ECONOMY

In Brief

2004 Games the focus of Japanese interest in Greece The Olympic Games of 2004, agrotourism and theme parks provide the focus of interest of Japanese tourists in Greece, according to Deputy Development Minister Dimitris Georgakopoulos, who recently visited the tourism exhibition in Yokohama. In view of the upbeat prospects, the two countries are to explore the feasibility of direct flights between them. Meanwhile, Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) Chairman Yiannis Patellis discussed prospects for boosting the flow of visitors from Canada and the USA with Canadian Ambassador Philip Somerville and US commercial attache Walter Hagi. Patellis recently had contacts in both countries. In another development, the GNTO has agreed to sponsor and promote the Messinia Chamber of Commerce’s cultural campaign «The Routes of the Olive Tree and its Oil,» in support of Mediterranean cuisine. Scottish & Newcastle sees future in partnership with Mythos Chairman of Britain’s Scottish & Newcastle (S&N) brewery group Sir Brian Stewart expressed confidence in the prospects of his company’s partnership with Greece’s Boutari in its subsidiary Mythos Breweries. «We are anxious to contribute to the future growth of Mythos Breweries with the expertise of our people and the dynamism of our products,» he said at a press conference in Athens. S&N will inject 309 million euros into Mythos for a 46.46-percent stake in the company, while Boutari will hold an equal stake. The remaining 7.07 percent will be held by Alpha and ETBA banks. Mythos Breweries today is Greece second largest brewery group, producing Mythos, Kaiser and Henninger, and importing Foster’s, Carlsberg, Guinness and Kilkenny. Mythos beer today has an estimated 13.5-percent market share, projected to rise to 20 percent by 2004. Smuggling Customs officials indicated they will probably announce strike action today in protest against the Finance and Merchant Marine ministries’ decision to hand over 14 patrol speed boats from the Financial Crimes Squad to the Coast Guard, charging that the measure will undermine the country’s capacity to fight fuel smuggling and will have an adverse impact on revenue collection. They said that so far this year alone, the squad has detected five cases of fuel smuggling, confiscated one ship, collected more than 2.5 million euros in customs dues from illegally sailing yachts and discovered 207 illegal fuel tanks. Cement Analysts consider it likely that the French-based Lafarge cement group will sell assets worth around 400 million euros in Greece and Egypt as part of a drive to reduce its debt-to-equity ratio, according to Dow Jones Newswires. The drive is thought likely to affect Heracles General Cement’s export unit and the group’s 38-percent share in Egypt’s Alexandria Portland Cement, which may be sold into the joint partnership with Greece’s Titan Cement in Egypt. No rate cut Cyprus’s Central Bank will not lower interest rates until spiraling inflation is checked, its governor said yesterday. «There cannot be any further reduction of rates right now unless the situation changes,» Central Bank governor Christodoulos Christodoulou said in a government press release. (Reuters) «Greeks are not educated on corporate bonds nor are they used to buying four-year, 10-year paper,» he said.