ECONOMY

In Brief

Government denies giving go-ahead for Vovos project The Environment Ministry denied media reports yesterday that it had given the go-ahead for property developer Vovos to resume work on a major shopping mall project in Athens, denting sharp gains made in Vovos’s share price. «After press reports saying that Vovos was given the green light to build a shopping mall in Votanikos, the Energy and Environment Ministry clarifies that these reports are absolutely inaccurate and do not reflect reality,» the ministry said in a statement. Construction of the 300-million-euro shopping mall in the underdeveloped Votanikos area of Athens was halted late last year by a temporary court injunction that was made on environmental grounds. In October, a final ruling said the mall violated building rules but Vovos said at the time the project could still go ahead if the developer and its partner, the City of Athens, trimmed their own construction plans and increased green space in the area. The project is also closely related to the building of a new soccer stadium for Panathinaikos. (Reuters) Red tape thwarts Greece’s first private LNG import Greek energy firms Motor Oil and Mytilineos said yesterday they had canceled the country’s first private liquefied natural gas (LNG) import because the natural gas grid operator delayed approving it. The firms said in a statement they could not take delivery of the 65,000-cubic-meter shipment, jointly purchased from Italy’s ENI, because state-controlled grid operator DESFA failed to sign a contract providing access to its network. «Our attempt to enter this market, which was unlawfully obstructed by DESFA executives, would have marked the beginning of an era of competition in Greece’s natural gas market,» said Dimitris Papadopoulos, executive director of Mytilineos. (Reuters) Piraeus-Marfin Piraeus Bank yesterday denied market rumors that it had plans to merge with Cyprus-based Marfin Popular Bank. «There is no such thing. We categorically deny it,» Piraeus’s Investor Relations Officer George Poulopoulos told Reuters. Earlier, traders cited market talk of a merger as the reason behind a rise in Marfin Popular stock. Two years ago, Marfin and Piraeus were locked in a takeover battle, with each launching hostile bids against the other. (Reuters) Cyprus growth Cyprus expects to see a marginally positive rate of growth next year, but its debt and deficit figures are set to increase, Finance Minister Charilaos Stavrakis said yesterday. In a prepared budget address to the Cyprus parliament, Stavrakis said the island state did not plan to introduce new taxes in 2010, but said it would be a «crucial» year with challenges ahead. «Cypriot citizens and businesses will continue to have the benefit of the lowest taxes in Europe,» Stavrakis said. (Reuters) Turkish GDP Turkey’s economy shrank less than expected in the third quarter, bolstering hopes the EU candidate country was recovering from recession and rediscovering the dynamism that had made it a star emerging economy. The central bank added to the good news by predicting that inflation would fall below a 6.5 percent target for 2010. (Reuters)