ECONOMY

Everest buys Olympic arm

Fast-food chain Everest yesterday received the green light from the government for its takeover of a 58-percent stake in Olympic Catering for about 16 million euros. Everest, which owns a chain of 260 outlets in Greece, Romania and Cyprus, will pay 4 euros per share, with the valuation equivalent to Olympic Catering’s share price in the weeks prior to the company submitting its binding bid. News of the takeover lifted Everest’s stock by 1.09 percent yesterday, in contrast with Olympic Catering which fell by 0.99 percent to close at 4 euros. Under the terms of the agreement, Everest also agreed to take over the costs of a 1999 voluntary redundancy agreement and to retain the entire work force for at least two years after signing the contract. National flag-carrier Olympic Airways, which holds a 68-percent stake, will foot 20 percent of the redundancy costs incurred in 2003 and 2004. Olympic Catering was put up for sale in July as the government attempted to divest the airline of its non-core activities as part of a restructuring plan. The catering subsidiary is one of three companies licensed to provide in-flight catering services at Eleftherios Venizelos airport. It services some 25 airlines. Sales last year amounted to 49.2 million euros. Everest, which has a memorandum of understanding with LSG Sky Chefs, is expected to take over ground catering and supply services while the Lufthansa catering subsidiary will handle flight catering. Swiss flight-catering firm Gate Gourmet has also indicated its interest in linking up with the winning bidder either via a joint venture or collaboration. The takeover agreement will be put to shareholders for their approval. The government was advised by Deloitte & Touche.