Thessaloniki accelerates for 2008 Expo Thessaloniki’s bid for the 2008 Expo will be based on the theme of human networks and will have to appeal to both developed and developing countries, Macedonia-Thrace Minister Giorgos Paschalidis said yesterday. The city will file its official expression of interest with the Paris-based Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) in a letter by the prime minister in May 2003. The voting for the selection of the city to host the event will take place in one of BIE’s three subsequent sessions, which take place twice yearly. Saragossa in Spain and Trieste in Italy have also indicated interest in hosting the event. Paschalidis, who is meeting senior BIE officials in Thessaloniki today, said timetables for the 20 «Expo projects» required will be set after the municipal elections later this month. A presentation of the candidacy will take place in the BIE session in Monaco in December. IMF directs Turkey to speed up privatizations istanbul (Reuters) – Turkey expects to raise $1.5 billion of revenue from privatizations next year as it pushes ahead with an IMF-backed sell-off of state assets, the head of the privatization administration, Turgut Bozkurt, said. Turkey has pledged to sell off state holdings ranging from banking to telecoms, as well as the state airline as part of its $16-billion IMF recovery program. Turkey has raised $515 million so far this year from privatizations against a 2002 target of $700 million. The IMF has urged Ankara to accelerate its sell-off program. Raising state revenues and cutting spending are crucial elements of the IMF program aimed at dealing with Turkey’s massive domestic debt load. One of the main privatizations planned for next year is the sale of state alcohol and tobacco monopoly Tekel. Mobile deal Ferry operator Lesvos Maritime Company’s (NEL) three high-speed Aeolos vessels have been painted the colors of mobile phone operator Telestet and will carry its logo for the next three years, according to a 1.7-million-euro deal, which also involves advertising on all NEL’s printed material, Telestet centers on board and a ticket booking system through mobiles. Olympic contract Construction group J&P Avax said it signed an 82-million-euro contract to build baseball, softball and hockey facilities for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. The project involves the construction of installations for the baseball, softball and hockey events, and the refurbishment of the Olympics complex near the old Hellenikon airport. Installations have to be ready for test events in August 2003. US acquisition Listed construction group Olympic Technical has acquired housing firm DS Ware Homes in Jacksonville, Florida, through its subsidiary TOUSA. «The acquisition is part of TOUSA’s strategic planning for expansion,» said a statement. Fast expansion Gregory’s fast-food chain launched its sixth branch in Bucharest, Romania. The new outlet is the group’s 234th. «The broader expansion into other foreign markets beyond Romania is one of the group’s immediate targets,» said a statement.