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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-08-31

Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cynews.com/>


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Tuesday, August 31, 1999

CONTENTS

  • [01] BoC return sets market alightBy Hamza HendawiTHE BANK OF Cyprus made its eagerly-awaited comeback to the Cyprus Stock Exchange yesterday, and, what a comeback it was.Titles from the island's largest bank set the market on fire, driving up both the all-share index and volume to levels that, 48 hours ago, no analyst could have predicted with a straight face or with any hope of keeping his job.The official all-share index soared a phenomenal 26.72 per cent, more than eight per cent higher than the record it smashed for the biggest one-day increase. Volume was a dream-like 117.48 million, nearly 50 million more than the previous all-time high registered on July 27.Yesterday's huge volume is likely to compound the problem facing brokerages in clearing a backlog of transactions within deadlines set by the Cyprus Stock Exchange. In a gesture of goodwill, traders said, bourse officials yesterday rescinded the suspension of at least one brokerage that had failed to meet a clearing deadline so as not to miss the brisk business generated by the return of the Bank of Cyprus.Yesterday's trade took the market's gains on the year to a mouth-watering 426.50 per cent, a figure that should cause acute embarrassment for the doomsayers who warned of a disastrous crash when the index was up 200 per cent on the year early last month.The Cyprus Stock Exchange has sought to inject a note of caution in the frenzy and euphoria that has surrounded the market for months. In a statement released late Friday, it advised investors not to take for granted that investment in equities would necessarily yield profit.But if what the Cyprus Stock Exchange had in mind was to discourage potential investors from taking the plunge, it most certainly failed in view of yesterday's impressive showing."It has been a very good day," said Yiannos Andronikou of Suphire Stockbrokers. "Tomorrow will be just as good because there is tremendous demand for shares," he told the Cyprus Mail.The banking sector's sub-index, to which the Bank of Cyprus returned yesterday after a three-week break to allow for a 2-for-1 split, rose by 37.64 per cent to close at 707.78, nearly 200 points above Friday's close. Volume attracted by the banks' shares totalled 70.93 million.The Bank of Cyprus shares, which stood at 12.80 on their last pre-split day three Fridays ago, opened trade yesterday at 13, but hovered at lower levels until they closed at 10.95 on a volume of 47.14 million. The bank's 1999-2003 warrants also had an exceptionally good day, rising to 8.59 apiece on a volume of 11.78 million.The Popular Bank, which carried out its own 2-for-1 split earlier in the summer, rose yesterday by 1.30 to close at 12.62 on volume of 16.55 million, while Hellenic Bank resumed its meteoric rise to close at 15.30, up 66.50 cents on Friday's close.The interest in Popular Bank yesterday was partly fuelled by a rumour that the bank had bought six branches belonging to the Midland Bank in Athens to bolster its retail banking network in the Greek capital.Traders said many of the buy-orders that has been waiting for the Bank of Cyprus' return could not be executed yesterday due to heavy demand, and that the carry-over orders would most likely produce volume levels close to yesterday's for the remainder of the week."We have been expecting volumes of 100 million every day starting September for at least three months," said Andronikou of Suphire.In a separate development, reports circulating in the market yesterday spoke of brokers intending to raise their commission effective tomorrow. There was no immediate confirmation of the report, but the managing-director of one brokerage said his firm was indeed raising its commission to 1 per cent from 0.75 per cent on sellers and buyers. He said he could not speak for other brokerages.He said the rise was essential to cover the spiralling costs resulting from the recent increase in volume and the need to clear transactions swiftly under the threat of suspension from the stock exchange."We've recruited more people, we are working over-time and over weekends to meet deadlines for clearing transactions," said the brokerage boss, who did not want to be named.
  • [02] Disy rift widens
  • [03] Archbishop says Greek Cypriots could not have carried out Tekke attack
  • [04] Turkish Cypriot shot in Limassol
  • [05] Shipping department seeks clean deck ahead of EU entry
  • [06] Police investigate Sri Lankan rape claim
  • [07] Couple beaten up after surprising thieves
  • [08] Work to begin soon on second desalination plant
  • [09] Man killed as car plunges 10 metres into ditch

  • [01] BoC return sets market alightBy Hamza HendawiTHE BANK OF Cyprus made its eagerly-awaited comeback to the Cyprus Stock Exchange yesterday, and, what a comeback it was.Titles from the island's largest bank set the market on fire, driving up both the all-share index and volume to levels that, 48 hours ago, no analyst could have predicted with a straight face or with any hope of keeping his job.The official all-share index soared a phenomenal 26.72 per cent, more than eight per cent higher than the record it smashed for the biggest one-day increase. Volume was a dream-like 117.48 million, nearly 50 million more than the previous all-time high registered on July 27.Yesterday's huge volume is likely to compound the problem facing brokerages in clearing a backlog of transactions within deadlines set by the Cyprus Stock Exchange. In a gesture of goodwill, traders said, bourse officials yesterday rescinded the suspension of at least one brokerage that had failed to meet a clearing deadline so as not to miss the brisk business generated by the return of the Bank of Cyprus.Yesterday's trade took the market's gains on the year to a mouth-watering 426.50 per cent, a figure that should cause acute embarrassment for the doomsayers who warned of a disastrous crash when the index was up 200 per cent on the year early last month.The Cyprus Stock Exchange has sought to inject a note of caution in the frenzy and euphoria that has surrounded the market for months. In a statement released late Friday, it advised investors not to take for granted that investment in equities would necessarily yield profit.But if what the Cyprus Stock Exchange had in mind was to discourage potential investors from taking the plunge, it most certainly failed in view of yesterday's impressive showing."It has been a very good day," said Yiannos Andronikou of Suphire Stockbrokers. "Tomorrow will be just as good because there is tremendous demand for shares," he told the Cyprus Mail.The banking sector's sub-index, to which the Bank of Cyprus returned yesterday after a three-week break to allow for a 2-for-1 split, rose by 37.64 per cent to close at 707.78, nearly 200 points above Friday's close. Volume attracted by the banks' shares totalled 70.93 million.The Bank of Cyprus shares, which stood at 12.80 on their last pre-split day three Fridays ago, opened trade yesterday at 13, but hovered at lower levels until they closed at 10.95 on a volume of 47.14 million. The bank's 1999-2003 warrants also had an exceptionally good day, rising to 8.59 apiece on a volume of 11.78 million.The Popular Bank, which carried out its own 2-for- 1 split earlier in the summer, rose yesterday by 1.30 to close at 12.62 on volume of 16.55 million, while Hellenic Bank resumed its meteoric rise to close at 15.30, up 66.50 cents on Friday's close.The interest in Popular Bank yesterday was partly fuelled by a rumour that the bank had bought six branches belonging to the Midland Bank in Athens to bolster its retail banking network in the Greek capital.Traders said many of the buy- orders that has been waiting for the Bank of Cyprus' return could not be executed yesterday due to heavy demand, and that the carry-over orders would most likely produce volume levels close to yesterday's for the remainder of the week."We have been expecting volumes of 100 million every day starting September for at least three months," said Andronikou of Suphire.In a separate development, reports circulating in the market yesterday spoke of brokers intending to raise their commission effective tomorrow. There was no immediate confirmation of the report, but the managing-director of one brokerage said his firm was indeed raising its commission to 1 per cent from 0.75 per cent on sellers and buyers. He said he could not speak for other brokerages.He said the rise was essential to cover the spiralling costs resulting from the recent increase in volume and the need to clear transactions swiftly under the threat of suspension from the stock exchange."We've recruited more people, we are working over-time and over weekends to meet deadlines for clearing transactions," said the brokerage boss, who did not want to be named.

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    Tuesday, August 31, 1999

    [02] Disy rift widens

    By Martin Hellicar

    EFFORTS by Disy deputy Rikkos Erotokritou to heal a bitter reshuffle rift within the ruling party seemed to be floundering yesterday.

    On Sunday, party leader Nicos Anastassiades banished deputy Prodromos Prodromou from the Disy political bureau. The deputy's "crime" had been to make public his concerns about how many seats had been given to junior government partners the United Democrats (UD) in last week's cabinet reshuffle.

    Erotokritou said he'd had "calm, productive and constructive" discussions with Prodromou and fellow reshuffle dissenter Demetris Sillouris yesterday. He said his aim was not to gag Prodromou and Sillouris but rather to stop the party squabbling in public.

    But Prodromou made a nonsense of his fellow-deputy's endeavours yesterday, launching a fresh public attack on Anastassiades, who he said had gone "beyond the pale."

    The Disy leader has labelled Prodromou as "self-serving" and charged him with "parroting" opposition party rhetoric. The catalyst for the attack was Prodromou suggesting President Clerides's reshuffle appointments showed he was veering towards following a Cyprus problem policy akin to that of UD leader George Vassiliou. Clerides ousted Vassiliou from office in 1993 by promising a more hard-line Cyprus problem policy.

    UD men Michalis Papapetrou and Frixos Savvides secured the Government spokesman and Health Ministry posts respectively, while fellow party member Costas Themistocleous held on to the Agriculture portfolio. Vassiliou heads Cyprus's EU accession talks team.

    "I tried to keep tones down, to be silent even, but I cannot be quiet when I see the party sinking, and when some people think we can move forward through shouting, aggression and threats," Prodromou said, pointing the finger at Anastassiades.

    He accused the Disy leader of lying about the way he had been expelled from the political bureau.

    "The party president, Mr Anastassiades, goes on television and announces that I am banished from the political bureau. Is this right? Is this any way for the leader of the largest party to behave? Then, in an attempt to cover up his slip-up, he says he did not break the news on air but had told me by telephone previously -- well, nothing of the sort happened," an irate Prodromou said.

    He welcomed Erotokritou's initiative but insisted the rift was not about any personal differences he had with Anastassiades, but rather about "principles."

    "It is an matter of being free to discuss things when this is necessary and useful," Prodromou said, suggesting Anastassiades was guilty of suppressing those who did not see eye to eye with him.

    Prodromou said he would be seeking an audience with Clerides is an effort to clear the air.

    The party executive were called to an extraordinary meeting late yesterday, with the Anastassiades-Prodromou spat expected to dominate discussions.

    Disy vice president Panayiotis Demetriou has also been trying to patch up the rift, while main opposition party Akel have been doing their best to fan the flames.

    Akel have claimed Disy struck a secret deal with Vassiliou to back him to succeed 80-year-old Clerides in the 2003 elections. This was why the UD had been given so many cabinet seats, Akel said.

    Vassiliou yesterday dismissed these suggestions as "unprecedented fantasy."

    No such issue had ever been tabled with Disy, he insisted.

    "Neither has there been any such discussion, nor have I shown any such interest," the former President said.

    But Edek leader Vassos Lyssarides did his best to pour salt on the Disy wounds, saying he saw plenty to suggest Clerides was softening his Cyprus problem stance.

    He singled out the appointment of Disy deputy Socratis Hasikos to the Defence ministry as evidence for this. While owner of Alithianewspaper, Hasikos was known for his stance against the common defence dogma military pact with Greece -- a cornerstone of Clerides's Cyprus problem policy.

    Hasikos, who yesterday paid an official visit on Archbishop Chrysostomos, stated the dogma was here to stay -- a statement he has made on an almost daily basis since his appointment.

    Chrysostomos, for his part, said the new minister had assured him the dogma would continue and had expressed the hope it would one day become an "offensive" rather than a "defensive" pact.

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    Tuesday, August 31, 1999

    [03] Archbishop says Greek Cypriots could not have carried out Tekke attack

    By Jean Christou

    ARCHBISHOP Chrysostomos said yesterday he did not believe Greek Cypriots could have been responsible for Saturday's arson attack at the Hala Sultan Tekke mosque in Larnaca.

    Speaking after a meeting with new Defence Minister Socrates Hasikos, the Archbishop said he believed the attack had been carried out by the Turkish side to justify their neglect of Greek Orthodox churches in the occupied areas.

    "Personally I at least don't believe that Greeks would have so little intelligence to do this, therefore I believe it is probably people who were put up to it the Turks to justify their own ransacking of churches in the north," Chrysostomos told journalists.

    The Cyprus government has long complained about the theft of thousands of icons and other treasures from some 500 churches in the north.

    Many churches have been turned into stables or left to crumble, while graveyards have been desecrated.

    Attacks on mosques in the free areas are rare, and Saturday's arson attack at the Hala Sultan Tekke brought swift condemnation from the government and politicians.

    President Glafcos Clerides ordered a full investigation into the attack at the Tekke, which is sacred to the island's Turkish Cypriots.

    A group calling itself the "Pancyprian Organisation of Cypriot Fighters" has claimed responsibility for the attack. Police said the fire which was set in four different places in the mosque caused some damage to a tapestry but burned out before it could spread.

    Yesterday police issued two search warrants in connection with the attack following an anonymous telephone tip-off, government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said.

    He said police had traced the location of the anonymous call. Asked if it was possible that the Turkish side could have been responsible for the attack, Papapetrou said nothing could be ruled out.

    Papapetrou said three or four people had been seen leaving the area following the attack.

    "There is some security on these buildings and indeed something was noticed by the guard who was there, but I'm sure you realise there are many such monuments and it's not a simple matter to guard them," Papapetrou said.

    New Communications and Works Minister Averof Neophytou visited the Tekke yesterday morning to assess the damage, along with the Director General of the Antiquities Department. No structural damage was caused, Neophytou said.

    "Fortunately, the damage is not significant and instructions have been given to repair it. We believe that in a few days it will be fully restored, " Neophytou said.

    "Our visit has another side. We want to send a clear message that we respect the cultural heritage of Muslims and of anyone else just as much as we respect our own."

    Justice Minister Nicos Koshis visited the mosque on Sunday and said the government would show "no mercy" to those responsible for the attack.

    He also said that although police officers already guarded the site, the government would now consider the installation of an alarm system for extra security.

    House President Spyros Kyprianou said that if it was proved that the arson had been carried out by Greek Cypriots, then it would be the "most treasonous act" against Cyprus since the 1974 coup.

    "Wherever it comes from, it is a deplorable provocation," he said.

    Hala Sultan Tekke was built in memory of Umm Haram, an aunt of the Prophet Mohammed who is said to be buried in the shrine.

    The site is sacred to Turkish Cypriots who cross from the Turkish- controlled areas twice a year under a UN-backed agreement.

    Turkish Cypriot papers yesterday criticised the attack and called on Greek Cypriot politicians to apologise. The chairman of the Turkish Cypriot Religious Foundation Evkaf, Taner Dervis, said the attack would be reported to the UN. Dervis said the attack had been carried out for the purposes of ethnic cleansing.

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    Tuesday, August 31, 1999

    [04] Turkish Cypriot shot in Limassol

    A TURKISH Cypriot man living in Limassol survived a gun attack for the third time on Sunday.

    The shooting took place at 2.15am on Sunday when an unknown assailant fired a shotgun at Kemal Mustafa Kasapoglou, 45, as he was opening his garden gate.

    Kasapoglou, a butcher, was slightly injured to the right arm and right armpit and was discharged after receiving first aid at Limassol hospital.

    Police said he had been the victim of a similar attack in July, again outside his home in Limassol's Turkish Cypriot quarter, but that time with an automatic weapon. He was not hurt.

    Kasapoglou escaped unhurt from a first attempt two years ago, again involving an automatic weapon.

    His boat was also set alight several months ago.

    Police have focused their investigations on the local underworld scene. The Turkish Cypriot has in the past been arrested on cannabis charges and is suspected of involvement in "feuds" with underworld figures.

    Police said yesterday they were investigating whether Sunday's attack might be connected to the Saturday arrest of another Limassol Turkish Cypriot on drug charges.

    Kasapoglou, however, insisted that the attacks had political motives. He was unable to describe his assailants.

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    Tuesday, August 31, 1999

    [05] Shipping department seeks clean deck ahead of EU entry

    By Jim Kapsis

    THE DEPARTMENT of Merchant Shipping reported yesterday that nearly half the Cyprus-flagged ships it had inspected in the second quarter of this year fell below government standards.

    According to the official announcement, a total of 55 out of 119 vessels were found to have deficiencies. The inspections were carried out by the Merchant Shipping Department and local inspectors stationed at ports around the world. The Department conducts both regular and random inspections of its fleet throughout the year.

    The deficient vessels were not permitted to sail until either they had rectified their problems or switched registries to another flag. Three of the 55 vessels reportedly withdrew from the Cyprus Registry rather than comply with government standards.

    The number of inspections between April and June of this year was up by 25, 3 per cent. The government is currently trying to upgrade the safety and pollution standards of its fleet, as well as to ensure the quality of the living and working conditions on board Cypriot-flagged ships. This new regulatory initiative reflects the government's desire to clean the decks of the Cypriot shipping industry before Cyprus joins the European Union.

    Asked whether tighter regulations might not lead to a fall in the size of the Cypriot fleet, Serghios Serghiou, a spokesman for the Department of Merchant Shipping, replied that "our aim is not to increase our size, but to improve our quality."

    Cyprus is one of a handful of countries with an open shipping registry which permits foreign vessels to sail under its national flag. Other countries with open registries include Panama, Liberia, Malta, and the Bahamas. Open registries are attractive to foreign merchants who wish to avoid the tighter regulations imposed by their home ports.

    According to Sergiou, 80 per cent of the current Cypriot fleet is of Cypriot national origin. This number, however, is likely to increase as regulations tighten.

    As of March 1999, the Cyprus merchant fleet ranked sixth in the world, with more than 2,600 ships and a gross tonnage exceeding 26 million. Shipping revenues account for approximately 2,5 per cent of Cyprus GDP.

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    Tuesday, August 31, 1999

    [06] Police investigate Sri Lankan rape claim

    POLICE are investigating allegations by a 46-year-old Sri Lankan housemaid that she was abducted and raped at knifepoint on Sunday morning in Nicosia.

    The unnamed woman said she was walking along Demosthenis Severis Avenue in Nicosia at around 8.15am when a man unknown to her, driving a brown pick-up truck, stopped and offered to take her wherever she was going.

    According to police, the woman said she refused the offer but the man took out a knife forcing her into the car. She claims he then drove her to an abandoned house near the Nicosia District Court where he allegedly raped her.

    Afterwards, the woman said her attacker left her at the house and she walked barefoot to the CyTA building, where she informed her compatriots what had happened and they took her to the police station where she lodged a complaint.

    According to police, some of the woman's personal items were found at the abandoned house along with a used condom. The evidence is being examined by forensic experts. The woman also had scratches on her arms, police said.

    The alleged attacker is said to be around 45 years old, dark with a moustache and well built. CID Nicosia are investigating.

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    Tuesday, August 31, 1999

    [07] Couple beaten up after surprising thieves

    A GROUP of youths beat up a 60-year-old man and his wife after the couple tried to prevent them from stealing car parts, police said yesterday.

    Iacovos Sophrianou told police that at around 2am on Sunday, he and his wife saw a dark coloured Mazda 323 stop in a field next to their Limassol home.

    He said that six young men then got out of the car and began removing exterior parts from Sophrianou's two cars, which were parked in the field.

    When Sophrianou and his wife Kyriaki, 55, ran out to stop the youths, they were attacked. Sophrianou lost two teeth and his wife sustained a hand injury.

    They were taken to hospital and released after receiving first aid.

    The youths escaped with the car parts while police are continuing investigations. The value of the parts had not yet been calculated, police said yesterday.

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    Tuesday, August 31, 1999

    [08] Work to begin soon on second desalination plant

    WORK on the island's second major desalination plant, outside Larnaca, is to begin "soon", Government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou announced yesterday.

    Papapetrou said a contract had now been signed for construction of a plant near Larnaca airport. The plant would be completed within 75 weeks, the spokesman said.

    The government sees desalination as the solution to the island's chronic water shortage problems.

    A plant operating at Dhekelia already provides 40,000 tonnes of fresh water a day.

    Despite strong opposition from local residents, the government has also promised to forge ahead with plans for a mobile plant at Zakaki, Limassol.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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    Tuesday, August 31, 1999

    [09] Man killed as car plunges 10 metres into ditch

    AN 82-year-old man plunged to his death in a traffic accident early yesterday morning.

    Police said pensioner Christodoulos Athanasiou died instantly when the Land Rover he was driving overturned and fell 10 meters into a ditch.

    The accident happened on a dirt road outside Panayia village near Paphos when Athanasiou lost control at the car.

    His wife Suzanna, 76, also travelling in the vehicle, was injured and hospitalised, but police yesterday said she was out of danger.


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