Athens Water Board (EYDAP) announced yesterday that it had agreed with France’s Vivendi Environnement to cooperate in the Balkan region as it seeks to expand activities beyond the small Greek market. EYDAP Chairman Eleftherios Tzellas told Reuters the aim was to capture a share of the estimated 100 billion euros ($99.2 billion) to be spent in the Balkan region over the next few years to upgrade water and sewer systems to European standards. The two companies will establish joint ventures to provide technical support and to construct, operate and maintain water and sewer systems. «The company’s basic strategies are expansion to new activities and participation in other companies at home and in neighboring countries,» he told shareholders at the company’s annual meeting. Apart from Balkan countries such as Albania, Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, Montenegro and Slovenia, the agreement also applies to activities in Malta, Cyprus, Egypt and Libya. Tzellas told Reuters the agreement would be signed in Paris in the first two weeks of July. «We will create joint ventures (for) water supply, sewerage and biological waste treatment,» he said. Athens Water, 60 percent owned by the State, began a three-year restructuring plan to streamline operations after it listed on the Athens Stock Exchange in early 2000 as part of the government’s ongoing privatization program. In 2001, the first year of its drive, revenues rose 12.01 percent to 287.6 million euros and pretax profit gained 3.8 percent to 108 million euros. The cessation of 11 million euros in state subsidies drove pretax profits in the first quarter of 2002 down 64.8 percent year-on-year to 6.8 million euros. Turnover grew 4.6 percent to 62.3 million euros.