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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 99-06-10

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] Gov't continues seizures of Belgian food products
  • [02] G. Papandreou: Thessaloniki at the centre of Balkan reconstruction effort
  • [03] Market welcomes buyout plan by EFG Eurobank, Deutsche Bank
  • [04] Stocks nose up in cautious trade
  • [05] Bourse chief says no shortfalls among brokerages
  • [06] Bank of Cyprus set to be first foreign firm on Athens bourse
  • [07] Thessaloniki share centre shows turnover jump
  • [08] IOBE seminar on capitalising from 2004 challenges
  • [09] Alpha Credit Bank share capital increase
  • [10] Athens Foreign Exchange
  • [11] Finnish FM Halonen in Athens for talks
  • [12] KKE against gov't intent to send peacekeepers to Kosovo
  • [13] Black Sea Trade & Development Bank begins operation
  • [14] Britain's Burns takes 46th Acropolis Rally
  • [15] Figures released on foreign workers in Greece
  • [16] Kusturica cites double standard in West's treatment of Yugoslavia

  • [01] Gov't continues seizures of Belgian food products

    Athens, 10/06/1999 (ANA)

    Greece's development and agriculture ministers announced yesterday that a laboratory equipped to test food products on dioxin-content would soon be established in the country.

    Development Minister Evangelos Venizelos also told reporters after an inter- ministerial meeting that there were no problems with domestic fresh pasteurised milk, while Agriculture Minister George Anomeritis reiterated that Greece did not import animal feed from Belgium.

    The ministers said the Greek government would demand from the responsible EU bodies that uniform controls are established for foodstuffs in the EU.

    Replying to questions, Mr. Venizelos said evaporated light milk imported from Belgium had been seized.

    Mr. Anomeritis gave reassurances that the animal feed sector, where the dioxin contamination originated, was tested and it was verified that no animal feed originating from Belgian suppliers had been imported or used by Greece's industries.

    Based on official data, the agriculture ministry has confiscated 80-90 per cent of foodstuff imports from Belgium, including 198 tonnes of beef, 356 tonnes of pork, 683 tonnes of poultry, 136 tonnes of other meat products, 949 tonnes of milk and its by-products, 12 tonnes of eggs and 187 tonnes of egg products.

    Replying to questions regarding the impounding of products mainly used by vulnerable groups, such as breastfeeding mothers and children, both ministers said that fresh pasteurised milk is locally produced.

    Athens News Agency

    [02] G. Papandreou: Thessaloniki at the centre of Balkan reconstruction effort

    Athens, 10/06/1999 (ANA)

    Foreign Minister George Papandreou yesterday said that Thessaloniki will become the centre for efforts aimed at the reconstruction of Yugoslavia.

    Speaking in a pre-election PASOK rally in Larisa, Mr. Papandreou said "the reconstruction of Yugoslavia should forge ahead without terms and conditions. The terms and conditions of the peace process should be enough for Yugoslavia to be included in the process of reconstruction."

    He added Greece's efforts toward peace have promoted it as a reliable partner.

    Mr. Papandreou will depart for Cologne today to sign the Stability Pact.

    Finally, Mr. Papadreou announced an international conference in Thessaloniki next month for the coordination of humanitarian aid efforts in the region.

    Athens News Agency

    [03] Market welcomes buyout plan by EFG Eurobank, Deutsche Bank

    Athens, 10/06/1999 (ANA)

    Market players yesterday welcomed a move by EFG Eurobank with Deutsche Bank to acquire a majority stake in Ergobank, a blue chip on the Athens bourse.

    An abrupt rise in the Athens share index early in the session stemmed from euphoria about the acquisition.

    In a plan announced on Tuesday, the two banks aim to buy a maximum 50.1 percent stake in Ergobank but would settle for a minimum of 33.4 percent.

    Deutsche Bank is already a shareholder in EFG Eurobank, which is a member of the Latsis Group that recently gained listing on the Athens bourse.

    Both Ergobank and EFG Eurobank ended eight percent higher yesterday, at the daily upper volatility limit.

    On Tuesday, EFG Eurobank's parent, Consolidated Eurofinance Holdings, raised its existing 9.41 stake in Ergobank to 15.57 percent through block trades on the Athens Stock Exchange.

    The purchase was effected through the acquisition of 2.16 percent of Ergobank's shares through the stock market, and the acquisition of a 4.01 stake by EFG Eurobank.

    Consolidated Eurofinance Holdings and Deutsche Bank together own 20.57 percent of Ergobank.

    The EFG Bank Group is offering shareholders of Ergobank 110 shares in EFG Eurbank for 50 held in Ergobank plus a cash sum of 200,000 drachmas per block.

    The month-long share offer will be held as soon as the prospectus is endorsed by the Athens Stock Exchange and the capital markets commission. A licence from the central bank is also needed.

    The move will make the EFG Banking Group the third largest in Greece, following the National Bank of Greece Group and Alpha Credit Bank Group.

    Athens News Agency

    [04] Stocks nose up in cautious trade

    Athens, 10/06/1999 (ANA)

    Equity prices ended slightly higher yesterday reflecting caution among investors over talk of liquidity problems facing brokerages.

    The general index ended 0.15 percent higher at 4,060.10 points, sharply off the day's highs of 2.19 percent early in the session.

    Traders said a wave of profit-taking hit the market and partly reversed a rally, which was spurred by the acquisition of stock in listed Ergobank by EFG Eurobank and Deutsche Bank of Germany.

    Dominating the market later in the session were profit-taking and worries about rumoured shortfalls among brokers.

    Trading focused on Ergobank, Eurobank, General Bank and Duty Free Shops, which is in the final stage of a new privatisation attempt.

    Turnover was 180.959 billion drachmas with 33,010,984 shares changing hands.

    Sector indices ended as follows: Banks (+1.15 pct), Leasing (+0.63 pct), Insurance (+0.28 pct), Investment (+0.96 pct), Construction (-2.29 pct), Industrials (-0.84 pct), Miscellaneous (-1.20 pct) and Holding (-1.23 pct). The parallel market index fo r smaller capitalisation stocks ended 0.24 percent lower, while the FTSE/ASE 20 index for heavily traded stocks and blue chips rose 0.57 percent to 2,431.93 points.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 163 to 120 with another 13 issues unchanged.

    Sportsman, Ergo Invest and Mytilineos were the most heavily traded stocks.

    A total of 28 issues ended at the day's 8.0 percent limit up, while another two ended at the day's limit down.

    National Bank of Greece ended at 22,010 drachmas, Alpha Credit Bank at 21, 450, Ergobank at 30,996, Ionian Bank at 16,860, Titan Cement at 29,000, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,910, Intracom at 21,150, Minoan Lines at 9,170, Panafon at 8,300 and Hellenic Telecoms at 7,450. Olympic Catering's share price jumped 81.6 pct to end at 3,450 drachmas in its first day of trading in the market.

    Bond prices edge up in minimal trade : Bond prices in the secondary market gained 5-10 basis points in extremely slim trade with dealers talking of capital outflows from European markets into the US due to an abrupt rise in the yield of the country's 30-year bond.

    Electronic trade was 12 billion drachmas from 75 billion drachmas in the previous session and 45 billion drachmas on Monday.

    The yield spread with German bunds was 162 basis points from 164 basis points a day earlier and 163 basis points on Monday.

    The ten-year bond was trading around 103.20 to show a yield of 5.85 percent.

    In the foreign currency market, the euro slid against the drachma.

    At the central bank's daily fix, the euro was set at 323.950 drachmas from 323.960 drachmas in the previous session.

    The central bank intervened to curb the drachma's ascent, buying 90 million euros at the fix.

    Athens News Agency

    [05] Bourse chief says no shortfalls among brokerages

    THESSALONIKI, 10/06/1999 (ANA)

    The chairman of the Athens Stock Exchange,Spyros Kouniakis, said yesterday that ALKI Securities was in the clear regarding settlement with the bourse, and no other brokerages faced settlement problems.

    Mr. Kouniakis said that any decision to lift a trading suspension on ALKI Securities would be based on the company's financial status, which is due to emerge from a clearance probe whose findings are expected today.

    "The final decision (on lifting the suspension) will be taken next week," he said.

    ASE's chairman said that representatives of brokerages had assured him that the firms were not facing liquidity problems.

    Mr. Kouniakis urged investors to follow market regulations and rules in their transactions in the market.

    Athens News Agency

    [06] Bank of Cyprus set to be first foreign firm on Athens bourse

    Athens, 10/06/1999 (ANA)

    The Bank of Cyprus will be the first foreign company to be listed on the Athens Stock Exchange, the bank's chairman told the Athens News Agency in an interview.

    Solon Triantafyllides, who heads the Bank of Cyprus Group, also said that the bank planned to set up an insurance desk in Greece to provide services for the bank's customers.

    According to Mr. Triantafyllides, the financial system in Cyprus will benefit from a forthcoming liberalisation, and there was no danger of a massive capital outflow from the country.

    Mr. Triantafyllides urged for a collective effort to transform Cyprus into a centre for international services, a move that would reduce the country's economic dependance on tourism.

    The Cypriot government should take further measures to reduce fiscal deficits to the level of the Maastricht criteria, and Value Added Tax could be increased to help reduce the shortfall, he said.

    The Bank of Cyprus chairman expects economic growth in the island republic to slow to around 4.0 percent in 1999 from 5.0 percent last year; inflation to rise slightly; and unemployment to drop marginally.

    Mr. Triantafyllides forecast a rise in the Cypriot fiscal deficit to 5.9 percent of the country's gross domestic product.

    Commenting on Cyprus' negotiations for entry into the European Union, he said that March 30, 1998, which marked the start of the talks, had been an historic day for the country.

    "The way ahead is not easy. But it is road we must take as it is the only road for Cyprus, and we do not have any other alternatives."

    He urged for a change in trade and market policies by the island's government.

    "We must abandon protectionism," he said.

    The country's political problem would have to be faced on completion of entry negotiations with the EU. "Nevertheless, I hope Cyprus will be accepted in Europe regardless of whether its political problem has been solved or not," Mr. Triantafyllides said.

    He underlined the importance of Greece's support for Cyprus' EU membership application.

    The Cypriot banker said that the biggest problem currently facing his country's banking system was the need for modernisation through a liberalisation of interest rates and the abolition of capital controls.

    He said that the introduction of the euro had not yet affected the country's financial system. The Cyprus pound is directly linked with the euro, as it was before with the Ecu. Cypriot banks were well prepared to meet the single European currency.

    Mr. Triantafillides said that Greece remained the bank's main strategic lynchpin for growth in international markets and that the prospects were particularly positive.

    "Our decision is to achieve growth from within the bank and without takeovers or mergers," he noted.

    The Bank of Cyprus already operates 15 branches, aiming to raise its network to 22 branches by the end of the year to 30 by the end of 2000.

    Mr. Triantafyllides said that the Bank of Cyprus would be the first foreign company to be listed on the Athens Stock Exchange.

    The decision on entry lay with the board of the Athens Stock Exchange.

    A condition for entry was that a 15 percent stake of the bank's equity would be offered to foreign investors. Mr. Triantafyllides said that the Bank of Cyprus Group's operating profit in the first quarter of 1999 totalled 15.2 million Cyprus pounds from 12.6 million in the same period last year, an increase of 20.4 percent.

    Athens News Agency

    [07] Thessaloniki share centre shows turnover jump

    THESSALONIKI, 10/06/1999 (ANA)

    Turnover at the Thessaloniki stock exchange centre rose to 1.8 trillion drachmas in January-May this year compared with 1.5 trillion drachmas in the whole of 1998, its chairman Spyros Kouniakis said yesterday.

    Addressing an annual general assembly, Mr. Kouniakis - also chairman of the Athens Stock Exchange - said he expected this year's turnover to exceed three trillion drachmas bringing profits of more than 300 million drachmas.

    He said that a number of securities firms had expressed interest in entering the Thessaloniki stock exchange centre and that he expected five or six of them to be accepted by the end of the year.

    Mr. Kouniakis also said that the switch to paperless trading was progressing smoothly and should be completed by the end of 1999.

    He repeated that the bourse's trading hours would be extended until 15.00 pm in the summer, as part of a pilot programme, and that the ASE's shares would be listed on the market following its annual general assembly.

    Mr. Kouniakis said that the Thessaloniki stock exchange centre had four targets:

  • to cover northern Greece and help in a decentralisation process for the country's capital market through an online link with the Athens bourse
  • to promote a market culture in the country's regions
  • to attract dynamic new companies from northern Greece into the capital market
  • to attract companies from the Balkans, the Black Sea and other emerging markets.
    Athens News Agency

    [08] IOBE seminar on capitalising from 2004 challenges

    Athens, 10/06/1999 (ANA)

    Representatives of the Economic and Industrial Research Foundation (IOBE) said yesterday that the country should turn the three major challenges of know-how, education and tourism into opportunities for a better tomorrow, during a press conference focusin g on the issue of "The Contribution of Olympic Facilities to Greek Economic Development After 2004".

    The utilisation of Olympic facilities after the 2004 Games could constitute, according to IOBE, a lever for the achievement of accelerated rates of development. IOBE also reiterated a proposal it had made several months ago for turning the Olympic Villa ge into a university and "technopolis" of Attica.

    IOBE said that the utilisation, parallel to the Olympic Village, of relevant space at Hellenikon airport for the creation of a model settlement of semi-permanent winter-summer stays can lead, according to conservative assessments by the foundation, to an increase in GDP by 1.9 per cent and to the creation of about 90,000 jobs, in the medium term, while on a long-term basis GDP can increase up to 13.8 per cent and jobs by 650,000.

    IOBE mentioned that if the government follows its option and invests 2,750 million euros, then the long-term benefits from the appropriate exploitation of the Olympic undertaking can possibly increase the monthly income of the average Greek family by 13 0,000 drachmas.

    Athens News Agency

    [09] Alpha Credit Bank share capital increase

    Athens, 10/06/1999 (ANA)

    Alpha Credit Bank successfully concluded an increase in its share capital by 132 billion drachmas yesterday, increasing the bank's own capital to 518 billion drachmas.

    The increase in share capital was considered necessary to enable the bank, following the buyout of a majority stake in Ionian Bank, to maintain the indicator of its capital adequacy at a level exceeding 10 per cent. Meanwhile, the Ionian's general assem bly will take place on June 29, during which the course of its merger processes with Alpha Credit Bank are expected to be disclosed.

    The merger between the two banks, according to past statements by Alpha Credit Bank President Yiannis Kostopoulos, is expected to be completed by spring next year.

    Athens News Agency

    [10] Athens Foreign Exchange

    Athens, 10/06/1999 (ANA)

    Bank of Greece klosing rates of: June 10, 1999

    Parities in Drachmas

    Banknotes             Buying  Selling
    US Dollar             306.528 313.635
    Can.Dollar            207.884 212.703
    Australian Dlr        203.162 207.872
    Pound Sterling        491.913 503.318
    Irish Punt            408.041 417.502
    Pound Cyprus          555.520 568.400
    Pound Malta           721.039 751.082
    Turkish pound (100)     0.067   0.070
    French franc           48.991  50.127
    Swiss franc           201.644 206.319
    Belgian franc           7.966   8.151
    German Mark           164.308 168.117
    Finnish Mark           54.048  55.301
    Dutch Guilder         145.826 149.207
    Danish Kr.             43.251  44.254
    Swedish Kr.            35.954  36.788
    Norwegian Kr.          39.105  40.011
    Austrian Sh.           23.354  23.895
    Italian lira (100)     16.597  16.982
    Yen (100)             257.067 263.027
    Spanish Peseta          1.931   1.976
    Port. Escudo            1.603   1.640
    
    Foreign Exchange      Buying  Selling
    New York              306.528 313.635
    Montreal              207.884 212.703
    Sydney                203.162 207.872
    London                491.913 503.318
    Dublin                408.041 417.502
    Nicosia               555.520 568.400
    Paris                  48.991  50.127
    Zurich                201.644 206.319
    Brussels                7.966   8.151
    Frankfurt             164.308 168.117
    Helsinki               54.048  55.301
    Amsterdam             145.826 149.207
    Copenhagen             43.251  44.254
    Stockholm              35.954  36.788
    Oslo                   39.105  40.011
    Vienna                 23.354  23.895
    Milan                  16.597  16.982
    Tokyo                 257.067 263.027
    Madrid                  1.931   1.976
    Lisbon                  1.603   1.640
    
    Athens News Agency

    [11] Finnish FM Halonen in Athens for talks

    Athens, 10/06/1999 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis received Finnish FM Tarja Halonen in Athens yesterday, her first stop on a tour of EU capitals in view of Helsinki's assumption of the rotating six-month EU presidency on July 1.

    Ms Halonen, who last month was nominated by her Social Democratic Party for next year's presidential elections in Finland, also held talks earlier in the day with her Geek counterpart George Papandreou and Alternate FM Yiannos Kranidiotis.

    Speaking to reporters after talks between the two countries' foreign ministry delegations, Mr. Papandreou hailed Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari's efforts for "peace soon in Kosovo and for the commencement of reconstruction efforts in the region".

    In addition to the Kosovo crisis, the two delegations also discussed the Finnish EU presidency's priorities, with emphasis on EU enlargement, EU- Turkey relations, Cyprus' EU accession course, the European defence and security identity, a human rights charter, as well as unemployment.

    Ms Halonen stressed the excellent level of relations betweeen the two countries, adding that the Finnish EU presidency placed increased importance on technical reforms in the EU, enlargement, and the efforts to bring the Union closer to the European citizens.

    She also announced that Finland intended to call an extraordinary EU summit in October in the city of Tampere, near Helsinki, on matters concerning protection of the citizen, combatting crime and the building of a Europe that was closer to its citizens.

    Ms Halonen praised Greece, and Mr. Papandreou personally, for their intensive efforts towards finding a political solution to the Yugoslav crisis.

    Acting government spokesman Nikos Athanasakis said later the talks between Mr. Simitis and Ms Halonen had focused on the latest developments in the Yugoslav conflict.

    He said Ms Halonen had expressed satisfaction concerning Athens' active role in efforts to find a peaceful solution to the crisis.

    Mr. Athanasakis stressed that Greece had been active in the entire peace process, with Mr. Papandreou participating in all the efforts made not only in European capitals but also in Bejing and Washington.

    Athens News Agency

    [12] KKE against gov't intent to send peacekeepers to Kosovo

    Athens, 10/06/1999 (ANA)

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga yesterday criticised the government's decision to participate with a brigade in the Kosovo peace force.

    Ms Papariga said "the prime minister is hiding the real role of the Greek brigade and the role of the US marines that pass through Greece destined for Kosovo. Their real role is the one of an occupation army, of an army involved in ground operations.

    "KKE is calling upon the Greek people to be vigilant, because government and opposition claims about the conclusion of peace and the end of the war are not sound. The major problems are still open for the region and for Greece," Ms Papariga concluded. Scores of demonstrators gathered outside Gate 11 at the port of Thessaloniki at noon yesterday and then headed south for Litohoro to participate in protests at the expected disembarcation of US marines headed to Kosovo. The gathering in Thessaloniki was organised by the Communist Party of Greece (KKE).

    Athens News Agency

    [13] Black Sea Trade & Development Bank begins operation

    Athens, 10/06/1999 (ANA)

    The long-awaited operation by the Black Sea Trade & Development Bank (BSTDB) began on June 1, the president of the multinational institution, Ersou Volkan said in Thessaloniki yesterday.

    The development bank will cooperate with similar organisation in efforts to aid private firms investing in regional economies and promoting development in the countries surrounding the Black Sea.

    Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Turkey, the Ukraine and Greece are the trustees of the bank.

    Athens News Agency ISTANBUL 10/06/1999 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)

    The Turkish publishing house Iletisim yesterday presented the Turkish- language edition of Rea Galanakis' novel "The Life of Ismail Ferik Pasha".

    The novel outlines the creation of national identities at the time of the Greek War of Independence in the early 1820s.

    Athens News Agency

    [14] Britain's Burns takes 46th Acropolis Rally

    Athens, 10/06/1999 (ANA)

    Briton Richard Burns was declared the winner of the 46th Acropolis Rally yesterday after withstanding late challenges from Finland's Tommi Makinen and Spaniard Carlos Sainz.

    Mr. Burns, driving a Subaru Imbreza WRC 99, finished the last stage of the rally with a total time of 4 hours 21 minutes and 21.2 seconds.

    Mr. Sainz, in a Toyota Corolla, was second with 4 hours 22 minutes and 22.5 seconds.

    Reigning world champion Makinen finished third with 4 hours 25 minutes and 1.02 seconds.

    The rally began at the foot of the Acropolis in Athens on Sunday when 114 race cars set out to cover a total distance of 1,320 kilometres in central Greece.

    Points gained in the Acropolis Rally count towards the world championship.

    Athens News Agency

    [15] Figures released on foreign workers in Greece

    Athens, 10/06/1999 (ANA)

    About 372,000 foreign nationals have applied for temporary residence permits in Greece, while at least another 200,000 are believed to be working in Greece. In addition, recent developments in the Balkans are expected to increase immigration pressure on t he country.

    The data was revealed at a conference organised yesterday by the National Labour Institute, EKKE, the General Confederation of Workers of Greece's (GSEE) Labour Institute and the Institute of Urban and Rural Sociology.

    Inaugurating the conference, professor Savvas Rombolis said the policy of legalising illegals was an important but difficult decision.

    Professor Th. Lianos said that data show that there is no serious replacement of Greeks by foreigners in the labour market.

    The presence of foreign workers is considered beneficial for small and medium-size enterprises, while most farmers want their presence but with the present status of illegality and, consequently, unconsolidated work.

    Athens News Agency

    [16] Kusturica cites double standard in West's treatment of Yugoslavia

    Athens, 10/06/1999 (ANA)

    Emir Kusturica, the award-winning director whose films have been strongly influenced by the disintegration of his homeland of Yugoslavia, yesterday reiterated that "art was the best way to respond" to what was happening in Yugoslavia.

    The Sarajevo-born Kusturica and his 12-member band played the Athens Lycabettus Theatre yesterday before leaving on 25-city tour of Italy. The tour is called "Colla-teral Damage."

    "You bomb a market and think it is something civilised but at the same time say that Serb bombs are barbaric. This is the irrationality of war, a war which I believe is purely about business," Mr. Kusturica said.

    Mr. Kusturica has won two Palme d'Or awards at the Cannes film festival, once in 1985 for "When Father was Away on Business" and in 1995 for "Underground". He was named Best Director in 1989 for "Time of the Gypsies."

    "Underground" tells the story of a group of resistance fighters who go underground in Belgrade during World War II, making arms to fight the Nazis. When the war ends they are kept in ignorance by resistance leader 'Marko', who convinces them to keep making weapons in their underground city as he pursues his own career, eventually becoming a key figure in the post-war Tito regime.

    Athens News Agency

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