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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-06-27
From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cyprus-mail.com/>
Thursday, June 27, 2002
 Companies could be forced to return £500 million to investors over failed listingsBy George Psyllides
COMPANIES which were not listed on the stock market (CSE) could be forced to return £500 million to investors according to a bill discussed before the House Finance Committee yesterday.
Thirty of these companies have since withdrawn their applications for listing and around £300 million have been absorbed through takeovers and mergers with companies already listed on the CSE, Investors' Association (PASEHA) Chairman Demetris Hadjipapas told the committee.
Hadjipapas warned that a special provision should be included in the bill to prevent companies from refusing to return the money because it has already been absorbed.
PASEHA said they agreed with the bill tabled by DIKO deputy Nicos Cleanthous, though the CSE and the public companies' association warned of the possible knock-on effects on the market if the companies are forced to pay up huge sums immediately.
The bill provides for companies to be obliged to return the money "at the latest within seven days from the day it has been demanded with a six per cent interest calculable from the day it was first paid to the company".
Cleanthous said these companies "should have known they would have to return the money if they were not listed" and should not have invested it elsewhere.
He added the bill was necessary to do justice to all those who paid money without being able to get anything in return.
The Chairman of the CSE board, Pavlos Savvides, said there had not been any new applications for listings in the past two years and that, from the old applications, 19 companies had received money for shares.
Three out of the 19 have since been listed on the CSE while the rest are being examined individually and their assessment is expected to be complete by August, Pavlides said.
Finance Ministry representative Frixos Sorokos said his ministry had not been given sufficient time to study the bill, adding he would inform the committee on the government's position at a later date.
However, Sorokos also warned of the danger of causing problems to companies which had applied for listing recently and whose examination had been delayed.
These companies might have already invested the money they had received for shares, Sorokos said.
He added the bill should stipulate clearly who would be held liable to return the money if the companies had been taken over or had merged.
The four big parties have initially agreed with the bill's philosophy, but will take a formal stance later.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002
 Government 'closely monitoring' Pyla situationBy George Psyllides
THE GOVERNMENT said yesterday it was closely watching Turkish actions over the construction of a road connecting the occupied areas with the mixed village of Pyla in violation of the buffer zone.
Work on the road has temporarily been halted after UN intervention prompted by strong protests from the government who said the Turkish action would be a violation of the status quo if it was not stopped.
On Saturday, Defence Minister Socratis Hasikos said work had stopped around 300 metres short of the buffer zone, though the equipment remained in the area.
Hasikos added, however, that, according to his information, the Turkish side had stopped work for only 10 days.
Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said yesterday there had not been any new development on the matter.
"There is nothing new and there is nothing I want to say other than that the government is monitoring the issue very closely," Papapetrou said.
On Tuesday, the Turkish Cypriot authorities said they had been shocked by the Greek Cypriot reaction over the issue as the road had been planned for the past four years.
An announcement from the 'ministry of foreign affairs and defence' said the project was not military, but entirely civilian.
It was aimed to provide transport to people who wished to travel from Pyla to the north without having to cross through British bases territory, the announcement said.
Tension was been defused last week after UNFICYP's prompt action to stop work on the road, which would need to violate the buffer zone in order to reach Pyla.
This would be an infringement of the 1974 ceasefire agreement and the government views the Turkish action as a way of creating tension ahead of the island's imminent accession to the European Union.
Two years ago, Turkish troops advanced around 400 metres in the Strovilia area of the Famagusta district, which borders the British bases.
The advance has put nine Greek Cypriots behind Turkish lines but despite repeated appeals to the UN, Turkish occupation forces have remained in the area until today.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002
 CY announces £2.4 million profit for 2001, in spite of September 11By George Psyllides
CYPRUS Airways (CY) yesterday announced a profit of £2.4 million for 2001 with a call to the government to reduce its shareholding to no more than 51 per cent.
Speaking ahead of the airline's 55th AGM, the Chairman of the Board, Haris Loizides, said profits before tax for 2001 were £4.1 million compared to £5.6 million in 2000.
Profit after taxation for 2001 was reduced to £2.4 million compared to £3.9 million the year before.
Loizides said the company should be free to operate on a on a commercial basis with competitive criteria and suggested "the immediate cut down of the state's involvement to 51 per cent at a first stage, without ruling out a further decrease" in the government's share, which currently stands at 68 per cent.
He added that the group's total income for 2001, excluding the duty free shop company, had chalked up an increase of 10 per cent, reaching £178.3 million compared to £162 million for 2000.
Loizides said it would be difficult to make any secure forecasts for 2002 because "tourist movement was expected to be down, though the actual decrease could not be defined due to last minute reservations".
"Tourist movement is affected by the political instability in the Middle East and the Gulf," Loizides said.
Despite the negative developments, CY is pursuing its efforts to change the situation and support the island's tourism by increasing available seats in an attempt to cover the gaps left by other airlines, he added.
According to the group's figures, by April 2002, CY's market share was expected to have increased by five per cent to 43 per cent, while the number of passengers who used the airline until May would be up by 5.7 per cent.
Loizides noted that the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States had cost airline companies $12 billion in damages, the last straw in a plight that had been evident for a long time.
CY had not been immune to the tragic events, and was being forced to secure insurance coverage at huge cost without any state support in order to keep its aircraft flying, Loizides said.
"Nevertheless our reaction to the crisis was immediate and decisive and we enforced an emergency plan to cope with the extremely difficult conditions that developed," he said.
Concerning the renewal of the airline's fleet, Loizides said the project's financing had the support of European organisations without state guarantees, with CY succeeding in securing a very low loan cost.
"This proved that CY is highly esteemed for its authority and reliability, something that makes us especially proud," Loizides said.
In a few months, CY would boast a modern fleet of 16 aircraft selected according to the needs of the airline's flight network and the best technical and financial specifications "ready to become perhaps the most effective weapon in the competition battle".
CY's subsidiary, Eurocypria, which in the first year operated four aircraft, has achieved a 30 per cent increase in passengers and from early next year will add four leased Boeing 737-800s to its livery.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002
 Concern after squaddies in involved in Yermasoyia brawlBy Alex Mita
YERMASOYIA Mayor Panicos Louroutsiatis has expressed concern over the growing number of fights and incidents that he says are sparked by off duty British soldiers.
Louroutsiatis was commenting on an incident at the weekend in which five British soldiers came to blows with a group of foreign students and Limassol youths.
"They are our best customers in the tourist area but lately they - the squaddies - have often been involved in street brawls," he said.
An article in Politis even reported that the British Bases had cancelled all personnel passes for one week pending further investigation.
However, an SBA spokesman yesterday told the Cyprus Mail that the only men confined to quarters were those under investigation over the specific incident.
"Some of the men who are under investigation aren't allowed to go down but the vast majority are," he said.
"A temporary ban on the area was placed on Saturday and Sunday night, and then the men were allowed access to Yermasoyia, except to one establishment."
A CID spokesman told the Cyprus Mail that the fight took place outside the Moneypennies Pub on George I Street, when a British soldier, accompanied by four other men, came to blows with two Lebanese students. The fight escalated and soon other people joined in.
The soldier was admitted to hospital with minor injuries on his face caused by "a sharp instrument".
Two Lebanese students were also taken to hospital with broken noses and teeth. The CID said further investigation was being carried out to determine the exact cause of the incident.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002
 Cabbies pledge to step up actionBy Alex Mita
TAXI drivers belonging to the Urban Taxi Drivers' Federation (POAT) have vowed to convince every cab driver in Cyprus to go on strike, after the Licensing Authorities announced they would issue over 150 new professional driving licences yesterday.
Over 200 Taxi drivers gathered in protest outside the Licensing Authority offices while the meeting was taking place yesterday morning, chanting "traitors" and "don't bother coming to Limassol for votes."
An angry Kyriacos Moustakas, co-ordinator of the POVEK union to which POAT is affiliated, told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that the cabbies would regroup at Kofinou to discuss further measures.
"We are planning to go to the airport to push other taxi drivers to join us, " he said.
"All of Nicosia's drivers have agreed to adopt industrial action and we will urge others to do the same. We won't stop until we get our way."
POAT members went on strike on Tuesday demanding that the Licensing Authority cancel all recent applications for professional cab driver licences, claiming there were too many taxis on the island already.
The union claims the taxi sector is already suffering due to the massive drop in tourism this year, adding that to issue more licences to taxi drivers would wreck the business of the 1,200 existing urban taxis on the island.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002