Air France denies interest in TAP Air Portugal, Portugalia

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Air France Executive Director Pierre Gourgeon said the company is not interested in taking a stake either in the privatisation of TAP Air Portugal in 2003 or in Portugalia Airlines. "We are not now nor are we looking to be candidates to invest in TAP" Jornal de Negocios quoted him in an interview. Gourgeon said TAP had broached the subject of an alliance "several times" but "had not explained its intentions clearly regarding these alliances."...


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Haider: Past scrapes won’t block Schuessel alliance

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Right-wing Freedom Party (FP) figurehead Joerg Haider said on November 27 he is "absolutely in favour" of the FP entering a renewed coalition with conservative Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel's People's Party (VP), which emerged the strongest in national elections on November 24.
Two weeks ago, before the elections, Haider accused Schuessel of stabbing him in the back and luring away his voters. Haider called Schuessel a "madman" and "Napoleon" who was "waging war" against the Freedom Pa...


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Astir Palas records 10% jump in 9-mo turnover

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Luxurious hotel resort Astir Palas Vouliagmenis SA released a company report presenting its account performance for the January-September period of this year. Turnover reached 24.1 million Euro against 22.0 million Euro for the respective period of last year, thus recording an increase of 10 percent. The cost profits together with operational expenses increased by 5.1 percent during the period and amounted to 14.9 million Euro against the 14.1 million respective figures of 2001....


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Coca-Cola HBC becomes full owner of Cretan Bottling

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Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company SA recently published a summary of a draft merger agreement for the absorption of its 100 percent subsidiary under the trade name "Cretan Bottling Company SA." The company said the merger will be concluded upon issuance of its approval by the Ministry of Development. Coca-Cola HBC is one of the largest bottlers of non-alcoholic beverages in Europe and the second largest Coca-Cola bottler in the world by sales volume, operating in 26 countries with a total popu...


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NBG opens second branch in Belgrade

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National Bank of Greece (NBG), a blue chip on the Athens bourse, inaugurated last Tuesday a new bank in Belgrade, its second so far in Yugoslavia. Yugoslav Unit Managing Director Athanassios Panagopoulos told the Athens News Agency that National Bank would open another three outlets in Yugoslavia by Christmas. The director reiterated the bank's target to form a network of 15 branches in the country by the end of next year....


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Proodeftiki inks deal for Bucharest road project

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Proodeftiki SA, an Athens quoted engineering contractor, said it has been allocated a budget of 21.5 million Euro by Romanian authorities for a road building project in the Balkan country. The company forged a merger with another contractor, namely Athena SA, according to ANA. Participation in the project is 65 percent, or 13.975 million Euro. It is noted the project is funded by the European Union....


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INKA gets severe on bank loan rates lure

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One of Greece's largest consumer groups, INKA, has criticised commercial banks for offering consumer loans with high interest rates ahead of the Christmas shopping season. "The danger of further burdening consumers with debt is visible, if loan repayment is not meet timely," an INKA statement noted last week, cited by ANA. The consumer group urged consumers to compare alternative proposals offered by domestic banks, to carefully read all terms in the loan and all repayment terms.
INKA stressed...


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Lavipharm Group posts strong profits in Q3

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Lavipharm Group posted higher financial results on consolidated sales as well as consolidated earnings before taxes and after minority interests level in the third quarter of the year.
Specifically, consolidated earnings before taxes and after minority interests increased by 21.8 percent to 4.7 million Euro compared with 3.9 million Euro in the corresponding period of 2001. Consolidated own sales reached 160 million Euro compared to 141.5 million at the corresponding period of 2001, an increas...


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EFG Eurobank Ergasias changes structure

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EFG Eurobank Ergasias recently announced a series of changes in its organisational structure aimed to benefit from the introduction of Altamira integrated technological platform in the bank. The reform plan was drafted in cooperation with Boston Consulting Group, one of the biggest and more credible consultant groups in the world, ANA reported.
Under the plan, EFG Eurobank Ergasias' retail banking sector will incorporate the bank's branch network to include two types of branches, "universal" a...


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Bank of Greece warns on inflation rate impact

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Bank of Greece Governor Nikos Garganas has warned over the impact of a rising inflation rate in the economy and urged the government to take anti-inflationary measures.
Speaking to reporters, after a meeting with Prime Minister Costas Simitis, quoted by ANA, the Greek central bank head noted that if a current divergence between the domestic and European Union inflation rates were to continue in the long-term, Greece could suffer series consequences both in its growth rates and the employment s...


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OTE moving forward with Romtelecom capital rise

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Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation OTE and the Romanian Ministry of Telecommunications and Information Technology signed a memorandum of understanding last month regarding an increase in OTE's interest in the capital of Romtelecom.
Citing a company release, OTE recently announced that it would provide the international financial community and media with details regarding these transactions and OTE's plans to turn around Romtelecom's performance at the time of its third quarter 2002 resul...


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Cyprus to close last EU chapters

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Cyprus' accession negotiations with the European Union are expected to wrap up this Tuesday (December 3), with the closing of the two last chapters of the acquis communautaire that currently remain open, namely Agriculture and Budget, CNA reported last week. This was the conclusion of a meeting in Brussels between Cyprus' Chief Negotiator George Vassiliou and the Danish presidency of the EU and officials of the European Commission....


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Cyprus ranks high on global economy stability

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A recent economy forecast for next year, published by The Wall Street Journal, placed Cyprus 22nd in the world with regard to the prospects of its economy and macroeconomic stability. According to the US daily, Cyprus scores well with regard to its policies in the banking and financial services business, the level of salaries and prices, guaranteeing the right to own personal property, legislation governing the activities of foreign companies and fighting financial crime. Cyprus' scoring has imp...


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CBM reports growth in Q3, future prospects slow

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The Monetary Policy Advisory Council (MPAC) of the central bank of Malta (CBM) said that though economic output increased in the third quarter, economic growth in 2003 would still be dependent on international economic conditions, Maltamedia reported last week. The council also sounded the alarm over the expanding trend in the government's fiscal stance. The council included the comment in its review of domestic economic conditions last Thursday ahead of a decision by Governor Michael C Bonello ...


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Central bank creates KAP to control bounced cheques

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During a recent news conference, central bank Director of Internal Operations Kyriacos Zigkas announced the creation of a central archive (KAP), aimed at preventing and eliminating the serious problem of returned cheques, this being apart from any legal consequences.
According to reports provided by cypria.com, last year cheques were used in 57 percent of all non-cash transactions. The amount, which accounts for 1.2 percent of all cheques issued, was returned because of insufficient funds.
A...


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Denktash nods “yes” at the last minute

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Verheugen warns Turkish Cypriots over consequences of not achieving a solution

A quick flashback to the development of both diplomatic negotiations and substantial decisions on the long-extended Cyprus issue proves it is evident that the Turkish Cypriot side has rarely presented a willingness to meet dates or present a non ambiguous stance on crucial matters.

By Zoe Kafadari

Similarly, the "yes" answer on the basis of the UN plan by the leader of Cyprus' Turkish occupied area, Rauf Den...


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TVK Q1-Q3 result down 10%, issues profit warning for Q4

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Chemicals group TVK announced its nine-month profit fell 10 percent, which was below initial estimates, according to Interfax. TVK said in its flash report that it may be in the red in the fourth quarter thanks to the declining price of polymers, while oil prices are still high due to the current political situation in the Mideast. TVK may be obligated to earmark a huge amount of money for risk provisions because of an environmental audit that has already started. The company said it has started...


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MOL says gas business will report loss in Q4

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Hungarian oil and gas company MOL said its gas business will report a loss in the last quarter of 2002, Interfax quoted CEO Gyorgy Mosonyi as saying. The company is unsure of the developments in refining margins, which depend on the end result of the Iraq crisis, he added. The gas business showed small gains during the summer, as industrial demand was high. But household consumption for the winter season will drop the average price of gas considerably, Mosonyi explained. Gas purchase prices are ...


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Zenon sets up Oroszlany plant, production to double

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Zenon, a Canadian water purification systems producer, has established a new facility in Oroszlany. Worth HUF 3 billion, the plant's membranes servicing water treatment facilities will be produced, according to MTI. Active in 11 countries worldwide, Zenon focuses on wastewater solutions by producing high-quality membranes. Zenon is not new to Hungary. The company set up a plant in Tatabanya several years ago. The new plant will help the company boost its Hungarian production capacity two-fold. T...


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Egis eyeing higher sales figures on CIS markets

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Hungarian pharmaceutical group Egis Rt said it will raise its sales by more than a quarter on CIS markets, according to Bluebull. The figure will likely top its predicted 20 percent growth in central and eastern European states, and exceed the eight percent rate Egis expects to report in Hungary in its current fiscal year, which will end September 30, 2003. The company said sales in western Europe and the US will increase by USD 1 million. Deputy CEO for Finances Laszlo Marosffy said domestic sa...


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Renault, Skoda gear up to move into Hatvan park

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The Hungarian dealers of French carmaker Renault and Czech group Skoda will move to the Hatvan industrial park, Bluebull quoted construction chief Tibor Kepe as saying. Renault expects to construct a HUF 200 million dealership which will have a staff of 30 people, he added. Skoda will set up a dealership in the park and its staff will total 15. Plans are expected to kick off next year....


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US investors mull Hungarian investments

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US investors attending business seminars on Hungary in the states of New York and New Jersey have expressed an interest in participating in Hungarian company sell-offs, such as Postabank, metals group Dunaferr and oil gas company MOL, according to MTI.
Istvan Csillag, minister of Economics and Transport, told a news conference that several New Jersey-based pharmaceutical and biotech companies are willing to spend money in Hungarian projects, such as production and R&D. Csillag noted the managem...


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Tax code amendments get parliamentary approval

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Amendments to the Hungarian tax code have been approved by parliament, Interfax said in a report citing MTI. The package's new tax rates and rules will come into force on January 1, 2003. Finance Minister Csaba Laszlo said the government's initial plan was to cut the overall tax burden by about HUF 250 billion.
Interfax said no changes will be made to the income tax rates, which are at the 20 percent, 30 percent and 40 percent brackets. The lowest bracket was capped at yearly incomes of HUF 650...


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Telephone and Cable sees Q3 profit of USD 4.2 mln

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Hungarian Telephone and Cable Corp. (HTCC) posted a third-quarter profit of USD 4.2 million compared to a USD 1.6 million loss in the same period of 2001, Interfax reported. The Hungarian telephone operator now goes by the name of Hungarotel Rt. The third-quarter figure brings profits for the first nine months to USD 13.4 million. Higher operating profit, interest expense cuts and a bigger forex gain helped put the company in the black.
HTCC's bottom line dropped by almost 39 percent to USD 5.6...


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Jarai says no need to boost Hungary’s economic growth

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Hungary's economic growth does not need to be expanded right now, central bank Governor Zsigmond Jarai said. According to him, the growth rate is actually too high considering the global environment, according to local reports. The issue at hand is not the rate but the growth's structure, Jarai explained. Hungary's current growth is "generated by the expansion of domestic demand, large wage increases not based on a matching development in performance, and by the fiscal deficit," he said.
Concer...


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MKB predicts 50% climb in retail loans stock

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The Hungarian Foreign Trade Bank (MKB) announced its stock of retail loans will be about 45-50 percent higher in 2003, while corporate loans will expand by 18-19 percent, Interfax quoted CEO Sandor Patyi as telling the daily Napi Gazdasag. According to Patyi, the retail loans growth will ease by the second half of next year. However, growth will reach some 50 percent in any case, he added. Apart from home loans, vehicle financing will be instrumental in pushing up growth by nearly a quarter. "Th...


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Electro World unit eyeing network expansion

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Electro World Kft, a subsidiary of the UK-based electronics group Dixons Plc, announced it will maintain its expansion plan and open two new stores in 2003. The company inaugurated its second store in Hungary last month, according to BBJ. "We will open a new store on a plot near the Cora hypermarket in Budakalasz next spring," Electro World country manager Peter Sebestyin was quoted as saying. "And the third store will be followed by another in the second half of the year." Sebestyin did not rev...


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MTD gears up for bigger investment in Hungary

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MTD, a US-based garden machinery and tractor maker, is prepared to expand its Hungarian network, MTD Hungaria chief executive Janos Kosztyu said in a statement, cited by BBJ. "MTD is also mulling the transfer of its German operations to Hungary," sources were quoted as saying. The Hungarian arm reported a net profit of HUF 16.5 billion in 2001. This year's figure will increase by a tenth, the company said....


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Henkel Hungary CEO to leave post, Deak to come in

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Henkel Hungary Kft, a domestic household detergent and cosmetics maker, will be getting a new chief executive. Istvan Fekete, CEO of Henkel Hungary for 13 years, announced his resignation and will be replaced incumbent economics manager Ferenc Deak effective January 2003. Fekete will take up a position on the board of supervisors....


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Operators still waiting to roll out UMTS

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The wait by three Polish mobile operators to roll out UMTS network could be nearing an end as services have now been introduced which could prove to be the final technology that users need. On the request of the mobile operators, telecom and post regulator URTiP earlier this year postponed the 2004 start date of commercial UMTS to the beginning of 2005. The next few years may prove 3G, or UMTS, technology unnecessary as soon as anticipated with new services which include multimedia messaging ser...


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Poland’s Kolodko notes plan aimed at filling budget gap

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Following criticism after the rejection of the tax amnesty bill by the Constitutional Tribunal, Polish Finance Minister Grzegorz Kolodko has recommended closing a 1.3 billion zloty (324 million Euro) gap in the 2003 budget draft with higher revenues from the National Bank of Poland's net profit.
The rejection by the Constitutional Tribunal last Wednesday means that next year's budget of the ministry's tax amnesty bill, which had been expected to raise such a sum, will be 600 million zlotys shor...


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Kofola looks to the past as it moves forward

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Home-grown Czech cola producer Kofola, at end-September, regained domestic control upon the purchase by local company Santa Napoje of its trademark and production rights to the drink from US firm Ivax. The company appeared to have lost its zest a few years ago, but is now fighting to reclaim a large share of the domestic market. Furthermore, it is also looking to expand in neighbouring countries. However, the Krnov-based Santa Napoje is not new to market, having produced the drink under licence ...


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Invesmart now majority owner of Union Group

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Shareholders of Union Group, 75 percent owner of Union banka, have transferred their majority stake to Italian financial group Invesmart, Union banka spokesman Josef Rericha said.
The central bank approved the new owner's entry in Union banka in October, following the May signing by Invesmart of a contract for the purchase of 70 percent of Union banka shares from Union Group for 2.833 billion Czech crowns.
The Italians, together with the Ostrava-based bank, will also get Union Group's addition...


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Cesky Telecom sale in doubt as government suspends vote

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Prompting speculation that the deal could ultimately be scrapped, the Czech government week before last once again delayed a vote regarding the sale of Cesky Telecom.
Just before the delay was announced, the consortium comprised of TDC and Deutsche Bank, shortlisted for the purchase of a 51 percent stake in the Czech Republic's national incumbent, submitted a request for a cut of 10 percent in the previously agreed upon amount of 1.82 billion Euro. In the event the government decides to proceed...


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Radio Twist looks to end dispute with Slovak Telecom

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Radio Twist and Slovak Telecom representatives inked a deal that will help bring an end to a commercial dispute between the radio station and Radiokomunikacie, a radio network operator controlled by the telecom company, according to local reports. Slovak Telecom spokeswoman Gabriela Nemkyova was quoted as saying the two parties concurred to stop all lawsuits and resolve the problem jointly. Problems started five years ago when Twist authorities said the station's broadcast was plugged because of...


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Unemployment drops to record low in October

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Slovakia reported a 16.44 percent rate of unemployment in October, which was the lowest ever in a three-year period, according to local reports. The country benefited from strong economic growth, which helped create new jobs. Slovakia's jobless rate was between 3.03 percent (as seen in one Bratislava district) to more than a third in Rimavska Sobota (eastern Slovakia)....


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Raiffeisen CEE purchase of Stollwerck unit final

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Stollwerck AD, a German candy maker, and Austrian venture capital investor Raiffeisen Private Equity Fund Management (RPEM) announced they regard as final the purchase of Stollwerck Budpaest Kft by Raiffeisen CEE Private Equity Fund L.P, BBJ quoted RPEM Budapest Director Viktoria Zombory as saying. Raiffeisen CEE's arm Tirasz-Perry Kft obtained the Hungarian subsidiary of Stollwerck....


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