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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 99-02-12

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Moody's upgrades Greek foreign currency debt,deposits
  • [02] Ten-year bonds jump on Moody's euphoria, soft money rates
  • [03] Stocks hit new record on credit rating upgrade for Greece
  • [04] Retail sales rise 5.8 pct in November
  • [05] Minister in Russia to resolve natural gas spat
  • [06] International bank conference to be held in Athens
  • [07] Greece has trade deficit of 11.2 bln euros in Jan-Oct 1998
  • [08] Folli Follie reports 60 pct pre-tax profit jump in 1998
  • [09] Athens Foreign Exchange
  • [10] New radar upgrades Athens FIR control
  • [11] KYSEA to meet today on fighter aircraft procurement
  • [12] Thrace no battleground for nationalistic squabbles,Papandreou says
  • [13] President Stephanopoulos to begin Austria visit on Monday
  • [14] Publication on Mt Sinai monastery presented in Athens
  • [15] Personal beliefs not persecuted in Greece, gov't says
  • [16] Euro-MPs urge Blair to return Parthenon Marbles
  • [17] Bulgari chooses Athens for premiere new leather collection
  • [18] Supreme Court rules on foreign companies in Greece

  • [01] Moody's upgrades Greek foreign currency debt,deposits

    Athens 12/02/1999 (ANA)

    Moody's Investors Service, the US credit rating agency, has upgraded Greece's Baa1 country rating for foreign currency debt and deposits to a positive outlook from neutral.

    Moody's said in a statement said the move reflected the economy's successful progress towards convergence with the European Union and its prospects for entry into the EU's economic and monetary union "in a few years".

    Moody's rates Greece's domestic debt and foreign exchange deposits at Baa1 and the country's drachma debt at A2.

    The news sparked euphoria among domestic market players, driving the Athens Stock Exchange to a new all-time high and propelling bond prices to new highs.

    A new upgrade for the economy was likely within the year, traders said.

    The government expressed its satisfaction at Moody's upgrading.

    National economy ministry officials also hope for a higher rating within the year.

    The higher rating means that the government and the central bank will be able to borrow from abroad under more favourable terms, including lower interest rates.

    In turn, cheaper loans will reduce debt servicing costs, easing pressure on the budget.

    In another development, Bear Stears was quoted by Reuters news agency as saying that buying opportunities existed in the Greek bond market.

    Reuters also quoted the international house as saying that inflation would drop sharply in the next three months.

    In a report, Bear Stearns forecast that the drachma would gradually return to its central parity of 353 against the euro in the European Union's exchange rate mechanism, in effect after the drachma's devaluation in mid- March last year.

    Athens News Agency

    [02] Ten-year bonds jump on Moody's euphoria, soft money rates

    Athens 12/02/1999 (ANA)

    Prices in the secondary bond market jumped yesterday on euphoria sparked by a higher credit rating by Moody's for the country's debt, also boosted by lower money market rates.

    The 10-year bond expiring in 2009 traded at 103.00-103.25 (yield at 5.89 percent-5.85 percent), and the 10-year bond expiring in 2008 at 117.50- 117.75 (yield at 6.04-6.01 percent).

    Electronic trade in the secondary bond market was brisk at 55 billion drachmas.

    The jump by fixed-income paper of 30-50 basis points followed a brief period of consolidation when bond prices were lower.

    Interbank rates were soft on high liquidity. Overnight funds were trading at 9.40-9.90 percent.

    The drachma slid against most major foreign currencies, correcting a rise in the previous session.

    It stood at 322.180 against the euro at the central bank's daily fix against 321.780 a day earlier.

    Athens News Agency

    [03] Stocks hit new record on credit rating upgrade for Greece

    Athens 12/02/1999 (ANA)

    The decision by Moody's, the US credit rating agency, to upgrade Greece's debt standing brought euphoria back to the Athens Stock Exchange yesterday, driving share prices to new record highs.

    The general index ended 3.08 percent up at 3,323.69 points, its 13th all- time high this year. Turnover was 141.02 billion and volume 28,778,560 shares.

    Sector indices scored gains across the board.

    Banks soared 3.80 percent, Leasing was 2.53 percent up, Insurance jumped 4.96 percent, Investment increased 2.83 percent, Construction surged 3.31 percent, Industrials rose 2.57 percent, Miscellaneous ended 2.10 percent higher and Holding rose 2.23 perc ent.

    The parallel market index for small cap companies ended 2.11 percent up while the FTSE/ASE 20 index rose 3.26 percent to 2,113.08.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 275 to 17 with another 4 issues unchanged.

    Mytilineos, Viosol, Bank of Piraeus and Ergo Invest were the most heavily traded stocks.

    A total of 107 share prices hit the day's 8.0 percent limit up. Among them were Constantinidis, Bitros, Sato, Sigalas, Petzetakis, Remek, Eskimo, Esha, Ergas and Techniki Olympic.

    Aspis Invest, Doudos, Mohlos, Xifias, Mouriadis, Giannousis, Dimitriaids, Pantechniki, Elfico and Sea Farm Ionian suffered the heaviest losses.

    National Bank of Greece ended at 21,000 drachmas, Alpha Credit Bank at 35, 400, Ergobank at 24,815, Ionian Bank at 17,000, Titan Cement at 23,490, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,290, Intracom at 16,000, Minoan Lines at 7,950, Panafon at 9,700 and Hellenic Telecoms at 8,225.

    Athens News Agency

    [04] Retail sales rise 5.8 pct in November

    Athens 12/02/1999 (ANA)

    The retail sales index rose by 5.8 percent in November compared to the same month in 1997, pushing the index to a 6.0 percent annual rate of growth in January-November 1998, the National Statistics Service said yesterday.

    The NSS said in a statement that the food index rose 7.1 percent in November, footwear and clothing 6.8 percent, furniture and durable goods 2.5 percent, and miscellaneous products 9.3 percent.

    Athens News Agency

    [05] Minister in Russia to resolve natural gas spat

    MOSCOW 12/02/1999 (ANA-D. Konstandakopoulos)

    Development Minister Vasso Papandreou yesterday began a two-day visit to Moscow for talks with government and energy officials over a shortage of Russian natural gas supplies to Greece.

    Ms Papandreou has complained that too little gas is arriving into the country's growing network, also questioning its quality.

    Hit by the problems are industries connected to the gas supply and an electricity generating plant of the Public Power Corporation at Lavrio, near Athens.

    The inadequate quantity and quality of the natural gas are seen by the Greek side as breaching a contract signed by the two countries' gas firms, DEPA of Greece and Gaz Prom of Russia.

    Accompanying Ms Papandreou are senior officials of DEPA and Hellenic Petroleum.

    Also on the agenda for talks are a slow-moving project to build a pipeline to carry Russian oil to Greece.

    EU signs energy industrial cooperation pact with Russia : MOSCOW (ANA-G. Daratos) - The European Union and Russia yesterday signed an agreement to reinforce mainly industrial cooperation in the energy sector.

    A key player in the international market, Russia supplies the 15-nation EU with 20 percent of the natural gas it consumes and 16 percent of oil.

    Signing for the EU was Greece's commissioner, Christos Papoutsis, who is responsible for energy.

    Athens News Agency

    [06] International bank conference to be held in Athens

    Athens 12/02/1999 (ANA)

    An international banking forum, which will bring together banking unions from the Black Sea countries, Balkans and Mediterranean region, will be held in Athens on February 14-16.

    The forum, organised by the Hellenic Banks Association, will include representatives from Albania, Armenia, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Israel, Yugoslavia, Ukraine, Turkey, Slovenia, Romania, Palestine, Lebanon and Greece.

    The Hellenic association's secretary general, Ioannis Manos, will chair the forum.

    The chairman of the executive committee of the European Union Banking Federation, James Bardon, will also attend.

    It is the first such meeting in Europe to promote the activities of banking federations, exchange information and seek ways of tightening links.

    Athens News Agency

    [07] Greece has trade deficit of 11.2 bln euros in Jan-Oct 1998

    BRUSSELS 12/02/1999 (ANA-P.Pandelis)

    Greece posted a trade deficit of 11.2 billion euros in January-October 1998 against 11.4 billion euros in the same period of 1997, Eurostat, the European Union's statistics division, said yesterday.

    Greek exports in January-October last year totalled 7.8 billion euros against 8.4 billion in the same period of 1997, down 7.0 percent.

    Greek imports in January-October 1998 totalled 18.9 billion euros, down 4.0 percent on 19.8 billion a year earlier.

    Athens News Agency

    [08] Folli Follie reports 60 pct pre-tax profit jump in 1998

    Athens 12/02/1999 (ANA)

    Folli Follie, a jewellery and accesories manufacturer and retailer, yesterday reported a 1998 pre-tax profit rise of 60 percent to 2.25 billion drachmas from 1.4 billion a year earlier.

    The company, which is listed on the parallel market of the Athens bourse for smaller cap stocks, attributed the better-than-expected results to a rise in exports, which more than doubled against the previous year and comprised 61 percent of total sales.

    Turnover in 1998 was 7.5 billion drachmas from 5.3 billion in the previous year.

    Athens News Agency

    [09] Athens Foreign Exchange

    Athens 12/02/1999 (ANA)

    Bank of Greece closing rates of: February 11, 1999

    Parities in Drachmas

    Banknotes            Buying  Selling
    US Dollar            282.274 288.818
    Can.Dollar           189.492 193.885
    Australian Dlr       182.230 186.455
    Pound Sterling       458.562 469.194
    Irish Punt           405.811 415.220
    Pound Cyprus         549.310 562.046
    Pound Malta          694.488 723.425
    Turkish pound (100)    0.074   0.077
    French franc          48.723  49.853
    Swiss franc          200.091 204.731
    Belgian franc          7.923   8.106
    German Mark          163.410 167.199
    Finnish Mark          53.754  55.000
    Dutch Guilder        145.029 148.392
    Danish Kr.            42.983  43.980
    Swedish Kr.           35.841  36.672
    Norwegian Kr.         36.982  37.839
    Austrian Sh.          23.227  23.765
    Italian lira (100)    16.506  16.889
    Yen (100)            247.355 253.090
    Spanish Peseta         1.921   1.965
    Port. Escudo           1.594   1.631
    Foreign Exchange     Buying  Selling
    New York             282.274 288.818
    Montreal             189.492 193.885
    Sydney               182.230 186.455
    London               458.562 469.194
    Dublin               405.811 415.220
    Nicosia              549.310 562.046
    Paris                 48.723  49.853
    Zurich               200.091 204.731
    Brussels               7.923   8.106
    Frankfurt            163.410 167.199
    Helsinki              53.754  55.000
    Amsterdam            145.029 148.392
    Copenhagen            42.983  43.980
    Stockholm             35.841  36.672
    Oslo                  36.982  37.839
    Vienna                23.227  23.765
    Milan                 16.506  16.889
    Tokyo                247.355 253.090
    Madrid                 1.921   1.965
    Lisbon                 1.594   1.631
    Athens News Agency

    [10] New radar upgrades Athens FIR control

    Athens 12/02/1999 (ANA)

    The Greek Civil Aviation Authority's (YPA) new ultra-modern radar was set in full operation one minute past midnight, YPA said yesterday, considerably upgrading control over the Athens Flight Information Region (FIR).

    YPA director Dionyssis Kalofonos issued a NOTAM to all international organisations and airlines.

    YPA's new radar system, comprising terminals in Pelio and on the islands of Lefkas and Kythnos, increasing aircraft capacity in the air corridors to 15 from the previous five, as the required distance between airplanes is reduced from 70 to 10 miles, YPA said.

    Athens News Agency

    [11] KYSEA to meet today on fighter aircraft procurement

    Athens 12/02/1999 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis had talks yesterday with the political leadership of the defence ministry to prepare for today's meeting of the Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defence (KYSEA) which will focus on the ongoing armaments programme of the Greek armed forces.

    National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said the main topic on today's agenda will be the procurement of new combat aircraft within the framework of long-term planning to boost the strength of the Hellenic Air Force.

    The main contenders for the lucrative contract are the US-manufactured F-16 and F-15, the French Mirage 2000-5, the Russian Sukhoy and the European Eurofighter.

    The choice of a medium-range anti-aircraft missile system and the purchase of aircraft for training and transport will also be put to KYSEA for final approval today.

    Replying to reporters' questions, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos declined to say whether any decision would be taken regarding the new combat aircraft at today's meeting, since there were "many parameters" involved.

    Yesterday's meeting, which lasted two-and-a-half hours, was attended also by Deputy National Defence Minister Dimitris Apostolakis.

    Gov't spokesman : KYSEA will preoccupy itself with the course of the armaments programme during its meeting today, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said yesterday.

    Replying to a question, he said it was legitimate on the part of manufacturing companies to promote their products in light of the decision on the purchase of fighter aircraft. However, he added that the government will take its decisions with the natio nal interest in mind.

    Replying to another questionon whether different views existed between ministers, Mr. Reppas said this issue has not been discussed anywhere for him to be aware of whether different views exist. He expressed certainty that relevant decisions will be taken unanimously.

    Athens News Agency

    [12] Thrace no battleground for nationalistic squabbles,Papandreou says

    Athens 12/02/1999 (ANA)

    Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou yesterday condemned the bomb blast earlier this week near the Turkish consulate in the northern Greek town of Komotini, saying the government would not allow Thrace to become a battleground for "nationalistic squabbles and the activities of agents".

    Mr. Papandreou was addressing Parliament on the third day of a five-day debate on the Treaty of Amsterdam.

    "Greece is in a position and has the will to protect the rights of its Moslem Greek citizens, the majority of whom live in Thrace," Papandreou told the House.

    The blast occurred Monday night across the street from the consulate on the first floor of a half-completed building, about 20 metres from the consulate's courtyard.

    The area had been cordoned off by police after they received an anonymous warning call about the bomb. A subsequent examination of the bomb by police revealed that it was unlikely to have had any impact on the Turkish consulate.

    Greece's charge d'affaires in Ankara was summoned to the foreign ministry on Tuesday. Ankara lodged a protest over the explosion and demanded the immediate arrest of the perpetrators. Earlier, the Greek government had issued a strong condemnation of the attack, which injured a bomb disposal expert, underlining that such actions were aimed at harming Greek-Turkish relations.

    Athens News Agency

    [13] President Stephanopoulos to begin Austria visit on Monday

    VIENNA 12/02/1999 (ANA - D. Dimitrakoudis)

    President Kostis Stephanopoulos expressed support for the assumption of joint efforts by Greece and Austria for peace and security in the Balkans, in an interview with the Austrian News Agency yesterday on the occasion of the three-day official visit he will be making to Austria as of February 15. It will be the first visit to this country by a head of the Greek state.

    Mr. Stephanopoulos expressed Greece's special satisfaction over the results of the Austrian European Union Presidency during which, as he said, various difficult issues were promoted such as the Agenda 2000, enlargement, the euro and the combatting of unemployment.

    Athens News Agency

    [14] Publication on Mt Sinai monastery presented in Athens

    Athens 12/02/1999 (ANA)

    The Mount Sinai Foundation yesterday presented a publication on archaeological finds in the monastery of St. Catherine's, during an event in Athens, in the presence of Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos and Archbishop of Sinai Damianos.

    The volume, entitled "The Holy Monastery and the Archbishopric of Sinai. The new finds" includes a chronicle of the discovery and excerpts of a series of manuscripts found in the northern wall of the monastery 20 years ago.

    The manuscripts rival in importance the Dead Sea scrolls as they chronicle the thousand year historical period of the Byzantine empire, hidden in one of the very few monasteries not to be affected by the iconoclastic period.

    "The manuscripts cover a time period, which includes all of the Byzantine millenium and all the post- Byzantine period, while they stem from many regions of the East," Mr. Venizelos said.

    The monastic community has voiced its demand for the return of parts of the finds from the British Museum.

    Athens News Agency

    [15] Personal beliefs not persecuted in Greece, gov't says

    Athens 12/02/1999 (ANA)

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas yesterday said that personal beliefs were not persecuted in Greece.

    Mr. Reppas was replying to questions regarding newspaper articles on the sect "Concerned Christians" and whether their presence here was causing concern to the government.

    "Each person has a free choice on the elements that comprise his personal life and his political beliefs" Mr. Reppas said, adding that "what matters is that everyone lives in accordance with the law".

    The spokesman said that Greek law protects citizens who do not commit illegal acts and he clarified that nobody may turn against them, while violators will be automatically confronted by the law and justice.

    "We have not conducted any special investigations and we have no particular reason to be concerned" Mr. Reppas said, adding that "a lot has been written about this issue, however, it is not confirmed by the facts".

    Church sounds alarm on sects : Leading Church officials yesterday warned of an increase in the number of sects and quasi-religious groups in Greece and said the Church needed to be on its guard.

    "Sects and quasi-religious groups are knocking on our door. We need vigilance (and) to protect and strengthen the promotion of Orthodox teachings in our society. The problem has taken on enormous dimensions," Metropolitan of Fillipos, Neapolis and Thass os Prokopios told a seminar on sects, the occult and the quasi-religious in the northern Greek town of Kavala on Wednesday.

    The coming of the third millennium was accompanied by increased propaganda from cults and quasi-religious groups, he warned.

    Archmandrite Chrysostomos Maidonis said many sects had resorted to quasi- scientific methods to attract new members.

    "Modern sects use a scientific facade to lure their victims," he said. "They draw on scientific terms to name their group and their activities," he said.

    Athens News Agency

    [16] Euro-MPs urge Blair to return Parthenon Marbles

    STRASBOURG 12/02/1999 (ANA-Reuters)

    The European Parliament has written to British Prime Minister Tony Blair urging him to return the Parthenon Marbles to Greece, assemby members said yesterday.

    The parliamentrary petition said opinion polls showed that a substantial majority of Britons favoured handing them back.

    On January 15, 339 of 626 Eurodeputies signed the statement of British Euro- MP Alfred Lomas, fervent supporter of the Greek petition, followed by an unprecedented decision by the European Parliament for the reutrn of the Parthenon friezes arguing that this "would constitute a crucial move for the promotion of our common European cultural heritage" .

    Athens News Agency

    [17] Bulgari chooses Athens for premiere new leather collection

    Athens 12/02/1999 (ANA)

    The world premiere of the new Bulgari collection of leather accessories and silk goods will take place in Athens on Sunday, in the context of events marking the twinning of the Greek capital and Rome.

    Rome Mayor Francesco Rutelli will be the guest of honour at the opening of the new Bulgari-Kaissaris shop at 8 Voukourestiou street, to be inaugurated by Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos, when the new collection will be put on display for the first time.

    Bulgari House president Paolo Bulgari will also be on hand for the premiere, organised in cooperation with well-known Greek jeweller Costas Kaissaris, who said the event was "in the spirit of cultural and economic cooperation between these two historic cities of Europe".

    The photographic exhibition "Fashion against AIDS" will also be on display during the ceremony.

    Athens News Agency

    [18] Supreme Court rules on foreign companies in Greece

    Athens 12/02/1999 (ANA)

    A Supreme Court Plenum, overuling a previous decision taken by an appeals' court, has said that a foreign company headquartered in Greece is subject to adjudication before Greek law courts, whose competence and international jurisdiction is determined on the basis of the location of the company's actual headquarters.

    The case concerned insurance premiums for a ship against risks at sea, amounting to three million dollars, plus interest. The freighter "Mnimosyni" sank on May 7, 1992 and the insurance risk was realised.

    The company "Prometheus Maritime Corporation" which had insured the ship in the interests of the shipowning company "Sanne-face Marine LMD" with Lloyds in London requested that the insurance premiums be paid to the latter company.

    However, the lawsuit was rejected by the appeals' court on the grounds that the jurisdiction of Greek courts is not substantiated because the base of the former company is in Liberia and of the latter in Cyprus and that of the insurance company in London.

    However, the first two companies are established and operate in the northern Athens suburb of Kifisia, where their actual administration is being exercised.

    Athens News Agency

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