In Brief

Delek Drilling to explore waters around Cyprus JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel’s Delek Drilling said yesterday it plans to exercise an option to join a natural gas exploration group in waters around Cyprus once it receives approval from Israel’s government. Noble Energy has the rights to the site but Delek Drilling and Avner Oil have an option to buy 15 percent each of the venture, known as Block 12. Both companies are subsidiaries of Delek Energy. «Noble has this area [near Cyprus] to explore. Noble would like us to be part of it. We can be part of the deal, provided we get the permission,» Zvi Greenfield, chief executive of Delek Drilling, told Reuters, declining to provide financial details. He said the company was waiting for approval from Israel’s National Infrastructure Ministry and Tax Authority and noted Noble has yet to start exploration of Block 12. Delek Energy owns 49.8 percent of Delek Drilling, while the Delek Group conglomerate owns 89 percent of Delek Energy. Decline in electricity demand slows Electricity demand in eight countries, including France and the UK, declined at a slower rate for a second month in August, suggesting the recession is easing, according to analysts at Societe Generale SA. Societe Generale’s Smart Electricity Index, which tracks electricity consumption in France, Italy, Belgium, Greece, Portugal, Denmark, Spain and the UK, dropped 3.5 percent year-to-date in August, analysts, including John Honore, said in a note to investors on September 18. That compared with a 4.2 decline in July. (Bloomberg) Stake sale EFG Eurobank, Greece’s second-largest lender, said yesterday it had placed 1.3 million shares of Hellenic Exchanges, reducing its holding to 3.1 percent. EFG Eurobank Ergasias SA said the shares – 2 percent of Hellenic Exchange’s total of common voting stock – were placed at 7.8 euros each, a 3.7 percent discount on Tuesday’s closing price. The bank said it did not intend to further reduce its 3.1 percent stake in the immediate future, as it considers it strategic. Hellenic Exchanges is the operator of Greece’s stock and futures markets. (Reuters) Metka deal A venture headed by Metka SA, Greece’s biggest power plant builder, won a contract to build a combined-cycle power unit for Public Power Corp SA, Greece’s biggest electricity company, in Megalopoli, in the Peloponnese, according to an e-mailed statement yesterday from Athens-based PPC. (Bloomberg) Hochtief IPO Hochtief is preparing an initial public offering of its airports division which it could launch by the end of this year, several financial sources told Reuters on Tuesday. The issue would be Germany’s first major IPO since diesel engine-maker Tognum’s 2.1-billion-euro ($3.1 billion) listing in 2007, before markets were crimped by the global economic crisis. Hochtief said last month it was considering selling shares in the division, seen by analysts as a move that might shore up the company’s market value. It values the unit, which it calls Hochtief Concessions, at 1.54 billion euros. Germany’s largest builder has already picked a short list of banks that could manage the IPO, including Deutsche Bank, Commerzbank, Morgan Stanley, HSBC and WestLB, the sources said. (Reuters)