By Nicolas Bornozis
Greek stocks decreased this week, by 1.06% closing at 2102.1 points, ending the rise of the past three weeks. The positive nine-months results of NBG put the pressure out of the banking sector on Friday, but had no element of surprise that could boost the market. The FTSE/ASE 20 Index fall by 1.50% closing at 1051.57 while the FTSE/ASE 40 lost 0,84%, ending the week at 227.48 points. The FTSEASE small cap 80 Index fell slightly this week, 0.92% closing on Friday at 593.36 points.
Greece’s long-term foreign and local currency ratings, were upgraded from A to A+, by the international rating agency, Fitch Ratings. According to the rating agency, “the upgrade reflects a sustained improvement in the performance of the Greek economy in recent years and an ongoing fiscal consolidation”. A further decline in the ratio of government debt to GDR is expected by Fitch, estimated to fall below 100% in 2004. Following the path of the last seven years, during which Greece has been the fastest growing EU economy. Fitch reported that this trend will continue in the current year, keeping the short-term foreign currency rating at F1, and the long-term outlook rating stable.
Due to a strike by the staff of the Greek National Statistics Service, no economic indicators will be released for the period until the 31st of October. Therefore September inflation, August producer prices and July retail sales figures are some of the indicators that have already been delayed.
Furthermore, Greece’s August Balance of Payment, announced by the Bank of Greece, shows that the current account deficit reached EUR 4.73bn, realizing an increase of EUR 390m in the period from January 2003 to August 2003 compared with the respective period in 2002. Non-oil trade deficit decreased by EUR 436m in the first eight months of 2003, while an increased by EUR 218m was realized at exports receipts. Import bill declined by EUR 217m. Therefore the non-oil trade deficit fell. According to Bank of Greece, the services surplus grew by EUR 506m, as the increase in net transport receipts more than offset the decrease in net travel receipts.
Greece’s Institute for Economic and Industrial Research, IOVE, on its quarterly review on the Greek economy, stated that inflation would remain above the European average through 2004 due to fiscal loosening which leads to budget deficits.
S&B Industrial Minerals S.A.
S&B Industrial Minerals intents to acquire 96,8% of the listed Bulgarian company Bentonit AD. Bentonit AD acts as a mining, processing and distributing bentonite and perlite company. The reserves of bentonite and perlite that the company has is up to 7.3m and 0.8m tones respectively and has the ability to process 200,000 tones of bentonite and 150,000 cubic meters of pertile per year. In 2002, Bentonit realized 9m EUR in sales and an EBITDA of 1.4m EUR. Within the next six weeks, the acquisition is scheduled to be concluded.
PC Systems S.A.
PC Systems S.A participated in “IST 2003”, the largest European Information Technology conference that took place on 2-4 October in Milan, Italy. The conference included a number of simultaneous events, such as business meetings, granting of European IST awards, exhibitions of innovative technologies, and others. The IST 2003 exhibition took place in the premises of SMAU 2003, the second largest international exhibition of Informational.
Within the framework of its participation in the ITU Telecom World 2003 at Geneva, Intracom signed framework agreements with the Russian Telecom organization Center Telecom for the supply of telecom equipment and provision of services, worth 4 million euros. These contracts pertain to the supply of wireless and wired access systems for digital broadband services provision and they will be implemented on a “turn-key”-basis project scheme. “Intracom Sviaz”, Intracom’s subsidiary in Russia, will participate in the implementation of these projects.
General Bank has attracted seven non-binding offers from prospective buyers. Other sources of the press assert that the offers come up to eight. The deadline for submitting offers expired on Tuesday the 21st of October and the groups that submitted offers were: Marfin Bank, Aspis Bank, First Business Bank, Alpha trust, Probank, and two international groups. The stake to be privatised is unspecified, but a percentage of 25% to 40% is speculated. The CEO of FBB, Stathis Papageorgiou, told Reuters that FBB’s target is at least 33%, but the main goal is to acquire the 50.1%.
National Bank of Greece
National Bank of Greece has announced nine-month results on Thursday 23rd of October. Consolidated EBT after minorities reached an amount of EUR 382.5m, increasing by 38.4%, while core operating profit rose by 58%. Trading income rose by 43%, reaching EUR 960.6m, with commissions rising 15% to EUR 285.9m. An item that moved higher than expected is extraordinary gains which are related with property sales.