ECONOMY

In Brief

Iranian gas pipeline study to commence next month The feasibility study on the pipeline that will bring natural gas from Iran through Turkey to Greece and further afield to Europe will begin in November, an EU energy official was quoted by the Financial Times as saying on Monday. Turkey aims to sell annually 500 million cubic meters of natural gas to Greece through this pipeline, which will cost $300 million, said Giokhan Bildaci, the head of the country’s state oil and gas company, Botas. Turkey began buying Iranian natural gas in December 2001 on the basis of a 25-year agreement for 4 million cubic meters annually, which will be raised to 10 million from 2007. The EU official dismissed speculation about US pressure on Greece and the EU to block the scheme, saying that the US embargo on Iran did not apply to the EU. Bildaci said any delay in the construction of the pipeline would cost Turkey $208,000 daily. CBG launches new services for small and mid-sized firms The Commercial Bank of Greece (CBG) yesterday presented a range of new specialized services for small and medium-sized enterprises (SME). Jean-Cristophe Fromantin, chairman of CBG’s French partner firm Interex, presented the website interex.gr, launched to provide a valuable tool for the growth of exporting enterprises. A large part of the information and services offered on interex.gr is free. CGB’s General Manager Georgios Michelis said the bank aspired to play a prominent role in supporting SME participating in the EU-subsidized investment projects of the Third Community Support Framework through competitive special short- and long-term lending facilities. Greek SME represent the majority of Greek enterprises, employ 73.5 percent of workers and account for 59.2 percent of their total turnover. Growth rate The government will revise downward its 2003 growth estimate, currently seen at 4.1 percent, Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis said yesterday, without giving any details. «This will not have a major impact on the budget,» he told Parliament. (Reuters) Vodafone Vodafone-Panafon’s Greek subscribers totaled 3,113,260 on September 30, 15.5 percent higher than a year earlier. Net new connections numbered 71,348. The number of pre-paying customers was 2,239,080, or 72 percent of the total. Churn rose from 5.6 percent to 6.5 percent, mainly of pre-paying customers. Contract customer churn rose from from 8.6 percent to 8.8 percent. Active customers represented 78 percent of the total, with respective percentages of 92 and 72 in the contract and pre-paying categories. The customers of Vodafone Albania, which has a 39 percent market share, on September 30 numbered 270,626. Investments Total Greek investment in Bulgaria is expected to reach $1 billion by the end of 2002, Deputy Prime Minister and Economy Minister Nikolay Vasilev told representatives of Greek companies and banks operating in Bulgaria at a meeting in the Greek Embassy in Sofia yesterday. In the January-June period, Greece’s investments equaled $72 million, topping the list of foreign investors in Bulgaria. Companies with Greek participation employ some 80,000 Bulgarians and bank remittances by Bulgarians working in Greece exceed $150 million annually.