In Brief

Number of Greek-flagged ships dropped in 2010 The number of ships in the Greek-flagged merchant marine fleet, the world’s fifth-largest, fell last year as owners favored larger vessels, the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) said yesterday. Vessel numbers dropped 0.7 percent to 2,100 in the year to November 30, compared with growth of 1.5 percent in the year-earlier period. The fleet’s total gross tonnage increased 3.7 percent in the period, to just under 43 million tons, the Athens-based authority said in a statement on its website. The number of tankers in the fleet fell 2.2 percent while the gross tonnage of these vessels increased 3.7 percent. The number of dry-bulk ships, which carry commodities such as coal, fell 2 percent while their gross tonnage rose 7 percent, according to the statement. The Greek-owned fleet, which includes vessels owned by Greeks but flying a different flag, is the largest in the world in terms of carrying capacity ahead of Japan and China, according to the Geneva-based United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. (Bloomberg) Vinci and Greece in talks on revising road contract Vinci SA, Europe’s largest construction company, is in talks with the Greek government to modify operating contracts for two highways it’s building, as the economic slump hurts traffic in the debt-laden country. The French building company isn’t seeking to alter agreements in other European markets, Louis-Roch Burgard, head of Vinci’s operating-concession businesses excluding French toll roads, said in an interview. «Greece is suffering more than other European countries, as its economic adjustment is quite marked,» Burgard said at Vinci’s headquarters in the Paris suburb of Rueil-Malmaison. «We’re currently talking about adjustment measures of the contracts to the new economic conditions.» Vinci’s assets in Greece include a 36 percent stake in Olympia Odos, a partnership that’s building, upgrading and operating a 365-kilometer highway linking Athens, Patra and Tsakona, and 14 percent of Aegean Motorway, a road between Maliakos and Kleidi. «There are no major difficulties in the talks» with the Greek government, Burgard said in the interview last week, declining to specify how agreement terms may be altered. «As far as we can see, there’s no need to revisit contracts elsewhere in Europe,» as «concessions are very resilient, notably for light-vehicle traffic.» (Bloomberg) Cyprus reforms Cyprus must speed up structural changes to the economy to control public finances and shore up its role as a regional financial center, Central Bank of Cyprus Governor Athanasios Orphanides said. Overhauling the pension system and wage indexation are two overdue changes that would help ease concerns of rating companies and protect the country’s creditworthiness, Orphanides said in an interview in Frankfurt. The comments came after Moody’s Investors Service put the east Mediterranean island’s Aa3 rating on review for possible downgrade. (Bloomberg) Serbian sale Serbia’s Finance Ministry confirmed yesterday that it has postponed the sale of its majority stake in state-controlled phone and Internet provider Telekom Srbija to late March. The deadline for binding bids, due to expire on February 21, was postponed to give time notably to France Telecom and Deutsche Telekom, as well as other interested companies to review documentation, the Finance Ministry said in a statement. The new deadline for binding bids to buy a 51 percent stake was set for March 21, with a minimal starting price of 1.4 billion euros, it added, correcting earlier reports which put the final date at March 31. (AFP) Albanian minister Albania’s premier, anxious to preserve government stability amid corruption allegations, named a new economy minister yesterday after the head of the junior coalition partner resigned from the post. Prime Minister Sali Berisha appointed Nasip Naco, the deputy speaker of parliament and a former prosecutor from the Socialist Integration Movement, to the Economy and Energy portfolio. Ilir Meta resigned on Friday after being accused of corruption by his predecessor in the job, Dritan Prifti, a member of his own party. (Reuters)