ECONOMY

In Brief

Blue chips propel Athens bourse to greater heights The rise continued on the Greek bourse yesterday for the fourth session in a row, as investors staked their bets on developments in the banking sector. The Athens Exchange (ATHEX) general index closed at 1,673.40 points, expanding 1 percent from last Friday’s close at 1,656.82 points. The blue chip FTSE/ATHEX 20 index grew by 0.93 percent to end at 823.01 points. A total of 94 stocks headed north, 75 ended with losses and 36 remained unchanged. The exclusive operator and manager of numerical lottery and sports betting games in Greece, OPAP, moved up 4.08 percent, while Public Power Corporation shares posted the largest growth among blue chips, with a rise of 3.85 percent. Turnover came to 89.1 million euros. Ireland ponders keeping parts of Anglo Irish Bank DUBLIN (Reuters) – Ireland is still mulling whether to keep parts of Anglo Irish Bank open but stands ready to close it down if that helps to keep the country solvent, Finance Minister Brian Lenihan said yesterday. Earlier yesterday, the Irish Independent newspaper reported Lenihan would ask the European Commission to allow a closure of the troubled lender over a 10-year period and analysts say that scenario is looking increasingly likely. Science and Technology Junior Minister Conor Lenihan said on Saturday the bank would be «decommissioned,» the latest signal that the government, conscious of its wafer-thin parliamentary majority, is set to cave in to growing pressure. Anglo Irish has submitted a plan to Brussels, favoring the option of carving out a small functioning bank via a «good bank/bad bank» split and Lenihan said yesterday that this proposal was still on the table. «We have to evaluate that case,» Lenihan said. «If what is best for the taxpayer and for the country, in terms of the risks to the country’s solvency… If the best option is a workout [wind-down] over an extended period of time, then so be it,» Lenihan told public radio RTE before flying to Brussels. The escalating cost of rescuing Anglo Irish is a major threat to Ireland’s creditworthiness, with analysts seeing it as the next potential eurozone trouble spot after Greece despite much-vaunted efforts to cut public spending. FxPro shares FxPro Group Ltd, a Cyprus-based foreign exchange broker, said it plans to sell shares in an initial public offering next month. FxPro, which serves mostly retail clients, will sell about a third of its stock on the Alternative Investment Market in London through a share offering, the Limassol, Cyprus-based company said yesterday in a statement. Macquarie Capital (Europe) Ltd will act as the sole bookrunner. «We are an exciting company with a strong track record of profitable growth in a rapidly growing market,» FxPro CEO Panagiotis Xydas said in the statement. «FxPro aims to exploit the opportunities presented by the continued growth of the foreign exchange market globally.» The firm makes its profit by trading so-called contracts for difference on equities, commodities, futures and other securities. CFDs are instruments that allow investors to bet on the price of a security or commodity without actually buying or selling it. FxPro’s net income rose 84 percent to 34.1 million pounds ($52.7 million) in 2009 compared with a year earlier. (Bloomberg) Deposits down Deposits by businesses and households held in Greek banks in July dropped to 212.3 billion euros from 216.5 billion euros in the previous month, the Bank of Greece said. That’s the seventh straight monthly drop this year, the Athens-based central bank said in a statement posted on its website today. (Bloomberg) Builder protection Atti-Kat SA, a Greek construction company, filed for creditor protection as it faces liquidity problems on delayed payments arising from Greece’s economic crisis, according to an Athens bourse filing yesterday. Atti-Kat said it will begin «immediate» discussions with its creditors and present a business and debt restructuring plan, according to the filing. (Bloomberg)