Hellenic Petroleum sale expected to be concluded shortly, says ministry The sale of a 23.17-percent stake in Greece’s largest refiner, Hellenic Petroleum, will be completed in the coming weeks, after several months of delays in negotiations, a Greek official said yesterday. Lukoil and Greece’s Latsis Group, which owns Hellenic’s local rival Petrola, have jointly bid 454 million euros for the stake, in an effort to create a regional energy powerhouse. «We expect to have final decisions on the sale by mid-October or even earlier than that,» a Development Ministry official told Reuters. «Negotiations are really at a good point now, near to conclusion,» he said. Lukoil and Latsis are the sole bidders for the stake after initial interest from Austria’s OMV energy group and Russia’s Yukos quickly faded. The government, eager to push through a series of privatizations, including reducing the State’s share in Hellenic to under 50 percent, had said in May the sale would be completed within two months. But negotiations have dragged on for the past five months. Hellenic owns the 125,000 barrels-per-day capacity Aspropyrgos refinery and the 67,000 bpd Thessaloniki plant. It is also currently constructing a 390-megawatt electricity plant in northern Greece and also owns a controlling stake in neighboring Macedonia’s Okta refinery. (Reuters) Bank of Greece announces ranking of primary dealers in August The Bank of Greece yesterday released the following ranking of primary dealers on the basis of their activity in the Greek government bond market in August. They are: National Bank of Greece, EFG Eurobank Ergasias, Alpha Bank, Piraeus Bank, UBS AG, Lehman Brothers International (Europe), HSBC Bank Plc, ING Bank NV, BNP Paribas, Commercial Bank, CSFB (Europe) Ltd, Goldman Sachs International Ltd, Deutsche Bank AG, San Paolo-IMI Bank, Salomon Brothers International Ltd, JP Morgan Securities Ltd, Morgan Stanley & Co International Ltd, and Merrill Lynch International. (Reuters) US aid for Turkey The United States will grant its close Muslim ally Turkey almost 200 million dollars (206 million euros) to help it overcome the current economic crisis, the treasury said here yesterday. The announcement came as Washington is trying to ensure support from regional countries for possible military operation against Iraq, Turkey’s southern neighbor. «A grant of 199,908,328 dollars will be secured from the USA to support the economic program implemented in cooperation with the IMF (International Monetary Fund) and to be used in the service of foreign debt,» the treasury statement said. The grant will be used to repay Turkish debt to the USA, but not loans for the purchase of US military equipment, it added. Turkey has asked Washington to forgive or at least relieve part of the some 5 billion dollars it owes the USA for loans to cover the purchase of military hardware. The grant agreement is to be signed in Ankara today by Turkish Economy Minister Masum Turker and US Ambassador Robert Pearson. Turkey, a NATO member, has been battling a severe economic crisis since last year with the help of a 16-billion-dollar credit from the International Monetary Fund. But Ankara has voiced opposition to US plans to topple the regime of Saddam Hussein because of fears that regional turmoil could add to its economic woes. (AFP) «While EU community funds are expected to contribute to a third of Greece’s growth rate, national funds will account for 2.7-2.8 percent of the total figure,» he said.