ECONOMY

In Brief

Consumers will subsidize private energy producers The lack of state funds and the unwillingness on the part of private producers to provide adequate financing for any foray into electricity generation has led the Energy Regulatory Authority (ERA) to propose a surcharge of 73 cents per megawatt-hour on electricity bills. The revenue collected will be used to subsidize up to 40 percent of the cost for each new privately owned electricity generation unit. ERA is also considering obliging Public Power Corporation (PPC) to sell up to 10 percent of its total energy production to middlemen for resale. PPC lost its monopoly on electricity production in February 2001 but has retained the monopoly of distribution. So far, no privately produced electricity has reached the market. Hellenic Railways set to price 200-mln-euro, 10-yr bond LONDON – Greek state transport firm Hellenic Railways (OSE) plans to price a 200-million-euro 10-year bond at 18 basis points over the swaps curve today, sources close to the deal said yesterday. The transaction was originally mandated in July and is being lead managed by HSBC Markets. The deal will carry an explicit guarantee from the Greek government. (Reuters) Privatization delay Romania yesterday delayed a deadline for bids for the country’s last unsold aluminium plant, Alprom, and assigned an auditor to investigate the privatization of its main raw materials supplier Alro Slatina. Bank of America will investigate the sale of Alro, one of Europe’s biggest aluminium smelters, after media accusations of favoritism toward US metals trader Marco International, which bought the plant for $73 million in April. «Potential investors asked us for a 20-day extension as they have to close their due diligence reports,» Isabela Niculescu of the privatization agency APAPS said. She said bids for 69.92 percent in Alprom’s 170.4-billion-lei ($5.2-million) capital should now be lodged by September 23. Alumil of Greece and local firm Metalexportimport have also expressed interest in Alprom, which holds 50 percent of the local market for rolled and extruded alloys. Civil servants’ discontent ADEDY, the civil servants’ top union, is threatening action, accusing the government of going back on its promise to provide a unified pay scale that would result in significant pay hikes. The ADEDY leadership said the government’s economic reforms had failed and predicted «a new round of austerity» next year. Big rise in profits Gregory’s Snacks, a fast-food company, reported a turnover rise of 166 percent, to 25.7 million euros, and a 132-percent rise in profits, to 5.1 million euros, in the first half of the year, compared to the same period in 2001. Allatini Allatini, a former flour mill and now a ceramics firm, reported a decline in turnover, by 5 percent, to 14.053 million euros, in the first half of 2002. Profits also declined significantly, to 290,000 euros, from 534,000 in the same period in 2001.