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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 99-02-09

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] Farmers' protests get off to lukewarn start
  • [02] Pangalos meets with Bosnian leadership prior to visits to Zagreb, Belgrade
  • [03] First 25 of 170 used Leopard 1A5 tanks delivered
  • [04] Simitis sends condolences to Jordanian PM on death of King Hussein
  • [05] US Congressional delegation in Athens this month
  • [06] Athens-Nicosia sign memorandum for S-300s' deployment on Crete
  • [07] Papantoniou: Greek farmers won't suffer losses from CAP revision
  • [08] Event held against proposed nuclear plant in SE Turkey
  • [09] Slovenian Deputy FM to arrive in Athens
  • [10] EU energy delegation in Russia this week
  • [11] Greek-Israeli tree planting ceremony
  • [12] Strintzis Lines orders three new buildings from domestic yard
  • [13] State raises Dr110 bln from savings bonds
  • [14] Stocks hit new all-time high, fuelled by construction
  • [15] Bond prices drop in wake of European markets
  • [16] Singular software to launch Dr 12.4 bln share cap rise
  • [17] Aspis Group shows consolidated Dr 6.0 bln profit
  • [18] National Securities posts 78 pct profit rise in 1998
  • [19] ING Bank launches housing loans in Greece
  • [20] Derivatives market seeks members
  • [21] Aget cement group threatens to pull out of industry federation
  • [22] Mailis group plans for 1999
  • [23] OA's managing director resigns
  • [24] British participation in food fair
  • [25] Three Greek banking groups expected to vie for Ionian
  • [26] Athens Foreign Exchange

  • [01] Farmers' protests get off to lukewarn start

    Athens 09/02/1999 (ANA)

    Turnout in farmers' mobilisations in central Greece yesterday appeared below even the expectations of organisers, who appealed for greater participation.

    The government also noted that the threatened protests and road blocks this week appeared to have got off to a lukewarm start.

    "The farmers' coordinating committee has not received the response it expected," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said.

    "The number of tractors (involved in protests) was clearly smaller than in other years," he added.

    Farmers demanding lower debt repayment rates and satisfaction of other issues have warned of a repeat of protest action in 1997, when the country's road and rail network was paralysed by tractor blockades. They were due yesterday to rally outside major towns and on national highways.

    The farmers' coordinating committee met in a central hotel in Larisa in the afternoon, where Communist Party of Greece (KKE) deputy Vangelis Boutas admitted that participation was at low levels, but claimed this was due to the undermining methods of the government, who had called on public prosecutors to intervene.

    He appealed to farmers to participate in greater force in the mobilisations today, and indicated that the low turnout yesterday could be interpreted as a tactical move in expectation of measures towards reducing agricultural production costs, expected to be announced by the government tomorrow.

    A five-member ministerial committee met for an hour later yesterday to discuss the issue of the mobilisations, and concluded that rallies were not as large as expected, the only road blockade with tractors taking place at the Viokarpet junction on the n ational highway outside Larisa.

    Agriculture Minister George Anomeritis reiterated after the meeting that dialogue could only take place with open roads and that the government was on the alert to deal with "illegal acts".

    The minister added that there would be favorable arrangements for individual farmers in debt, to be announced tomorrow.

    On Saturday, Mr. Anomeritis pledged government support at the European Union for their demand for an increase in the production ceiling but held farmers jointly responsible for problems in the cotton-growing branch.

    The minister said, however, that farmers' demands with respect to cereals could not be satisfied since they were contrary to EU provisions.

    Mr. Anomeritis also said the government was examining the possibility of increasing the subsidy given to stock farmers which would cost approximately 10 billion drachmas.

    The Coalition of the Left accused the government of stoking with its intransigence farmers' mobilisations, and called on it "to assume its responsibilities and provide solutions to the mature and fair demands of the farmers instead of issuing threats and attempting with disorienting methods to bring them into conflict with the rest of society."

    Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) Dimitris Tsovolas said the mobilisations were due to the accumulated problems of the last 10 years, resulting from the government's permanently hostile policy to farmers.

    Athens News Agency

    [02] Pangalos meets with Bosnian leadership prior to visits to Zagreb, Belgrade

    SARAJEVO 09/02/1999 (ANA - A. Podimata)

    Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos held talks yesterday with his Bosnian Federation counterpart Jadranko Prlic on the international prospects of Bosnia-Herzegovina and the issue of the country's participation in the Council of Europe.

    Mr. Pangalos expressed Greece's full support. The Greek minister also met with Mr. Prlic's two deputy ministers (a Bosnian Serb and a Bosnian Moslem).

    Addressing a joint press conference afterwards, Mr. Prlic said he and Mr. Pangalos discussed the course of implementation of the Dayton agreements, the participation of Greece in rebuilding Bosnia-Herzegovina - Athens has already provided aid amounting to 25 million dollars - issues of bilateral concern and the situation in the wider region with emphasis on the Kosovo crisis.

    Mr. Pangalos said he discussed the prospects of strengthening relations between the European Union and Bosnia with his Bosnian counterpart and expressed the conviction that an agreement must be signed between the two sides as soon as necessary precondit ions are available.

    Mr. Pangalos briefed Mr. Prlic on developments in the EU and NATO and, on his part, Mr. Prlic briefed Mr. Pangalos on the implementation of the Dayton agreements and on problems that have arisen.

    Mr. Pangalos once again expressed Greece's support for the full implementation of the Dayton agreements and reminded that Athens is participating in this effort with a military force of about 285 men stationed at the Visoko army base.

    He also reminded that Greece is paying the share corresponding to it in the cost of operations. Both men agreed to regular contacts (once or twice a year) at political director level between the two foreign ministries, as well as to the creation of a mixed economic committee to examine ways of developing bilateral economic relations.

    On the question of the Kosovo crisis, Mr. Pangalos and Mr. Prlic expressed support for the Rambouillet process and called on both sides to assume their responsibilities towards the international community.

    The Greek FM added that the international community is not prepared to accept the revision of borders on the one hand and on the other the "mass infringement of human rights, war crimes and genocides."

    He further said the political leaderships of the two sides must take the international community's decision into serious consideration.

    "There are various solutions and one of them must be adopted," he said.

    During his stay in Sarajevo, Mr. Pangalos also met with two members of Bosnia-Herzegovina's tripartite presidency, the Bosnian-Croat A. Jelavic and the Bosnian Moslem and former president of Bosnia-Herzegovina Alia Izetbegovic.

    Visit to Banja Luka cancelled : Mr. Pangalos' visit to Banja Luka (in the Serb Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina) scheduled for noon yesterday was cancelled due to poor weather conditions.

    In this context, his meetings with the President of the tripartite presidency of Bosnia-Herzegovina Mr. Radisi, the president of the Serb Republic Nikola Poplasen and PM Dodik were also cancelled.

    Sarajevo airport had remained closed since yesterday morning due to a snowstorm.

    According to the new schedule, the Greek FM will leave for Zagreb as soon as Sarajevo airport opens.

    Albright letter : Meanwhile, according to sources, US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright addressed a letter to Mr. Pangalos a few days ago on the occasion of his planned tour of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Yugoslavia.

    In the letter, Ms Albright explained the positions of the US on the Yugoslav issue, focusing on the Kosovo crisis, and requested, according to the sources, from Mr. Pangalos not to carry out his scheduled meeting with the President of the Serb Republic Mr. Poplasen.

    In a letter of reply, Mr. Pangalos referred to the role Greece aspires to play in the Balkan region, stressing the encouragement the US has provided for Greece in this direction. Mr. Pangalos said in his letter that he insists on his decision to meet Mr . Poplasen and explained that in order to be able to respond successfully to this role he will have to have contacts and meetings with all sides.

    Belgrade contacts : BELGRADE (ANA - M. Mouratidis) - In a related development, Mr. Pangalos is expected here today for a series of contacts with Serb and Yugoslav officials.

    Mr. Pangalos will meet his Yugoslav counterpart Zivadin Jovanovic. The federal government determined issues to be included in the agenda at a meeting which will concern bilateral issues and current developments in the region.

    Today, Mr. Pangalos will also be meeting the President of Serbia Milan Milutinovic and the President of the Federal Parliament's council of citizens Milomir Minic.

    Tomorrow, Mr. Pangalos will be meeting with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, the federal government's Deputy PM Vuk Drascovic and the leaders of the opposition coalition "Alliance for Change" Zoran Jijic, Vesna Pesic, Milan Panic, Vuk Obradovic, Neboisa Covic and Vladan Batic.

    He will then travel to Podgorica, Montenegro to meet Montenegrin President Milo Jukanovic.

    Arrival in Croatia : ZAGREB (ANA) - After landing here, Mr. Pangalos met with his Croatian counterpart Mate Granic for an hour and discussed bilateral and multilateral relations, in the region.

    Following the meeting, Mr. Granic said relations between Greece and Croatia are "those of friendship."

    He added that Greece will undertake the initiative for the creation of a team of experts to work on the re-construction of a highway beginning at Igoumenitsa and running the length of the eastern Adriatic.

    Mr. Granic noted that Greece and Croatia support the Italian initiative, which includes safe passage of ships, the fight against drug trafficking and the economic development of the region in general.

    With regard to Kosovo, he said both countries strongly support the Rambouillet process and the positions of the Contact Group in resolving the problem.

    On his part, Mr. Pangalos added that following the recent visit of Croatian President Franjo Tudjman to Greece, relations between the two countries have entered a new course.

    Athens News Agency

    [03] First 25 of 170 used Leopard 1A5 tanks delivered

    Athens 09/02/1999 (ANA)

    The Hellenic army yesterday officially took delivery of the first 25 of 170 second-hand Leopard 1A5 tanks from Germany within the framework of the army's ongoing armaments programme.

    The delivery ceremony at the Prokopidis army camp just outside Thessaloniki was attended by National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos and top military officials headed by the chief of the Army General Staff, Lt.-Gen. Manoussos Paragioudakis.

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said the Leopard tanks were among the most modern in the Hellenic army, which first took delivery of 77 of this type in 1993 as offset benefits within the framework of a contract for the purchase of four German-built frigates.

    The 170 Leopards will cost a total of 19 billion drachmas, which includes the supply of simulators for crew training and some work which is necessary before the tanks become fully operational.

    The Leopard 1A5 is equipped with a heat-seeking periscope for firing at night and in conditions of poor visibility and a highly accurate computerised firing control system.

    The technology enables the Leopard to hit targets with great accuracy at a long-distance while moving at speeds of up to 40 kilometres a hour.

    With a further 17 tanks already on the way, it is expected that all 170 Leopards will have been delivered by the end of the year.

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos, meanwhile, described as "the purchase of the century for the army" the procurement of 250 modern main battle tanks. He said the army was presently looking at six types and the final choice of the tank to be purchased would be made be fore the end of 1999.

    Athens News Agency

    [04] Simitis sends condolences to Jordanian PM on death of King Hussein

    Athens 09/02/1999 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis sent a message of condolences to his Jordanian counterpart, Fayez al-Tarawnah, on the death of King Hussein of Jordan on Sunday.

    "It is with great regret I was informed of the death of King Hussein, an exceptional leader and a mainstay for peace and stability in the Middle East. I extend to Your Excellency, on behalf of the Greek government and myself, our sincerest condolences and deepest sympathies," the telegram read.

    President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos represented Greece at the state funeral for Hussein in Amman yesterday.

    The Jordanian embassy in Athens yesterday announced that a book of condolences for King Hussein Bin Talal will be open for three days, beginning today.

    Those wishing to express their condolences may visit the embassy between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. at 30, P. Zervou St., Paleo Psychico.

    Athens News Agency

    [05] US Congressional delegation in Athens this month

    Athens 09/02/1999 (ANA)

    A 12-member delegation of US Congressmen will visit Greece on Feb. 18 to meet with Greek government officials on political and economic affairs and defence and seucrity issues.

    The delegation, led by Nebraska Republican Douglas Bereuter, is on a six- day tour of the region and, apart from Greece, will also visit Belgium, France, Cyprus and Turkey.

    The Athens talks are expected to focus on the security situation in the eastern Mediterranean, relations between Greece and Turkey and prospects for a resolution of the Cyprus issue.

    Athens News Agency Athens 09/02/1999 (ANA)

    US Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Frank Kramer will visit Athens from this week for high-level consultations with Greek officials, a US embassy press release said yesterday.

    The talks will focus on defence issues of mutual interest.

    Athens News Agenc

    [06] Athens-Nicosia sign memorandum for S-300s' deployment on Crete

    Athens 09/02/1999 (ANA)

    National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos and his Cypriot counterpart Yiannakis Chrysostomis are expected during talks yesterday and today in Athens to sign a memorandum to bring the Russian-made S-300 missiles one step closer to deployment on Crete.

    Nicosia ordered the missiles for deployment on Cyprus but cancelled the procurement amidst fears that their deployment might jeopardise ongoing European Union accession negotiations.

    The United States and European countries had expressed opposition to Nicosia's plans, fearing an increase in tension in the region. Turkey openly threatened to prevent deployment of the missiles on Cyprus.

    Following Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides' decision in late December not to go ahead with the procurement, Athens said it would be willing to install the missiles on Crete.

    Yesterday's talks focused on the technical details of such a move and next Monday a Cypriot delegation and representative of the Greek National Defence Ministry will travel to Moscow to sign an agreement with the Russian side.

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said after a first round of talks with Mr. Chrysostomis yesterday that the Greek government's decision would be implemented "immediately" but declined to specify any time framework for the deployment of the missiles on Crete.

    Also discussed were measures considered necessary to ensure that Cyprus has an adequate defence capability. In this respect, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos reiterated that Greece guaranteed Cyprus' security in the face of all threats within the context of the Greece-Cyprus joint defence doctrine. Backing in full his Greek counterpart's statements, Mr. Chrysostomis described the result of the meeting between the two defence ministry delegations as "very satisfactory".

    Athens News Agency

    [07] Papantoniou: Greek farmers won't suffer losses from CAP revision

    BRUSSELS 09/02/1999(ANA - P. Pantelis/Y. Zitouniati)

    National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou confirmed that in no way will Greek farmers suffer losses as a result of the Common Agricultural Policy's (CAP) revision being discussed.

    Mr. Papantoniou was speaking at the end of a prolonged discussion on the "Agenda 2000" at the Council of Finance and National Economy Ministers (ECOFIN) here yesterday.

    The EU German presidency raised all issues in light of the General Affairs Council and the informal summit to be held at the end of February.

    He said that establishing Greek positions on CAP, Greece raised strong objections to the ceiling of 40.5 billion euro for the average annual expenditure in the agricultural sector, supported by a minority among the 15 member-states, because it considers the amount to be extremely low. It also disagrees with any thought of joint funding of CAP leading to its renationalisation.

    Mr. Papantoniou said that for these positions Greece had allies in other countries, headed by France, and as a result this scenario which is considered the worse for Greek farmers is moving away as a possibility.

    "We will put up a fight for the Greek farmers not only for EU money not to be curbed but to increase if possible," he said.

    Mr. Papantoniou bases his optimism on the fact that Greek farm products have deficits and have nothing to do with EU products having surpluses which absorb the biggest percentage of EU expenditures.

    He also stressed the need for the Cohesion Fund to remain unchanged for the poorer countries, namely, Greece, Spain, Ireland and Portugal, without any change in criteria.

    Greek positions are also identical with the Commission's proposals on the issue of stabilising expenditures, in contrast to the German presidency's proposals which anticipate a further decrease.

    According to the Greek positions communicated to the Commission in writing, a change could take place in the direction of greater progressiveness with the replacement of VAT with GDP percentages.

    Greece has expressed absolute opposition to the generalised corrective mechanism being proposed and means a new allocation of burdens, but does not appear to have great support from member-states since the process it entails presents great difficulties, including its ratification by the 15 national parliaments.

    The issue of a return of contributions to Britain is expected to be settled by the generalised corrective mechanism, as well as a decrease in contributions to the EU budget by Germany, Sweden, Denmark and Austria.

    Mr. Papantoniou said that a generalised corrective mechanism would cost a great deal for Greece, while a more specialised settlement could be beneficial.

    Asked to comment on reports concerning a possible differentiation on the height of inflation as a criterion for Greece's accession to Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), Mr. Papantoniou said that it is a question of interpretation and this will be decided by the European Commission and the European Central Bank.

    Athens News Agency

    [08] Event held against proposed nuclear plant in SE Turkey

    Athens 09/02/1999 (ANA)

    A one-day meeting organised by a committee of Greek citizens on the topic of "Akkuyu: Double threat and International Action to Deal With It", wound up yesterday in Athens with the adoption of a petition demanding cancellation of Turkey's plans to build a nuclear plant near Akkuyu, across from Cyprus.

    The petition will be circulated in Greece and abroad to collect signatures against the project.

    Furthermore, the organising group is planning to hold meetings with the government, political parties, trade unions and other agencies in order to coordinate action on international level.

    In speeches delivered during yesterday's meeting, a number of professors, MPs and other specialists on energy issues stressed the dangers looming from the construction of a nuclear plant in the specific region. Some of the negative aspects are the area's high seismic activity, the serious impact on health by nuclear accidents, disposal of nuclear waste, etc.

    Athens News Agency

    [09] Slovenian Deputy FM to arrive in Athens

    Athens 09/02/1999 (ANA)

    Slovenian Deputy FM Franco Yuri is expected to visit Greece on Feb. 16, following talks with his Greek counterpart Yiannos Kranidiotis in Ljubljana last week. Mr. Yuri will reportedly pass on a message from his prime minister to the leadership of the Gre ek foreign and national defence ministries, relating to the NATO summit to be held in Washington in April. Greece has fully supported Slovenia in its efforts to join both the European Union and NATO, a position that was reiterated by Mr. Kranidiotis in his talks last week. He also visited the only Slovenian port, Koper, on the Adriatic coast, whose official name is Capodistria, the birthplace of the first governor of modern Greece. Mr. Kranidiotis met with the town's mayor and conveyed Greece's decision to donate a statue of Ioannis Kapodistrias.
    Athens News Agency

    [10] EU energy delegation in Russia this week

    BRUSSELS 09/02/1999 (ANA - G. Daratos)

    European Commissioner Christos Papoutsis will pay an official visit to Moscow on Wednesday to promote cooperation in the energy sector between the European Union and Russia.

    The EU Commissioner, who is responsible for energy, will discuss bilateral issues and is expected to sign a political agreement for cooperation in the energy sector.

    The Commissioner heads a EU delegation, which will meet with Russian officials.

    Mr. Papoutsis will meet with Russian officials and is expected to underline the importance of the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between the EU and Russia, while he is expected to discuss ways to develop further activities. He is also expected to stress the need for Russia to adopt specific legislation and regulation, so as to secure that country's entry into the international energy market.

    Russia is a major energy supplier of the European Union, since 20 per cent of the natural gas and 16 of the oil consumed in the EU is supplied by Russia, while 50 per cent of Russia's foreign currency reserves come from energy sales to the EU.

    Athens News Agency

    [11] Greek-Israeli tree planting ceremony

    Athens 09/02/1999 (ANA)

    A Greek-Israeli tree planting ceremony was held Sunday in Pendeli with the participation of Agriculture Deputy Minister Paraskevas Fountas, Israeli ambassador in Athens Ran Curiel and Attica Reforestation Director Yannis Betamidis.

    The ceremony took place in the framework of a developing bilateral cooperation in fighting natural disasters, an Israeli embassy press release said.

    Fifty trees were planted in the Agios Petros area, and the event was part of celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of Israel.

    Israel and Greece are neighbours in the same region and share similar problems in dealing with natural disasters, a factor which lends itself to closer cooperation, the press release said.

    It said that during the massive forest fires in Greece last summer, the Israeli foreign ministry conveyed an official proposal to the Greek government for assistance in reforestation projects.

    Likewise, it added, when a similar crisis with large forest fires broke out throughout Israel last September, Greece responded very quickly to Jerusalem's request for help and immediately approved the dispatch of three firefighting planes.

    Greece's quick response prompted Israeli Foreign Minister Ariel Sharon to write to his Greek counterpart expressing appreciation to Greek authorities.

    Athens News Agency

    [12] Strintzis Lines orders three new buildings from domestic yard

    Athens 09/02/1999 (ANA)

    Strintzis Lines, a listed passenger shipping company,yesterday signed a contract with Hellenic Shipyards to build three new ferries worth more than 30 billion drachmas.

    Each 138.2-metre ferry will have a maximum speed of 27 knots, carrying a maximum 2,100 passengers and 350 cars, or 130 cars and 50 trucks.

    The first ship will be delivered in February 2001, the second in May 2001 and the third at a time still to be agreed.

    Shipbuilding costs were considered to be competitive due to international shipbuilding market conditions, the company said.

    Strintzis Lines account for a significant share of the Greece-Italy route.

    The company is also seeking to expand its activities in domestic passenger shipping.

    Strintzis is the first Greek shipping company to sign a ferry deal with Hellenic Shipyards, Greece's largest shipyard still under state control.

    Analysts believe that the deal may pave the way for other shipowners to order ships from the yard.

    Athens News Agency

    [13] State raises Dr110 bln from savings bonds

    Athens 09/02/1999 (ANA)

    A two-year savings bond offer raised around 110 billion drachmas, a finance ministry statement said yesterday, citing preliminary results.

    The tax-free bonds offer a fixed annual rate of 9.20 percent.

    The ministry will auction a new issue of three- and six-month treasury bills today.

    The electronic T-bill issues total 40 billion drachmas each.

    Athens News Agency

    [14] Stocks hit new all-time high, fuelled by construction

    Athens 09/02/1999 (ANA)

    Equities surged to new record highs yesterday led by strong buying interest in shares in the construction sector.

    The general index ended 0.45 percent higher to 3,322.63 points.

    Sector indices scored gains.

    Banks rose 0.11 percent, Leasing soared 8.0 percent, Insurance gained 1.22 percent, Investment increased 0.78 percent, Construction jumped 7.08 percent, Industrials rose 0.47 percent, Miscellaneous ended 2.28 percent higher but Holding bucked the trend to end 0.59 percent off.

    The parallel market index for small cap companies ended 1.74 percent up.

    Listed engineering contractors again lure buyers Players on the Athens bourse again grabbed construction shares yesterday, propelling the sector's index 7.08 percent higher and taking 21 stocks to close at or near the daily 8.0 percent upper volatility limit.

    Engineering contractors are expected to improve their financial performance in 1999, spurred by an acceleration in the execution of public works.

    The Athens Stock Exchange's construction sector has gained 70.6 percent since the start of the year on expectations of mounting turnover and profits.

    Another factor to fuel sentiment is an announcement expected in mid-April by the public works ministry that will offer incentives for the plethora of contractors in the sector to merge.

    Underlying optimism this year are expectations of fresh European Union funds under the Santer package, projects for the 2004 Olympic Games to be hosted by Athens, and nearly half a trillion drachmas' worth of tenders to be called by the ministry.

    Athens News Agency

    [15] Bond prices drop in wake of European markets

    Athens 09/02/1999 (ANA)

    Bond prices in the secondary market slumped under selling pressure yesterday, dragged down by declines in the UK, Germany and France.

    Hardest hit was the latest domestic 15-year bond, which dropped to 104.90 following a mass sell-off. Electronic trade was light to moderate at 44 billion drachmas.

    The drachma remained strong in the foreign currency market at 322.080 to the euro at the central bank's daily fix against 322.110 in the previous session. Interbank rates were flat.

    Athens News Agency

    [16] Singular software to launch Dr 12.4 bln share cap rise

    Athens 09/02/1999 (ANA)

    Shareholders of the Singular software group yesterday endorsed a share capital rise of 12.4 billion drachmas through a capitalisation of reserves and a cash payment.

    Telesis Capital is advisor to the rights issue, whose proceeds will fund acquisitions in Greece and abroad and extensions to company buildings; also boosting operating capital.

    Company chairman Andonis Kyriazis told shareholders that in the new millennium Singular aimed to become the strongest Greek-owned information technology firm internationally.

    He said that Singular had taken a major step into markets abroad through its recent strategic alliance with Baan of the Netherlands; and into retail sales through a new alliance with domestic Germanos.

    Athens News Agency

    [17] Aspis Group shows consolidated Dr 6.0 bln profit

    Athens 09/02/1999 (ANA)

    Aspis Group's consolidated assets totalled 150 billion drachmas in 1998 and profits six billion drachmas, Pavlos Psomiadis, the group's chairman, told a news conference yesterday. Presenting last year's results, Mr. Psomiadis said the group aimed to further strengthen its position in the domestic market through takeovers or mergers.

    The banker said that the group would consider proposals to forge a strategic alliance with other groups, but dismissed the possibility of the bank being bought by another financial institution.

    Aspis Group's workforce totalled 750 employees last year, while the number of clients and shareholders totalled 500,000 and 40,000 respectively.

    Aspis Group includes Aspis Pronia Insurance, Aspis Bank, Aspis Mutual Funds, Aspis Securities and Aspis Investment.

    The group is seeking listing of Aspis Pronia and Aspis Securities on the Athens Stock Exchange.

    Aspis Bank plans to open five new branches by July raising its network to 20 units.

    The bank is also expected to launch its own credit card and promote bankassurance business.

    Athens News Agency

    [18] National Securities posts 78 pct profit rise in 1998

    Athens 09/02/1999 (ANA)

    National Securities, a subsidiary of National Bank of Greece, yesterday reported 1998 net profits before tax of 3.7 billion drachmas against 2.07 billion in 1997.

    Net income in 1998 from transactions was 3.9 billion drachmas, up 133 percent from 1997.

    The brokerage ranked top last year for the third straight year on the basis of turnover, holding 10.54 percent of the market. Turnover for 1998 was around 3.0 trillion drachmas.

    Athens News Agency

    [19] ING Bank launches housing loans in Greece

    Athens 09/02/1999 (ANA)

    ING Bank, a member of the international ING Group operating in Greece since 1995, has begun offering housing loans.

    It said in a statement yesterday that the loans are linked to insurance cover from Nationale-Neder-landen, which also belongs to the ING Group.

    The bank's spending on housing loans represents 1.0 percent of loans.

    Athens News Agency

    [20] Derivatives market seeks members

    Athens 09/02/1999 (ANA)

    The Athens Derivatives Market, due for launch in the spring, has begun seeking members among banks and brokerages both for itself and for an accompanying clearing house.

    The members to be chosen from applicants will organise a derivatives department with staff accredited by the market.

    Athens News Agency

    [21] Aget cement group threatens to pull out of industry federation

    Athens 09/02/1999 (ANA)

    A rift has broken out involving two key cement producers that belong to the usually low-profile Federation of Greek Industry (SEV).

    The Aget Group yesterday sent a letter to SEV's board saying it had suspended the membership of its companies in the influential trade association, and may pull out altogether.

    Aget asked SEV to take disciplinary measures against Andreas Kanellopoulos, SEV's board chairman and president of Titan Cement Co., Italian-owned Aget's key rival in the domestic market.

    Aget complained that Mr. Kanellopoulos had come out in favour of the imposition by the European Union of a fine on Aget, speaking in an interview to Titanes, Titan's in-house company magazine.

    Aget claimed that Mr. Kanellopoulos' alleged remarks in the magazine could unfairly influence the EU's Executive Commission.

    Mr. Kanellopoulos also reportedly indicated in the interview that Aget would not receive the backing of shareholders if it were to try and hold a rights issue on the Athens bourse, according to Aget's complaint.

    The Commission may rule this month in a case concerning the capitalisation of Aget's debts in 1986, an affair that was closed and then reopened. Aget has since changed its shareholder composition.

    Titan had complained to the European Union about unfair competition.

    Athens News Agency

    [22] Mailis group plans for 1999

    Athens 09/02/1999 (ANA)

    The Mailis group unveiled ambitious plans which include expansion in the European market for secondary packaging materials and doubling results in 1999.

    Towards this end, Mailis managing director Mihalis Mailis told a press conference yesterday that the company is currently implementing an integrated strategy programme, which involves new investments for expanding production and acquisitions of strategic importance abroad.

    Besides the recent acquisitions of three similar French firms for 18 million French francs and the setting up of the Mailis France Holding, the company is soon to announce the establishment of a joint venture in the United States, in collaboration with an Italian manufacturer and an American distributor. The recent acquisitions also included Spain's Incoplastic concern.

    The group's results for 1998, as regard sales, amounted to 19.6 billion drachmas, up 35 per cent from the 14.5 billion drachmas in 1997. Net pre- tax profits were 3.5 billion drachmas, up 86 per cent from 1.9 billion in 1997. Shareholders' equity stood at 4.5 billion drachmas, Mr. Mailis said.

    Group sales will reach 40 billion drachmas - with 50 per cent of the increase, or 10 billion drachmas, coming from exports - while profits are expected to double, he added. The group has plants in Greece, Spain and Romania, producing polyesther and poly propylene packaging materials (PET and PP), as well as strech and shrink film, having one of the largest plants in Europe, and with second place in the European market after the American firm ITW.

    The company's marketing policy is separated into two basic sectors, heavy and light packaging. The heavy types, which have a higher gross profit margin, are distributed by 70 per cent by independent networks (50 countries and 160 distributors), and the rest by owned networks. The opposite is the case for light packaging.

    Athens News Agency

    [23] OA's managing director resigns

    Athens 09/02/1999 (ANA)

    The managing director of Olympic Airways (OA) yesterday handed his resignation to Transport Minister Tassos Mantelis and National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou.

    In his letter of resignation, Mr. Tsakiridis said he was vacating the post in order to facilitate efforts by Mr. Mantelis to find a new manager for the ailing state-run airline.

    The national economy ministry on Jan. 31 announced an international tender for an airline operator to take over the management of OA.

    Despite his resignation, Mr. Tsakiridis is expected to remain in his post until Friday when the deadline ends for the expression of interest.

    According to sources, British Airways, Lufthansa and a US operator have expressed interest in taking over management.

    Athens News Agency

    [24] British participation in food fair

    Athens 09/02/1999 (ANA)

    Twenty-five British companies from the food and beverage sector, accompanied by Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) officials, will be in Athens from Feb. 11-15 to take part in the 12th Food and Drink Exhibition at the Peace and Friendship stadium in Faliron, the British embassy in Athens said yesterday.

    Beer, cider, soft drinks and meat products will be exhibited, and visitors will have the opportunity to get information from either companies representatives or DTI and embassy officials about participating companies and products.

    Enquiries should be addressed to Thaleia Paraschi, commercial section, British embassy tel: 72.72.637 or fax: 72.41.872.

    Athens News Agency

    [25] Three Greek banking groups expected to vie for Ionian

    Athens 09/02/1999 (ANA)

    The timetable for submitting non-binding offers for the purchase of 51 per cent of the Ionian Bank's shares from its parent Commercial Bank expired yesterday afternoon.

    According to a proclamation of an international tender, offers had to be submitted at the offices of the J.P. Morgan Co. in London, which constitutes the sale adviser, by 7 p.m. Athens time.

    Alpha Credit Bank, Eurobank in cooperation with Ergobank as well as the Bank of Piraeus group had been expected up to the last minute to participate in the initial phase of the tender.

    Athens News Agency

    [26] Athens Foreign Exchange

    Athens 09/02/1999 (ANA)

    Bank of Greece closing rates of: February 8, 1999

    Parities in Drachmas

    Banknotes Buying  Selling
    US Dollar            283.960 290.544
    Can.Dollar           190.643 195.063
    Australian Dlr       185.291 189.587
    Pound Sterling       464.018 474.776
    Irish Punt           405.685 415.091
    Pound Cyprus         548.576 561.295
    Pound Malta          698.637 727.747
    Turkish pound (100)    0.074   0.077
    French franc          48.788  49.838
    Swiss franc          199.551 204.177
    Belgian franc          7.920   8.104
    German Mark          163.360 167.147
    Finnish Mark          53.737  54.983
    Dutch Guilder        144.985 148.346
    Danish Kr.            42.981  43.978
    Swedish Kr.           36.039  36.875
    Norwegian Kr.         37.002  37.859
    Austrian Sh.          23.219  23.757
    Italian lira (100)    16.501  16.884
    Yen (100)            249.805 255.597
    Spanish Peseta         1.921   1.965
    Port. Escudo           1.594   1.631
    
    Foreign Exchange     Buying  Selling
    New York             283.960 290.544
    Montreal             190.643 195.063
    Sydney               185.291 189.587
    London               464.018 474.776
    Dublin               405.685 415.091
    Nicosia              548.576 561.295
    Paris                 48.788  49.838
    Zurich               199.551 204.177
    Brussels               7.920   8.104
    Frankfurt            163.360 167.147
    Helsinki              53.737  54.983
    Amsterdam            144.985 148.346
    Copenhagen            42.981  43.978
    Stockholm             36.039  36.875
    Oslo                  37.002  37.859
    Vienna                23.219  23.757
    Milan                 16.501  16.884
    Tokyo                249.805 255.597
    Madrid                 1.921   1.965
    Lisbon                 1.594   1.631
    
    Athens News Agency

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