|Sunday, 25 February 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 11-08-30
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Tuesday, 30 August 2011 Issue No: 3876
 Eurobank-Alpha Bank merger deal welcomedAthens-listed Alpha Bank president Yiannis Costopoulos on Monday welcomed, as a "major step forward", the bank's pending merger with Athens-listed EFG Eurobank, which was officially announced earlier in the day.
Costopoulos told a press conference that "we are creating the biggest Greek bank ... It is a major step forward in the rationalisation of the (banking) system. We always said the (domestic) banking system has too many banks," he said.
Costopoulos added that a "European-size" bank was being created, the 22nd or 23rd in ranking in Europe, due to "the first foreign investment in this country in many years, the investment of Qatar, which comprises a vote of confidence for Greece".
From all aspects, he continued, "it is a very important step".
Eurobank president Timos Christodoulou, in turn, called the new bank to emerge from the merger a "basis for the recovery of the economy when we exit the crisis, and a developmental vehicle for Greece", adding that Qatari participation will serve as an example for other economies.
Christodoulou said the new credit organisation will be a model for other similar initiatives, "so that we can develop with a dynamism that characterises Greece".
Alpha Bank CEO Dimitris Mantzounis said the "key to success" was that the two banks "speak the same language, share the same principles, the same values", adding that the new bank will be top in Greece in all banking activities.
"We have the most desired international shareholder with us, and aspire to synergies of 650 million euros over the next three years," he added.
Bank of Greece Gov. George Provopoulos called the merger deal "the first landmark step in the process of redesigning the Greek banking map".
The Bank of Greece (BOG) chief added that the substantial reinforcement of the capital of the new bank, the friendly agreement between the two partner banks, the participation of a powerful foreign investor and the exploitation of synergies constitute an optimistic prospect for the Greek economy and banking system.
Provopoulos reiterated that such strategic moves contribute decisively to boosting the competitiveness of the banking system and fiscal stability.
Greek government vice president and Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos welcomed the deal as a "positive development that shows the dynamism and prospects of the Greek banking system", adding that the initiative proves that the current crisis can serve as an opportunity for structural moves that give impetus to the fiscal sphere and also the sphere of the real economy.
He also described as significant the participation in the new banking scheme of Qatar "which is investing in Greece and sending internationally a message of confidence in the potential of the Greek economy".
Earlier, Development, Competitiveness & Shipping minister Mihalis Chryssohoidis said the merger of the two banks, when completed, will give a new mark to the market inside and outside Greece, the mark of confidence that the Greek economy has the prerequisites for recovery and viability.
Replying to a press question, the minister said that in the coming period the country will require a healthy banking system that will provide the necessary liquidity to the market.
Under the terms of the merger deal, Eurobank biggest share-holders, the Latsis family, and Alpha Bank's major shareholders, the Costopoulos family, will hold 13 percent and 4 percent stakes, respectively, in the new bank, while Qatar's Paramount Services Holding will have a 17-percent stake.
 Main opposition ND: Merger a 'correct strategic move'Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras on Monday welcomed as a "correct strategic move" the planned merger of Greece's second and third largest banks that was formally announced earlier in the day.
The EFG Eurobank-Alpha Bank merger aiming to create a new bank is a "correct strategic move that contributes to the stability of the Greek banking system", Samaras said, adding that "it is the response to the challenges faced today by the Greek banking system chiefly due to the government's inadequacy".
Samaras said that the creation of a "powerful banking group, with a strong presence both inside and outside Greece and with high capital adequacy rates, also addresses a restructuring of the Greek debt and a possible increase in risks due to the big recession".
He stressed that the stability of the Greek banking system is a necessary prerequisite so that government and credit institutions, with the proper initiatives that, unfortunately, are lacking today, may channel the required liquidity to the markets for re-starting the real economy and bringing the country out of the crisis.
 Europarliament econ and monetary affairs committee to hold extraordinary meeting on MondayThe European Parliament's Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee (ECON) is holding an extraordinary meeting in Brussels on Monday afternoon to discuss the situation in the eurozone.
The meeting, which begins at 4:00 p.m. Athens time, is being held to address the situation in the sovereign debt markets.
It will hold two debates, the first concerning "Monetary and economic policy issues raised by the current situation in the sovereign debt markets" with the President of the European Central Bank (ECB) Jean-Claude Trichet, and the second on "Restoring market confidence: legislative and institutional responses" with the President of the Eurogroup Jean-Claude Juncker, Minister of Finance of Poland (Council Presidency) Jacek Rostowski and Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs Olli Rehn.
The aim is to hear from key actors on the steps taken to address the crisis, and to allow ECON Members to express their views as to the priorities for its resolution.
The meeting is being convened amidst the Europarliament's summer recess.
 PM's schedule for week; gov't again dismisses snap election prospectPrime Minister George Papandreou on Tuesday will have consecutive meetings with representatives of productive classes, ahead of his visit and address at the annual Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) next month.
On Wednesday, Papandreou will chair a Cabinet meeting expected to focus on a draft law for referendums in the country.
Meanwhile, the Greek PM is scheduled to travel to Paris on Thursday to participate in a Contact Group for Libya summit, which has been convened by French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Moreover, government spokesman Ilias Mosialos again dismissed speculation that snap elections are looming, given a string of high-profile statements by ministers on the possibility over the past few days. He added that the government desires a consensus, but not a status of co-governance.
 PASOK Political Council to meet Tuesday afternoonThe ruling PASOK party's political council will meet on Tuesday afternoon at the party headquarters, it was announced on Monday.
The political council, chaired by prime minister and PASOK president George Papandreou, will meet at 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday.
Mossialos reiterates necessity of consensus on major issues
Government spokesman Elias Mossialos on Monday stressed that consensus on the major issues is necessary, but charged that main opposition New Democracy had not given any such indications.
Speaking on private Real FM radio station, Mossialos said that deep consensus procedures are necessary that will be tried in action, before anything else is discussed, replying to a question on the prospect of co-governance.
He added that there is no "culture of consensus" in Greece, as the prevailing perception is that someone wins and someone loses in a consensus process, while the public interest does not appear to benefit from it.
On the reported imminent merger of Eurobank and Alpha Bank, Greece's second and third largest banks, Mossialos said that larger sizes in the Greek banking market are useful in order to boost liquidity, given that it is the banking system that can lead to a jump start of the economy.
On information of the participation of Qatari capital in the new banking scheme to arise from the merger, Mossialos said that the banking system is international and the inflow of foreign capital is a vote of confidence in the Greek economy.
 FinMin to brief ND leader on Tues.Government Vice President and Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos will meet with main opposition New Democracy party leader Antonis Samaras on Tuesday morning.
According to an announcement by the ministry, Venizelos will brief Samaras on the framework of discussions with "troika" representatives on the course decisions of a Eurozone summit of July 21, as well as the second bailout package for Greece.
The meeting will take place at ND's main offices.
In a related development from Brussels, European Central Bank (ECB) president Jean-Claude Trichet appealed on Monday for the full and immediate implementation of the July 21 agreement.
Trichet called on Eurozone member-states' governments to faithfully observe their signatures concerning Greece something that, as he said, is a decisive factor for the return to viable public finances and the normalisation of markets' operation.
 Work group to monitor on weekly basis implementation of Medium-Term FrameworkA special 10-member work group, that will monitor on a weekly basis the implementation of the Medium-Term Framework and the course of the implementation of its measures will be created at the State General Accounting Office.
In parallel, with the same decision by Alternate Finance Minister Filippos Sahinidis, the group in question will also monitor the public sector's debts due to third parties that exceed 6.6 billion euros at the end of July.
 Favourable decision for religious minorities' property in TurkeyANKARA (ANA-MPA / A. Abatzis)
Significant changes in support of religious minorities' public benefit (charities) foundations in Turkey were published over the weekend in the government gazette here, following a relevant government decree announced on Aug. 22.
Such charities are known as "Vakufs" in Turkey.
The development coincided with a high-profile "Iftar" reception Sunday in honor of Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Recep Erdogan, hosted in Istanbul by the country's non-Muslim religious leaders, including Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew (Vartholomeos).
Based on a revision of the law on Vakufs, Greek minority public benefit foundations stand to re-acquire property for which no title holder is listed, along with property that has been transferred to the state's registry, the Vakuf general directorate, municipalities and prefectures through appropriation, purchases and land exchanges. Additionally, the control of several cemeteries will also return to the charities, as municipalities had assumed control.
In all three cases, affected properties had been listed by the religious minority foundations in 1936.
Under the new law, foundations must file a request within 12 months, which will conceivably be satisfied after an evaluation by the Vakufs directorate.
Compensation, at current market values, will be paid for property taken from foundations and subsequently sold to third parties.
One of the issues not resolved via the new law is the matter of so-called "occupied vakufs", foundations that have been appropriated by the Turkish state with their property and their board of directors. Amongst such entities are 24 that belong to Turkey's Greek Orthodox minority.
 PPI up 9.1pct in JulyGreece's Producer Price Index in Industry recorded a rise of 9.1% in July 2011 compared with July 2010, the independent Hellenic Statistical Authority ELSTAT said on Monday.
ELSTAT, in a report, said that the Producer Price Index in Industry (PPI) in July 2011 compared with July 2010 recorded a rise of 9.1%. The index in July 2010 had recorded an increase of 6.1% compared with July 2009.
The PPI in July 2011 compared with June 2011 recorded a rise of 1.1%. The index in July 2010 had recorded an decrease of 1.1% compared with June 2010.
The twelve-month average index, from August 2010 to July 2011, compared with the same index of the period from August 2009 to July 2010, increased by 7.1%. The previous year the twelve-month average index had increased by 2.9%.
 Exceptional bourse rally fuelled by banks' mergerStocks on Monday posted their biggest single-day increase in the history of the Athens Stock Exchange, lifting off on the heels of the Alpha Bank-Eurobank merger deal and erasing most of last week's loses at the bourse, especially in the banking sector.
Alpha Bank's share price posted gains of 30 pct; 29.48 pct for Eurobank.
The general index was up 14.37 pct to shoot past the 1,000-point mark, closing at 1,006.59.
Turnover was an improved 86.77 million euros.
The Big Cap index posted an eyebrow-raising gain of 17.79 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 15.02 pct higher and the Small Cap index was up 12.62 pct.
All of the sector indices moved higher, with banks (29.12 pct), Financial Services (26.17) and Utilities (22.26) posting the biggest percentage gains of the day.
Broadly, advancers outpaced decliners by 171 to 13 with another 22 issues remained unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +11.95%
Personal & Household: +8.25%
Raw Materials: +22.15%
Travel & Leisure: +7.70%
Food & Beverages: +2.48%
Financial Services: +26.17%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Bank of Cyprus and OTE.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 2.47
Public Power Corp (PPC): 6.81
HBC Coca Cola: 14.94
Hellenic Petroleum: 5.80
National Bank of Greece: 3.59
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 2.24
Bank of Piraeus: 0.72
 Foreign Exchange rates - TuesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.470
Pound sterling 0.897
Danish kroner 7.562
Swedish kroner 9.252
Japanese yen 112.72
Swiss franc 1.200
Norwegian kroner 7.890
Canadian dollar 1.436
Australian dollar 1.385
 Evros major wildfire abatingA major wildfire that broke out in the southern part of Evros prefecture on Wednesday was reported as abating on Monday morning, after burning thousands of hectares of forest land and farm cultivations.
The fire was partially contained on Sunday as massive efforts by land and air continued to tackle the blaze, although hampered by strong winds.
Evros deputy regional director Georgia Nicolaou told ANA-MPA that, according to early estimates, the blaze has burned approximately 7,500 acres of forest and cultivations in a perimeter of 15,000 acres.
 Austrian police intercept 30 illegals aboard Greece-based busVIENNA (ANA-MPA / D. Dimitrakoudis)
A Greek-plated tourist coach carrying 30 Afghan illegal immigrants, concealed in specially shaped compartments, was intercepted by Austrian police outside Vienna at dawn on Monday.
According to an announcement by the Vienna department of Federal Police, 26 Greek citizens and seven Afghans were in the coach, whereas police detected an additional 22 people, including minors, under the floor boards.
 Seven foreign migrant-smugglers,19 illegal migrants interceptedThree migrant-smugglers from Bulgaria were arrested and 14 illegal migrants were detained by Sapes border police on Monday on the Mesti-Komotini stretch of Egnatia Highway.
The three migrant smugglers were arrested after the illegal migrants were found in the two vehicles they were driving.
Police initially stopped one car, driven by a 45-year-old Bulgarian, which was carrying the illegal migrants, and subsequently stopped a second car that was acting as a look-out, with a 38-year-old and a 50-year-old Bulgarian on board.
Twelve of the illegal migrants were from Iraq, and the other two from Somalia.
Earlier, in a separate incident, Alexandroupolis police arrested another 29-year-old Bulgarian migrant-smuggler after a chase, and detained one illegal migrant in the car while four others fled and were wanted. The arrest was made after the Bulgarian driver rammed into the protective side bars on Egnatia Highway during the chase.
In a third incident on Egnatia Highway outside Alexandroupolis, a 45-year-old Bulgarian migrant-smuggler was arrested after four illegal migrants were found in his car during a spot check.
The four vehicles used in the three incidents were confiscated, while the 7 migrant-smugglers and 19 illegal migrants will appear before prosecutors in Komotini and Alexandroupolis.
 Fair on TuesdayFair weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Tuesday, with wind velocity reaching 3-6 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 14C and 34C. Fair in Athens, with southerly 3-4 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 21C to 33C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 20C to 31C.
 The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe imminent merger of Alpha Bank and Eurobank and economic issues dominated the front pages of Athens' dailies on Monday.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Alpha Bank and Eurobank to merge".
AVGHI: "Top businessmen Spyros Latsis (Eurobank) and Yiannis Kostopoulos (Alpha Bank) radically changing the economic landscape in Greece".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Banking embankment against the tempest of the crisis".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Breather 'marriage' with 150 billion euros dowry".
ESTIA: "Alpha-Eurobank merging".
ETHNOS: "Banking frenzy following the big 'deal'."
IMERISSIA: "The big bank - The merger brings domino of developments".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Alpha-Eurobank agreement that upsets the status quo".
TA NEA: "Quota being introduced in civil servants' promotions with new promotion system".
VRADYNI: "Hurricane hits pensions".
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