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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 98-09-25

Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Top police officials removed following botched hostage raid
  • [02] Pangalos to UN General Assembly: Ankara promoting Cyprus' partition
  • [03] Pangalos appears pessimistic over prospects of upcoming Antalya summit
  • [04] Greece reiterates reservations over any multinational strike in Kosovo
  • [05] Two Albanians fatally wounded in police shootout
  • [06] Gas station owner shot dead
  • [07] Papandreou: Cyprus EU prospects upset Turkey's strategy
  • [08] Maltese-flagged vessel stuck off Peloponnese
  • [09] First-ever Ombudsman's office in Greece opens
  • [10] Parliament on the Internet
  • [11] Heroin smuggling arrests
  • [12] Court rules civil aviation employees' strike illegal
  • [13] Civil aviation employees' strike leads to OA flight cancellations
  • [14] Gov't launches subscriptions for privatisation bonds today
  • [15] Industrial output, construction rise sharply
  • [16] Gov't formally submits bourse reform bill to parliament
  • [17] Finance ministry to auction Dr 200 bln of T-bills
  • [18] Greek stocks jump following Wall St. hopes of US rate cut
  • [19] Listed Fourlis announces expansion plan
  • [20] Parliament committee okays reduction in tax fines
  • [21] Informatics trade exhibition in Thessaloniki

  • [01] Top police officials removed following botched hostage raid

    Athens 25/09/1998 (ANA)

    An urgent preliminary investigation was called yesterday to examine the circumstances surrounding Wednesday night's hostage drama in downtown Athens, which ended in a badly botched raid by police.

    The unprecedented incident - the detonation of a handgrenade planted on one of the hostages by a Romanian outlaw - left two people critically wounded, and another 10 with various degrees of injuries, most high-ranking police officers.

    In the aftermath, the chief of Greek Police Athanasios Vassilopoulos offered his resignation, which was accepted. In addition, the head of police forces in Attica, Yiannis Georgakopoulos, and the director of security, Theodoros Papafilis, were dismissed . All three men were injured in the blast.

    Public Order Minister George Romeos announced the decisions after meeting Prime Minister Costas Simitis. The Greek premier rejected the resignations tendered by Mr. Romeos and the ministry's secretary-general, Yiannis Papadogiannakis.

    Mr. Romeos had returned yesterday from a meeting in Brussels.

    A new head of police will be appointed today, when the Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defence (KYSEA) meets.

    Pandemonium broke out after police commandos stormed a first-floor apartment where 27-year-old Sorin Matei was holding three hostages, threatening to detonate a grenade. In a late night press interview, Mr. Papadogiannakis said police stormed the apartm ent in the belief that the grenade was fake.

    Matei, who was under the influence of heroin, pulled the pin from the grenade and attached it to the trousers of one of the hostages, Amalia Ginaki, 25. When police stormed the apartment, Matei pushed the girl towards policemen, simultaneously exploding the grenade.

    The woman was listed as being in a critical condition at the Red Cross hospital after surgery which resulted in the amputation of her right leg. She has also undergone severe damages to her abdominal area. One of the police officers injured in the blast lost his left leg.

    Matei received treatment for his injuries and is being kept under armed guard. Also hospitalised were the girl's mother and her fiance. Ms Ginaki's younger brother had been released by Matei earlier. Police in Attica launched a manhunt for Matei earl ier this month after he disappeared after taking a policeman hostage.

    The policeman was released in Piraeus after an hours-long siege.

    After negotiations with police, the Romanian man was allowed to drive a high-jacked car in the direction of Piraeus, freeing the policeman, abandoning his car and taking a taxi.

    The preliminary inquiry is expected to look at the circumstances surrounding the decision to raid the apartment as well as what occurred in the lead-up to Matei taking the hostages, when he was spotted in the apartment below, and the aftermath of the raid.

    The inquiry will decide whether disciplinary or criminal charges should be laid against those involved.

    It will also examine reports that prosecutor Ioannis Sakkas present as police detected Matei before he took the hostages, prevented them from using excessive force, and rang the doorbell, identifying himself and calling on Matei to give himself up.

    Meanwhile, Matei's girlfriend, Penelope Athanasopoulou, whose ground-floor apartment Matei sought refuge in before climbing the skylight to take the four hostages on the first-floor apartment, was charged yesterday with being an accessory to a crime, and usage and provision of narcotics. She told reporters that she denied all the charges.

    Locals said Matei had been spotted visiting Athanasopoulou a number of times since his escape from police earlier this month, before police were notified of his presence in the neighbourhood.

    Gov't reaction : Prime Minister Costas Simitis expressed his condolences and support to the victims of the incident and hopes for a speedy recovery.

    Mr. Simitis also met with Justice Minister Evangelos Yiannopoulos. Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said that the government was only informed of developments when Matei had escaped from the ground-floor apartment and already taken the four peo ple hostage.

    Calling the raid "unsuccessful," Mr. Reppas said the decision for police to enter the apartment had been based on information that the grenade was a fake.

    However, he defended the reputation of the police, noting that Greek police had scored a number of successes.

    "Isolated incidents like yesterday's (Wednesday's) do not foster a sense of a lack of security in citizens," he said.

    Referring to Matei's hours-long conversation with an anchorman on SKAI television during the siege and of the presence of many reporters at the scene of the siege, Mr. Reppas, who is also press and media minister, said the media should not take over the role of public functions on the pretext of informing the public, nor obstruct the activities of the authorities.

    "The media's voraciousness was apparent yesterday," he noted, adding that the president of the National Radio and Television Council had considered interrupting the transmission of Skai's conversation between Matei and the news anchor but that it continued after the outlaw threatened the lives of the hostages if he were cut off.

    Karamanlis: 'State in dissolution' : In Syros, where he is on a tour of the Cyclades, main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis said the handling of the situation had shown "a state in dissolution".

    "The state can not provide a fundamental feeling of security for citizens...this situation can not continue," he said, expressing his grief and condolences to the victims and injured.

    ND also referred to "obvious and most serious omissions on the part of the government", assigning exclusive responsibility to the prime minister, the public order minister and the chiefs of police.

    Opposition : Communist Party of Greece (KKE) secretary-general Aleka Papariga called for the immediate resignation of the public order minister and administrative sanctions, charging that the training of security forces was mainly oriented towards dealing with social struggles rather than fighting crime.

    The Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) said the form and extent of television coverage of the tragic incident posed anew and with intensity the issue of the boundaries of responsibility and ethical rules in media coverage of such incidents .

    It further said a series of questions remained unanswered on the handling of the incident by the police.

    Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) leader Dimitris Tsovolas said the public order minister's tender of resignation, not accepted by the prime minister, was bogus, and that the word "sensitivity" was completely absent from the government's vocabulary.

    The Athens Journalists' Union (ESHEA) announced that the board of the union would confer on Monday to examine the issue of television coverage of the incident in relation to ethical rules.

    "It is not possible that media become means of transmitting criminal acts such as Matei's blackmail during yesterday's events, nor mouthpieces of police opinions, and that police officials should dictate the behavior of journalists," that ESHEA statement added.

    Athens News Agency

    [02] Pangalos to UN General Assembly: Ankara promoting Cyprus' partition

    Athens 25/09/1998 (ANA)

    Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos yesterday accused Turkey of promoting the partition of Cyprus by its intransigence instead of contributing to a just and viable solution to the island republic's protracted problem.

    "The reaction from Ankara, obediently echoed by the Turkish Cypriot leadership has been one of harsh rejection. Either in terms of a flat negation, or by putting conditions, tantamount to cancelling whatever has been so far desired by the international community, prescribed by the UN resolutions and even accepted by the Turkish Cypriot leadership themselves, " Mr. Pangalos said in his address to the 53rd United Nations' General Assembly yesterday.

    "Such an attitude of rejection is easily explained by notorious designs of the Turkish government to effect the partition of Cyprus. Mr. (Bulent) Ecevit, deputy prime minister of Turkey, has in several occasions pointed out that the Cyprus question had be en resolved, once and for all, by his country's armed forces invasion in 1974," he added.

    The past year has been "a year of stagnation and frustration. Frustrated have been the efforts of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and his special advisor Mr.Cordovez to relaunch the intercommunal talks.

    "Frustrated come back from Ankara and the occupied part of Cyprus special envoys of several countries, including members of the Security Council, aiming at unblocking the situation.

    "Frustrated remain the hopes of the European Union to lead the Turkish Cypriot together with the Greek Cypriot community in a prosperous state of Cyprus, a member of the European family," Mr. Pangalos said.

    "It is time for the international community to strongly support the UN Secretary General to fulfill his mandate, to bring the two communities to the negotiating table, to initiate a dialogue on gradual disarmament towards the complete demilitarisation of the island," he added.

    "Greece wishes to establish good neighborly relations with Turkey, based on the principles of international law and respect for international treaties, " the Greek foreign minister told the assembly referring to Greek-Turkish relations.

    "The International Court of Justice at The Hague, whose compulsory jurisdiction has been accepted by Greece, is the appropriate legal forum for the settlement of eventual problems in our relations. A positive response of Turkey to that effect would cons titute a step towards the beginning of a new period of mutual understanding," he added.

    "Greece pursues a policy promoting stability, good neighbourly relations, cooperation and economic development in southeastern Europe. We participate in international projects or take our own initiatives, in the context of bilateral or multilateral sche mes. We offer troops and counseling, funds and food. Greece offers to her neighbours and the region the much-needed feeling of trust and security," Mr. Pangalos said.

    "Mr country accords a high priority to our relations with Albania. We welcome the efforts of the Albanian government to further pursuing the process of normalisation of democratic institutions, and its close cooperation with the international community.

    Greece considers it her duty to stand by Albania, in its efforts to overcome the serious difficulties it faces.

    "In the neighbouring Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and more particularly in the area of Kosovo, the situation has reached a critical point. The vicious circle of the use of force must be halted. The refugees and displaced persons must be allowed to re turn to their homes safely without delay. Greece has sent humanitarian assistance for alleviating the plight of the refugees in northern Albania. We welcome the setting up of the Albanian negotiating group and support the immediate start of the negotiations with the view to arriving, as soon as possible, at a peaceful and negotiated solution on the future autonomy status of Kosovo, within the internationally recognised borders of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Terrorist acts and indiscriminate and di sproportionate repression are unacceptable. Greece has and will actively participate in all international efforts aiming at securing a peaceful solution in Kosovo," Mr. Pangalos further said.

    "In the Middle East, the present stagnation underlines the urgency to reactivate the peace process. Its revival will bring them hope for peace and prosperity. Once more, we stress the need of full implementation of the relevant UN resolutions and agreem ents and we urge the parties to undertake any effort in order to achieve real peace, which should be a just, lasting and global one," he said.

    'Olympic Truce' : Referring to the Greek proposal for the 'Olympic Truce' the foreign minister stressed:

    "I would like also to refer briefly to an issue, which is of particular concern to my country, the Olympic Games. Greece, inspired by the Olympic Ideal, has presented, on Feb. 4 1998, during the session of the International Olympic Committee in Nagano, Japan, a comprehensive proposal outlining a set of organisational structures and a broad range of activities, aiming at the practical realisation of the 'Olympic Truce' by the Athens Games of 2004 and the strengthening of the role of the Olympic movement.

    In order to support these important activities, Greece proposed the establishment of an International Center for 'Olympic Truce', at the very site of ancient Olympia.

    "Further, Greece has taken the initiative and proposed the creation of the 'Cultural Olympics' for the first time in the contemporary world. This proposal was welcomed by the International Olympic Committee and the preparatory work has already started between UNESCO, the International Olympic Committee and the Greek government," Mr. Pangalos said.

    Greece's candidacy for Security Council : "Last but not least, I would like to refer to the candidacy of Greece for one of the two non-permanent seats, allocated to the western European and other states group at the Security Council of the UN, for the term 1999-2000.

    "My government has legitimate and justified ambitions for requesting the support of UN member-countries to such a distinction. Our long-standing foreign policy is dedicated to world peace and security; to the trend of decolonisation and self-determinati on; to assisting developing and less developed countries, to respect for international law and human rights," he added.

    World economy : Concerning the world economy, Mr. Pangalos said: "I share the view that globalisation presents us with an array of opportunities and potential benefits. Nevertheless, it also entails increased risks.

    "The international community has to make full use of the international financial institutions and instruments, to weather crises and respond to the challenges of globalisation. No efforts should be spared to help developing countries and in particular the least developed among them, to avoid 'marginalisation through globalisation'.

    "Two very important aspects of the effort to better integrate developing countries in the world economy merit our consideration:

    "First, rapid and determined extension of debt relief, within the terms of the 'Highly Indebted Poor Countries' Initiative, and second, improved market access so that developing countries can effectively benefit from the trade opportunities that the Uruguay Round offers.

    "In this respect, financing for development and assistance remain, an additional element of paramount importance," Mr. Pangalos concluded.

    Athens News Agency

    [03] Pangalos appears pessimistic over prospects of upcoming Antalya summit

    NEW YORK 25/09/1998 (ANA- M. Georgiadou)

    Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos yesterday appeared pessimistic over prospects for a Cyprus problem solution and possible progress on resolving differences during a planned meeting of the Greek and Turkish prime ministers in Antalya, Turkey, in November.

    "The strategy of the Turkish military and (Deputy Prime Minister Bulent) Ecevit is to close all doors," he told reporters after 90 minutes of talks with US Assistant Secretary of State for Europe Mark Grossman.

    Discussion, besides Cyprus, involved a series of other issues, including Kosovo, Albania, and the Middle East. Responding to questions on the results of the meeting, Mr. Pangalos said all issues were "making headway".

    Mr. Grossman said discussion had been substantive and important".

    Asked whether progress had been made on a proposal for a moratorium of flights of Greek and Turkish military aircraft over Cyprus, Mr. Grossman replied, "obviously it is something we talked about and something we want to go into".

    He refrained, however, from answering whether the Turkish side would accept a moratorium of overflights, saying "you have to ask them".

    Mr. Grossman said they discussed some "ideas" with Mr. Pangalos which special US presidential emissary for Cyprus, Richard Holbrooke, and State Department special coordinator for Cyprus Thomas Miller are also working on.

    Pointing out that the US proposition and effort "is to try to bring the right kind of solution to Cyprus", Mr. Grossman reaffirmed that the US position is for a "bi-zonal, bi-communal federation".

    Replying to a question on Greek-Turkish relations, Mr. Grossman said "we obviously share the view that we want the right kind of relationship between Greece and Turkey. That has been the American perspective and I know that is one the minister shares as well", he added.

    Meanwhile, according to sources, the US State Department is to begin, at the request of Congress, a comprehensive probe and recording of weaponry the Turkish military has stationed on Cyprus, and particularly, to what extent the weapons are of US origin , the supply of which falls under relevant congressional bans concerning their destination.

    He also met with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan for a half hour of talks.

    Athens News Agency

    [04] Greece reiterates reservations over any multinational strike in Kosovo

    Athens 25/09/1998 (ANA)

    Greece continues to have reservations about the possibility of a strike by international forces in Kosovo and would continue to urge a political resolution to the problem, Athens stressed yesterday.

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said the Greek government doubted the effectiveness of a military intervention but would take part in any operation if the legal framework for it was ensured.

    He said however that talk of an intervention was still premature, given the UN Security Council had yet to decide on one.

    In New York, Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos said Greece did not agree with the view that the resolution granted NATO a free hand to intervene, and that in his opinion NATO continued to hold such a prospect as a warning and a threat.

    On Wednesday, the Security Council demanded an immediate ceasefire and negotiations to end the conflict in Kosovo. China was the only permanent Security Council member to abstain.

    The resolution warns that, in the event of non-compliance, the council will "consider further action and additional measures to maintain or restore peace and stability in the region."

    In a press conference in Vilamora, Portugal, last night, where he attended the informal NATO defence ministers' meeting, Greek Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos would not be drawn on whether Greece would participate in possible air strikes against Serbian forces in Kosovo, saying that the implementation of NATO plans "would require a political decision, as well as a clarification of the necessary legal framework for action into which these mobilisations would be integrated".

    Athens News Agency

    [05] Two Albanians fatally wounded in police shootout

    Athens 25/09/1998 (ANA)

    Two Albanian illegal immigrants were killed early yesterday morning in a shootout with police, after authorities raided a disused windmill near Naoussa on a tip-off that it had turned into a meeting point for drug transactions.

    The two young Albanian nationals were part of a group of about 10 of their compatriots.

    According to reports, when police approached the mill the illegals started shooting. Police returned the fire and fatally wounded the two men. The other eight suspects managed to escape.

    A search of the mill revealed two Kalashnikov assault rifles, a shotgun, an air rifle and 1.3 kilos of hashish.

    Athens News Agency

    [06] Gas station owner shot dead

    Athens 25/09/1998 (ANA)

    Earlier in Naoussa, a gunman, believed to be Albanian, robbed and killed a 55-year old gas-station owner.

    The suspect, armed with a shotgun, entered the gas-station owned by Ioannis Andreou, who was there with his wife Maria, 46, and demanded the cash in the register.

    When Andreou refused, the suspect shot him through the heart, pistol- whipped the woman, and removed 20,000 drachmas from the cash register before fleeing.

    It was not clear whether the two incidents are related.

    An elderly Austrian national collapsed and died aboard a Swiss-registered yacht on Wednesday off the coast of Thesprotia, northwestern Greece.

    The man was identified as Otto Kyrz, 71. An autopsy will be performed to determine the cause of death.

    Athens News Agency

    [07] Papandreou: Cyprus EU prospects upset Turkey's strategy

    STRASBOURG 25/09/1998 (ANA)

    Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou expressed a view that the prospect of Cyprus joining the EU has upset Turkey's strategy on the island's political problem, and that Ankara's negative reaction is intensifying its isolation even further.

    "The course towards EU accession has clearly overturned the established situation of recent years, a strategy of Turkey that aimed to hold the Turkish Cypriots hostage on the pretext that only under its own protection could their integration be realised ," he said, in an interview with Cyprus state radio during his recent visit here in his capacity as current president of the ministerial committee of the Council of Europe.

    "At a parallel level, all the arguments which Turkey hitherto used in order to justify the unjustifiable nature of its intervention...have fallen flat, and it now finds itself before an impasse to which it reacts in the worst possible way, with more tensi on, polarisation and antagonism.

    "I hope that it (Turkey) will understand that its tactics are isolating it even more, and that its course in the international community will ultimately be judged in terms of the way it deals with the Cyprus issue," he added.

    Athens News Agency

    [08] Maltese-flagged vessel stuck off Peloponnese

    Athens 25/09/1998 (ANA)

    The Maltese-flagged vessel "Marabou" foundered in the rocky shallows off the coast of the southern Peloponnese early yesterday, authorities said.

    None of the Marabou's 15-member crew, all Russian nationals, were harmed.

    The vessel was sailing from Italy without cargo to Russia.

    Athens News Agency

    [09] First-ever Ombudsman's office in Greece opens

    Athens 25/09/1998 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday officially inaugurated the first- ever Ombudsman's office in Greece, announcing the appointment of an assistant ombudsman to handle issues relating to individuals serving in the armed forces.

    Mr. Simitis said the assistant ombudsman would contribute to the better protection of the fundamental rights of soldiers and would work closely with Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, Interior Minister Alekos Papadopoulos and the new Ombudsman, Nikif oros Diamantouros.

    The office of the Ombudsman will open to the public as of Oct. 1 and is located at 5, Hatziyiannis Mexis St. in Athens.

    Athens News Agency

    [10] Parliament on the Internet

    Athens 25/09/1998 (ANA)

    Parliamentary debates will be broadcast with both image and sound through Internet as of October, while debates of Parliamentary committees may also be broadcast very soon.

    In a statement yesterday, Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis revealed that Parliament is ready to broadcast debates through Internet, adding that the creation of television archives containing debates, speeches and other Parliamentary activities will also commence.

    Athens News Agency

    [11] Heroin smuggling arrests

    Athens 25/09/1998 (ANA)

    Thessaloniki police said yesterday they were on the tracks of an international heroin-smuggling ring, after the recent arrest of three individuals in Alexandroupoli, northeastern Greece.

    Authorities said an undercover police officer posing as a heroin buyer arranged a meeting with heroin dealers last Tuesday night at a gas station on the Alexandroupoli-Ferres road, pretending he wanted to buy one kilo of heroin for six million drachmas.

    The two suspects present during the transaction and the gas-station owner, the "contact" for the undercover officer, were arrested. Police confiscated 1.6 kilos of heroin, a shotgun and a mobile phone.

    Athens News Agency

    [12] Court rules civil aviation employees' strike illegal

    Athens 25/09/1998 (ANA)

    An Athens court on Thursday ruled that a four-day, 24-hour rolling strike called by the Federation of Civil Aviation Employees is "illegal and abusive".

    The court ruling followed recourse by the administration of state-owned Olympic Airways.

    Following the development, the Civil Aviation Authority has notified all airline companies that flights will continue unimpeded.

    On Thursday, the first day of the strike, nine flights were cancelled, eight of Olympic Aviation and one of Olympic Airways.

    Civil aviation employees are protesting against planned changes in the institutional framework of work regulations, being introduced by the government.

    The employees are demanding that two bills due to be submitted to parliament be scrapped. They charge that the bills provide for the establishment of a company which would regulate airports and civil aviation.

    Athens News Agency

    [13] Civil aviation employees' strike leads to OA flight cancellations

    Athens 25/09/1998 (ANA)

    Six domestic Olympic Aviation and Olympic Airways flights were cancelled yesterday, the first day of a series of rolling 24-hour strikes by civil aviation employees.

    A OA statement said the flights had been cancelled due to a lack of fire safety personnel.

    The civil aviation employees are protesting against planned changes in the institutional framework of work regulations being introduced by the government. They are demanding that two bills due to be submitted to Parliament be scrapped.

    Athens News Agency

    [14] Gov't launches subscriptions for privatisation bonds today

    Athens 25/09/1998 (ANA)

    The government today opens subscriptions for an equity convertible bond launched to aid its privatisation drive and raise around 350 billion drachmas for state coffers.

    The bonds, called prometoha, will be convertible into the equity of firms to be privatised through the bourse from January 1, 1999.

    Handling the issue are National Bank of Greece, Eurobank and Paribas of France - an expert in Balladur privatisation bonds.

    Finance Undersecretary Nikos Christodoulakis has met institutional investors at home and abroad over the past week in order to promote the securities.

    Book-building for domestic institutional investors will be held on 25-29 September. The deadline for retail investors to subscribe to the public offer is October 2.

    The bonds in electronic form will have a three-year duration and remain tax- exempt if the original buyer holds them until maturity, or exchanges them for stock in the listed, privatised companies.

    The rate and yield of the bonds will be set on September 29 in line with bids submitted by institutional investors.

    On offer are 170 billion drachmas worth of bonds. Another 50 billion drachmas of paper will be issued if demand is heavy. The issue date is October 9, 1998 with expiry on October 9, 2001.

    The finance ministry will also issue a five-year, fixed-income equity convertible bond in euros with coupon, available only to institutional investors abroad.

    Book-building will be used to set the price of the issue, also totalling 170 billion drachmas (500 million euros), using minimum bids of 100,000 drachmas. Again, another 50 billion drachmas of paper will be available, if demand is heavy.

    Book-building is scheduled for September 25-September 29. The issue date is October 9, 1998 with expiry on October 9, 2003.

    All bond holders will have a preferred option on stock, and a 5.0 percent discount on share prices.

    Each flotation will contain a batch of shares for bondholders, should they wish to exercise their option. The allocation is to be 40 percent of stock of floated companies, and 30 percent of stock in public enterprises sold directly by the government.

    The ministry has said it will not issue new equity convertible bonds in coming years.

    Athens News Agency

    [15] Industrial output, construction rise sharply

    Athens 25/09/1998 (ANA)

    Industrial production jumped 8.4 percent in July to show a 5.1 percent increase in January-July compared with the same period last year, the Greek National Statistics Service (GNSS) said yesterday.

    Construction activity was also sharply higher, rising by 12.7 percent in June, to show a 10.7 percent increase in January-June of 1998 compared with the corresponding period of 1997, GNSS said.

    Athens News Agency

    [16] Gov't formally submits bourse reform bill to parliament

    Athens 25/09/1998 (ANA)

    The government yesterday gave parliament a bill that eases entry for Greek and foreign firms into the Athens Stock Exchange, making the bourse more competitive.

    The bill's introduction said that the change in legislation was needed due to introduction of the euro, which would open the Athens bourse to greater competition from stock markets abroad that often had more favourable entry requirements.

    Government officials have said that the new law will allow better investment prospects for many domestic firms currently barred from the market due to current stringent listing requirements.

    The authorities held consultations with market players before submitting the bill, leading to changes in some of the rules originally contained in the bill.

    The overhaul is expected to lead to more listings for firms with growth potential, spur large domestic or multinational firms to seek entry, and upgrade the role of the capital markets commission.

    The main points of the bill that is destined for parliamentary debate and then a vote are as follows:

    - Application for listing requires the publication of balance sheets for three consecutive years, which need not show profitability. The current requirement of five straight years of profitability has been scrapped. For evaluation are a firm's asset com position and its mid-term prospects for profitability.

    - The asset composition of applicants has to be satisfactory on the basis of the latest balance sheet, with a floor for equity capital of 2.0 billion drachmas from one billion currently in force. Before consultations, the bill originally set 1.5 billion drachmas.

    - A 25 percent share capital increase is no longer mandatory for entry into the bourse.

    - A company's share distribution on listing will be acceptable if at least 25 percent of share capital is sold to the public, or there are at least 2, 000 shareholders. - The price of a share can vary for sale to different categories of investors.

    It can also be fixed or fluctuate within a range of 15 percent either way.

    - The underwriters of initial public offerings will have the right to intervene in the market in order to support a stock's price for three months from the company's date of entry. Before consultations, the time period was six months.

    - For entry into the bourse's parallel market for smaller cap stocks, companies must have a minimum shareholders' equity of 500 million drachmas and have published two balance sheets before entry, the latest showing profits.

    They will also have to post high enough profits in the fiscal year before entry to allow payment of a dividend equivalent to six percent of their stock's price.

    Firms already listed on the parallel market will have to increase their share capital to 500 million drachmas within the next three years.

    Athens News Agency

    [17] Finance ministry to auction Dr 200 bln of T-bills

    Athens 25/09/1998 (ANA)

    The finance ministry will auction a new issue of treasury bills on Tuesday, September 29, worth 200 billion drachmas, officials said yesterday.

    Bankers are waiting to see the rate to emerge linked to the drachma's expected entry into the European Union's exchange rate mechanism 2, a currency grid covering countries outside the first wave of entrants into economic and monetary union.

    Athens News Agency

    [18] Greek stocks jump following Wall St. hopes of US rate cut

    Athens 25/09/1998 (ANA)

    Equities ended sharply higher on the Athens Stock Exchange in moderate trade yesterday following a spectacular rise on Wall Street in the previous session on hopes of lower US interest rates.

    The general index ended 2.23 percent up at 2,188.89 points with turnover at 44.6 billion drachmas.

    Sector indices scored gains. Banks rose 2.72 percent, Insurance was 0.74 percent up, Investment increased 1.76 percent, Leasing ended 1.83 percent higher, Industrials rose 1.82 percent, Construction jumped 2.25 percent, Miscellaneous ended 1.87 percent up and Holding rose 1.02 percent.

    The parallel market index for small cap companies rose 2.07 percent, and the FTSE/ASE 20 blue chip index gained 2.47 percent to 1,323.17 points.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 174 to 60 with another 20 issues unchanged.

    Piraeus Leasing, Delta Inform, Thessaliki and Mytilineos were heavily traded.

    Metka, Thessaliki, Daring, Xylemporia, Fourlis, Bitros, Yalko, Hellas Can, Constantinidis and Mytilineos scored the biggest percentage gains.

    Vis, Papoutsanis, Elfico, Keranis, Galis, Etma, Mouriadis and Ekter suffered the heaviest losses.

    National Bank of Greece ended at 40,700 drachmas, Ergobank at 24,400, Alpha Credit Bank at 22,520, Ionian Bank at 10,460, Hellenic Telecoms at 6,790, Delta Dairy at 3,190, Intracom at 11,435, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,540 and Titan Cement at 18,300 drachmas.

    Athens News Agency

    [19] Listed Fourlis announces expansion plan

    Athens 25/09/1998 (ANA)

    Fourlis AEBE, which is listed on the Athens Stock Exchange, announced an expansion plan yesterday through takeovers and equity holdings in Greece, the Balkans and Cyprus.

    Fourlis purchased Bucharest-based Genco Electric Romania SRL, a company with capital of 800,000 US dollars and Genco Ltd, based in Sofia, Bulgaria, with capital of 400,781 DMarks.

    The Greek company said in a statement that it holds a 20 percent stake in Multifin SA, an Athens-based firm trading cars, boats, computers and electrical appliances with a share capital of one billion drachmas. Fourlis also holds a 30 percent stake in

    TLF Electroline Ltd, based in Nicosia, Cyprus with capital of 700,000 Cyprus pounds; and a 55 percent stake in Intarget SA, a software firm based in Athens with share capital of 300 million drachmas.

    Athens News Agency

    [20] Parliament committee okays reduction in tax fines

    Athens 25/09/1998 (ANA)

    A Greek parliamentary committee yesterday unanimously adopted an amendment to a tax bill allowing discounts on fines for overdue taxes.

    The amendment offers taxpayers a 50 percent discount on fines if they pay their debts in a lump sum, and a 15 percent discount if they pay in 30 instalments.

    The amendment was submitted by Finance Undersecretary George Drys.

    Athens News Agency

    [21] Informatics trade exhibition in Thessaloniki

    Athens 25/09/1998 (ANA)

    Prospects for Greek informatics firms in northern Greece appear favourable under certain conditions, sector representatives said in Thessaloniki.

    After a 15.7 per cent growth rate and a turnover of 170 billion drachmas in 1997, the corresponding figures for this year are expected to reach 17.2 per cent and 200 billion drachmas, the president of the sector's association, Athanasios Tzikas,said in a press conference in view of the 12th "Infosystem - Hi-Tech '98 exhibition", scheduled to open in the city on Sept. 30.

    He said the event should work in the way of promoting contacts between Greek informatics professionals with their counterparts from countries in the Balkans, further afield in Europe, and the Middle East.

    Mr. Tzikas said HELEXPO, the trade fair organisation, was in discussions with US and British companies for the joint organising of the 1999 event.

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis will greet the opening of the event through a telematic connection with Athens.

    The 12th Infosystem will last until Oct. 4, and hosts 625 exhibitors from Greece and 22 countries of Europe, America and Asia.

    Athens News Agency

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