chain AB Vassilopoulos plans to go ahead with its investment plans this year despite the global economic crisis, its chief executive said yesterday. Food retailers around the world are taking a hit due to a consumption slowdown but AB, Greece’s second-largest supermarket chain, believes it is well placed to weather the storm, thanks to its focus on generic products and lower operational costs. «(This year) we will invest about 65 million euros ($85.82 million)… mainly to refurbish existing stores, expand the network and upgrade IT operations and the supply chain,» Konstantinos Macheras, AB’s chief executive, told Reuters in an interview. Macheras said the company’s profitability this year is expected at the same levels as in 2008, but gave no specific numbers. In 2008, AB, majority-owned by Belgium’s Delhaize, reported net profit of 32.7 million euros on sales of 1.34 billion euros. «(This year) we will be at the same levels,» he said. «We will not let our investors down.» With the economy slowing and consumers tightening spending, Greek supermarket sales have been taking a hit, with sales by volume dropping 4.9 percent in January, according to official statistics. Macheras said AB is weathering the crisis due to its lower operational costs compared to its domestic competitors, its wide variety of generic products and more efficient management of its inventories. (Reuters) Minoan Group says it has no news on court case Minoan Group Plc, the London-based developer building one of Greece’s biggest tourist resorts, said a Greek court has yet to rule on an appeal against the project, denying a report saying the luxury development may be at risk. «No judgment has yet been issued by the court, the sole authority to do so,» the AIM-quoted company said in a Regulatory news wire statement yesterday. The company responded to reports including by Agence France-Press that the Greek Council of State, the country’s highest administrative court, upheld an appeal against a government approval of the project’s environmental impact report. Since winning the right to build on a 6,000-acre peninsula in northeast Crete, Minoan has spent almost a decade in Greek courts fending off challenges to the plan. The company’s environmental study, which outlines how the resort will minimize the impact on the environment, took four years to draft. (Bloomberg) Bank placement National Bank, Greece’s largest lender, is placing up to 6 million of its own shares held in treasury, the bank’s chief financial officer said yesterday. «On the back of the recent strong performance in bank equities in Europe, NBG is placing up to 6 million of treasury stock through an accelerated book building process,» CFO Anthimos Thomopoulos said. At yesterday’s market prices, the placement could fetch about 84 million euros ($111 million). (Reuters) Multirama deal Vandervelle Holdings SA, a company controlled by businessman Panos Germanos, offered 2.23 euros apiece to buy the shares it doesn’t already own in computer retailer Multirama SA. Vandervelle is offering to buy 5.18 million shares, or nearly 60.4 percent, of Multirama after Vandervelle’s stake in the company rose to 39.7 percent, according to an Athens bourse filing. (Bloomberg)