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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 16-01-13

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

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

Wednesday, 13 January 2016 Issue No: 5100

CONTENTS

  • [01] Eldorado Gold to cut workforce if installation license not granted by end-March
  • [02] Eldorado Gold suspends much of its mine construction in Greece
  • [03] The government does not yield to blackmails, says Environment Min Skourletis
  • [04] Companies that respect the law have nothing to fear, says minister on Eldorado decision
  • [05] Eldorado Gold CEO meeting with main opposition leader
  • [06] "No comment" says European Commission on Eldorado Gold's decision for Skouries
  • [07] We hope that New Democracy will find its political orientation, gov't spokeswoman Gerovassili says
  • [08] ND leader accuses government of discrediting Greece to investors after miner's decision
  • [09] ND newly elected leader Mitsotakis' first moves
  • [10] ND leader Mitsotakis meets party members
  • [11] Labour Min Katrougalos on social security reforms
  • [12] President Pavlopoulos meets with Cyprus' DIKO leader Papadopoulos
  • [13] President Pavlopoulos to visit Moscow on January14-15
  • [14] ANA-MPA's cooperation with Sputnik promotes understanding between the two countries, says gov't spokeswoman
  • [15] Defence minister says Greece can set up joint weapons deals with countries outside NATO
  • [16] Less than 5 TV licenses to be granted to private channels, says State minister
  • [17] Foreign Ministry condemns bomb attacks in Baghdad
  • [18] Foreign ministry unequivocally condemns deadly explosion in Istanbul
  • [19] Greek President expresses condolences to German, Turkish envoys for Istanbul terror attack
  • [20] ND leader sends condolences to Turkish PM for terror attack
  • [21] Greek economy to return to positive growth rates in 2016, Piraeus Bank chairman says
  • [22] China's Cosco is sole bidder for stake in Piraeus Port
  • [23] National Bank announces programme to support start-ups
  • [24] Aqurance listed in Deloitte Technology Fast EMEA list
  • [25] Capital market commission extends ban in short selling on Attica Bank shares
  • [26] Greek CEOs more optimistic in Q4 2015, survey
  • [27] Greece records positive hiring/dismissal result in 2015
  • [28] OPAP asks Greek top court to cancel gambling levy
  • [29] Jumbo Group says H1 sales significantly surpass targets
  • [30] Car registrations up 13.5 pct in 2015
  • [31] New terminal at Sitia airport to be inaugurated on Wednesday
  • [32] ASE suspends trading of Piraeus Port shares
  • [33] Greek stocks rebound strongly
  • [34] Greek bond market closing report
  • [35] ADEX closing report
  • [36] Film director Nikos Panayiotopoulos dies
  • [37] Ships to remain docked on 20 and 21 January due to seamen's strike
  • [38] Greek man arrested for trafficking migrants after 123 people found in his truck
  • [39] At least 1,500 refugees arrive at Piraeus port
  • [40] Partly cloudy on Wednesday
  • [41] The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance Politics

  • [01] Eldorado Gold to cut workforce if installation license not granted by end-March

    Eldorado Gold is cutting 600 jobs from its goldmine in Skouries in the next three months, while another 500 jobs in the Olympiada project were under threat if the company failed to receive the necessary installation license by the end of March, Paul Wright, chairman of the multinational company said on Tuesday.

    Speaking to reporters, announcing the decisions to suspend investments in Skouries and of a possible suspension in Olympiada, Wright said that investments in the Stratonio mine, while the Perama and Sapes project in Thrace will be put under maintenance. The Skouries projects has a workforce of 682, of which 600 work for contractors. At the end of the quarter a total of 40-50 will remain for maintenance work and security, while if the investment was to progress another 500 workers would be hired.

    Wright said Eldorado Gold will not leave Greece, unless the government asked the company to leave and expressed his optimism that a solution to the problem would be found. He said that since 2012 the Energy ministry and other public services have failed to issue the necessary licenses and approvals, while in 2015 the ministry moved a step forward and revoked certain basic licenses "without any obvious reason". He said that both sides were binded by the law. "It is our responsibility to act according to environmental, labor and commercial regulations while it is legitimate and contract obligation of the Greek state to timely offer licenses and approvals to allow the investment to succeed," he noted.

    "To have large investments a cooperation with the state was necessary. This process should not be that painful," Wright said, adding that "it would be difficult to say that Greece is a fantastic place to come and invest millions of dollars but the government has the chance to change that". He linked the gold mine affair with an effort to attract foreign investments by saying that investors from the US and Europe were seeing Eldorado's example.

    The company's management will have a series of meetings today and tomorrow in Athens, with political leaders, the Federation of Hellenic Enterprises and with Environment and Energy Minister Panos Skourletis.

    [02] Eldorado Gold suspends much of its mine construction in Greece

    Canadian miner Eldorado Gold Corp on Monday said it will suspend much of its mine construction and development in Greece after a year of confrontations with the Greek government that included permits being revoked and delayed by the state, according to Reuters news agency.

    Eldorado said it will suspend construction at its Skouries project and warned that it would do the same at its Olympias project if it did not receive a permit by the end of March, Reuters said.

    It has halted development work its Perama Hill and Sapes projects but could restart at a later date. The company is also considering whether to halt future expansion of its Stratoni mine, which has around three years of life left.

    Eldorado said in a statement that it would prefer to create more jobs and carry on with construction and development in Greece.

    "However, we have a duty to all our stakeholders and the significant time and process risks created by Greece's Ministry of Energy and Environment have left us with no choice but to reduce activities and personnel," Eldorado Chief Executive Officer Paul Wright said.

    Eldorado has created around 2,000 direct jobs in Greece, it said. It did not say, however, how many jobs would be affected by its reduction in activities. The company has invested more than 300 million dollars in the Skouries project.

    [03] The government does not yield to blackmails, says Environment Min Skourletis

    The government does not succumb to blackmails, Environment and Energy Minister Panos Skourletis on Tuesday said in statements to Praktorio 104.9 FM following "Eldorado Gold" announcement that it partly suspends its construction works at Skouries.

    Skourletis expressed his disappointment over the fact that CEO of the Canadian company, Paul Wright, decided to cancel their scheduled meeting on Tuesday.

    "It may be an attempt to create a fait accompli or an attempt to blackmail. If they think that the Greek government yields to blackmails, they will be proven wrong. Our aim is to respect the environment and the public interest," he said.

    Skourletis sternly criticised those who accuse the government that 2,000 people will lose their job after the retirement of Eldorado from Northern Halkidiki and cleared out that the decision will affects around 830 workers. "When an investment is being evaluated, we must take into account whether other jobs in the same area are undermined," he stated.

    [04] Companies that respect the law have nothing to fear, says minister on Eldorado decision

    Any company that respects the law has nothing to fear, Alternate Minister for the Environment Yiannis Tsironis said on Tuesday, commenting on the decision of Canadian miner Eldorado Gold to halt much of its production in northern Greece.

    "Any company that respects the law, the environmental conditions and the public interest has nothing to fear," the minister said, adding that the European Court proved that Eldorado Gold should not have taken the land without paying the 14.5 million euros it was supposed to pay.

    "I think this is the main reason why the company is now leaving and its stock collapsed. All other arguments, that there were delays, that permits were not given etc. are bad excuses," he added.

    [05] Eldorado Gold CEO meeting with main opposition leader

    Canadian miner Eldorado Gold's Chief Executive Officer Paul Wright is meeting newly elected New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Tuesday to inform him about his company's actions and of its will to invest long-term in Greece and create jobs.

    Arriving at the meeting, Wright said he hoped the country's Council of State will issue a second ruling in the company's favour.

    Eldorado said late on Monday it will suspend much of its mine construction and development in Greece citing confrontations with the Greek government that included permits being revoked and delayed by the state.

    [06] "No comment" says European Commission on Eldorado Gold's decision for Skouries

    BRUSSELS(ANA-MPA/M.Aroni)

    "No comment" was European Commission's reaction to Canadian company Eldorado Gold's decision to suspend part of its construction works and investments in Greek mines at Halkidiki.

    "It is a company decision and we do not make comments on these", European Commission spokesperson Vanessa Mock said. However, Mock underlined that the reforms that Greece has been committed to implement through the adjustment programme aim to boost Greece's competitiveness and attract domestic and international investments.

    [07] We hope that New Democracy will find its political orientation, gov't spokeswoman Gerovassili says

    Government spokeswoman Olga Gerovassili on Tuesday in an interview with Real FM expressed the hope that New Democracy will find its political orientation and will submit proposals in order to help the country exit the crisis.

    Regarding the difficult bills that need to pass in Parliament, she said that the government will give a solution in the benefit of the society and will be judged by the result. "We have the social security issue, the non performing loans, the medium term plan ahead of the first evaluation. We want to quickly and effectively address these critical issues that will set the course of the country for many years " she said and added "We are very conscious of the cruciality of the moment. We tabled a proposal on the social security system, which is a proposal that redistributes wealth in favour of middle and lower economic strata, ensuring the sustainability of the system based on the concept of law."

    On the El Dorando case, she said: "The government's intention is to facilitate any investment for the country because investments are necessary for Greece, but these investments need to be based on the protection of the environment, legality and the protection of public interest."

    However, all investments do not contribute to growth, she noted.

    "We care about the public interest and not the private one. We will not allow any company, whatever its name and its size, to blackmail us based on its own interest," she underlined.

    The company cares about its own interest, but the government has a duty to protect the common interest and Greece's interest adding that the specific company may not be interested in proceeding with the investment because for example the price of gold has fallen.

    "Of course we are interested in protecting jobs, but we are also interested in protecting the 100,000 jobs in tourist businesses in Halkidiki," she concluded.

    [08] ND leader accuses government of discrediting Greece to investors after miner's decision

    The government is discrediting Greece internationally as an investment destination by delaying granting Canadian miner Eldorado Gold its license to continue its work in northern Greece, newly elected New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Tuesday after a meeting with the company's Chief Executive Officer Paul Wright.

    Eldorado said late on Monday it will suspend much of its mine construction and development in Greece citing revocation of permits and delays by the state.

    The leader of the main opposition also called on Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to resolve the issue as soon as possible. "[The government] leads today 600 employees to unemployment and at a later date 500 more; it deprives the economy of 500 additional jobs in 2016 and internationally discredits Greece as an investment destination. I call on Mr. Tsipras to intervene to resolve the problem immediately," he said. "I honestly do not understand what he [Tsipras] will tell foreign investors he will see in Davos next week, having [mining area] Skouries closed," he added.

    He also accused the government of maintaining ideological obsessions that push away the country's biggest investment.

    [09] ND newly elected leader Mitsotakis' first moves

    New Democracy (ND) parliamentary group will probably convene on Thursday, its newly elected leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis said to journalists.

    Mitsotakis also said he will have a meeting with former party leader Evangelos Meimarakis and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. He underlined that his priority is the restructuring of the party.

    His associates confirmed the new leader's commitment to revive the party within 111 days. He is expected to hold a conference in the current week.

    According to the final results, Mitsotakis received 173,297 votes (52.43 percent) and Evangelos Meimarakis 157,224 votes (45.57 percent).

    [10] ND leader Mitsotakis meets party members

    New Democracy (ND) newly elected leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis started his contacts with party members in an effort to define his stance on issues to be tabled in Parliament.

    Mitsotakis met with party parliamentary spokesman Yiannis Vroutsis, coordinator of the Standing Committee on Social Affairs Nikos Panagiotopoulos and the head of Standing Committee on Labour, Social Security Affairs Vassilis Economou.

    Social policy issues and social security reforms dominated the meeting.

    [11] Labour Min Katrougalos on social security reforms

    The redistribution of wealth, the guaranteed pensions and measures to combat tax evasion are the main pillars of the social security reforms, Labour Minister George Katrougalos on Tuesday said in an interview with Praktorio 104.9 FM.

    Katrougalos confirmed once again that there will be no pension cuts and stressed that the government aims at restoring social justice through the social security reforms.

    "We are trying to help the unemployed and at the same time to create the necessary conditions for economic growth," he underlined.

    [12] President Pavlopoulos meets with Cyprus' DIKO leader Papadopoulos

    President of Republic Prokopis Pavlopoulos reaffirmed Greece's support to Cypriots' efforts towards the solution of the Cyprus issue welcoming on Tuesday Cyprus' DIKO party leader Nicholas Papadopoulos at the presidential mansion.

    Pavlopoulos reiterated that the current situation on Cyprus cannot continue noting that "it is not possible and acceptable for an EU and eurozone member state to be under occupation. This must end." He underlined that in this battle the forces of Cyprus are united based on the EU institutional and political acquis. This constitutes, as he said, the basis for the solution of the Cyprus issue and this should be understood by everyone.

    The Greek president noted that the Republic of Cyprus, after the unification, should have an international character, one sovereignty and one nationality and then as a sovereign country will not need guarantor powers. He also stressed that this must be understood from our partners because the issue exceeds by far Greece and Cyprus.

    Concluding, Pavlopoulos said: "We are here. You are well aware of Greece's position."

    On his part, Papadopoulos conveyed the Greek-Cypriots gratitude for the Greek people's overall support to Cyprus' struggles and thanked Pavlopoulos for his support to Cyprus. "There will be dramatic and crucial developments," he said adding that today more than ever exists the need for consensus, cooperation and common actions of all the Greek and Cyprus political leaderships. He also underlined Cyprus' intention to support Greece, in any possible way, in its battle to exit from the financial crisis that makes the people suffer.

    [13] President Pavlopoulos to visit Moscow on January14-15

    President of Republic Prokopis Pavlopoulos will visit Moscow on January 14-15 following an invitation by the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration that will be grant him an honorary degree.

    During his visit to the Russian capital, Pavlopoulos will meet on January 15 with the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin.

    [14] ANA-MPA's cooperation with Sputnik promotes understanding between the two countries, says gov't spokeswoman

    The recently signed cooperation between the Athens News Agency - Macedonian Press Agency (ANA-MPA) and the Russian news agency Sputnik will contribute to the exchange of news and the understanding between Russia and Greece, government spokeswoman Olga Gerovasili said on Tuesday.

    "The collaboration of the ANA-MPA with the International News Agency Sputnik will contribute to the exchange of news and to a better understanding between the two peoples," she said on the occasion of the Greek-Russian friendship year which starts in 2016.

    "Given the intention of both governments to use the Greece - Russia year in the long-term and its multiple benefits for both peoples, the function of the news portal 'www.greece-russia2016.gr' is an excellent initiative that is taking place at an important political juncture," she added.

    [15] Defence minister says Greece can set up joint weapons deals with countries outside NATO

    Defence Minister Panos Kammenos said on Tuesday Greece has the ability to set up joint weapons projects with countries outside NATO, providing them with the certification of an EU country.

    "If tomorrow we agree with India on 'Artemis', Greece will provide the barrel and joint production will take place here, while the weapon system will carry an EU and NATO certification," he told parliament during the ratification of an agreement between the Greek Government and Russia for the supply of defense material.

    Kammenos also said that Greece is moving forward with deals with countries like Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan, and noted that India, Poland and Egypt have expressed interest in building submarines at Skaramangas shipyards.

    [16] Less than 5 TV licenses to be granted to private channels, says State minister

    The nationwide TV licenses which will be granted by the government to private broadcasters through a public tender will be less than five to secure their viability, State Minister Nikos Pappas announced on Tuesday, during an interview to an economic news channel.

    Speaking to SBC, the minister said the advertising market has suffered such losses that TV channels are non-viable. "We were saying that the problem is the triangle of vested interests. What do we want to avoid? We do not want non-viable companies which rely on bank lending, which creates the opaque terms and exerts pressure to the political system, which in turn pressures the banks," he said.

    [17] Foreign Ministry condemns bomb attacks in Baghdad

    The Foreign Ministry unequivocally condemned yesterday's bomb attacks in Baghdad, which resulted in the deaths of dozens of innocent victims, in an announcement released on Tuesday.

    "We express our solidarity with the friendly Iraqi people and the families of the victims. Greece supports the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq, as well as the multi-ethnic and multi-religious character of Iraqi society, which the dead-end terrorist activity of the ISIS/Daesh organization will not succeed in striking down".

    [18] Foreign ministry unequivocally condemns deadly explosion in Istanbul

    The Greek Foreign Ministry unequivocally condemned the deadly explosion in Istanbul, expressing its total support to the families of the victims.

    In a message posted on Twitter, the Foreign ministry said that it has no information for Greek nationals among the victims adding that it is in constant communication with the Turkish authorities.

    [19] Greek President expresses condolences to German, Turkish envoys for Istanbul terror attack

    President Prokopis Pavlopoulos expressed through an associate to the German Ambassador to Greece his condolences to the families of the victims of Tuesday's terror attack in Istanbul.

    The General Secretary of the Presidency, Giorgos Gennimatas, called German Ambassador Dr. Peter Schoof, whom he asked to convey to the families of the victims Pavlopoulos' deepest condolences and unreserved support.

    Gennimatas also contacted the Turkish Ambassador to Greece, Kerim Uras, and expressed the President's unequivocal condemnation of the terrorist attack that occurred in Istanbul.

    [20] ND leader sends condolences to Turkish PM for terror attack

    New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis send his condolences to Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu following the deadly terrorist attack in Istanbul earlier on Tuesday.

    In his letter, Mitsotakis expresses is deep sadness for the victims and his unreserved support to their families.

    Financial News

    [21] Greek economy to return to positive growth rates in 2016, Piraeus Bank chairman says

    A timely completion of the first review of the Greek programme and a dynamic implementation of a privatization programme, combined with a new development law by the government will help the economy to respond positively later this year and to return to positive growth rates in the second half of 2016, Mihalis Sallas, chairman of Piraeus Bank said on Tuesday.

    Speaking to reporters, the Greek banker said he was surprised by a series of announcements made by foreign analysts which were making an effort to create a recessionary environment for the Greek economy this year. "These estimates come in full contrast with our estimates and the climate we see from the business world and foreign investors. Similar, or even more extreme estimates had been made by the same experts in the recent past and were rebuffed. The Greek economy has still to resolve a lot of its structural problems, but I believe that a timely completion of the first review, a speedy implementation of a privatization programme and a new development law will help the economy to respond positively returning to positive growth rates in the second half. We will have a positive growth rate for the year. This economic recovery will be based on higher performance in tourism, a speedy implementation of a Public Works Programme, improved liquidity and boosting investments in infrastructure projects," Sallas said.

    [22] China's Cosco is sole bidder for stake in Piraeus Port

    The Chinese shipping and port group Cosco is the only bidder in the tender for the acquisition of a 67 pct stake in Piraeus Port (OLP), Greece's privatization agency revealed on Tuesday, after it unsealed the financial offers.

    According to the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (HRADF), its board of directors unsealed during a meeting Cosco's binding financial offer and will now request a better offer, which will be examined next week.

    "According to the terms of the process, the Fund requested the submission of an improved financial offer to be assessed at a subsequent meeting of the Board scheduled to be held in the coming week," the Fund said in a press release.

    "Our aim is to achieve a higher offer; the negotiating process is continuing," senior HRADF officials said after the meeting.

    [23] National Bank announces programme to support start-ups

    National Bank on Tuesday announced an initiative aimed to support start-ups with activities in e-commerce through its NBG BusinessSeeds programme.

    The bank will award start-ups offering innovatiave products and services, present integrated business models, financial sustainability and high growth prospects. All eligible companies will be offered National Bank's i-bank e-commerce service free of charge for one year and with an exceptionally low fee afterwards. The programme will cover start-ups in e-commerce, founded after January 1, 2014, based in Greece, or operating a branch in the country, with an annual turnover of more than 50,000 euros.

    [24] Aqurance listed in Deloitte Technology Fast EMEA list

    Aqurance, a Greek software company, is included in a list of the 500 faster developing companies in Europe, Middle East and Africa regions compiled by Deloitte Global Technology, Media & Telecommunications group.

    EMEA regions recorded an average revenue growth rate of 1.012 pct in more of 20 countries included in the list. The Dutch e-auction firm Catawiki ranked first in the Deloitte 2015 Technology Fast 500TM list in EMEA region, while Aqurance ranked 291st with a growth rate of 352 pct. Aqurance was founded in 2011 and has offices in Athens, London and Istanbul and it is the most rapidly growing health science software company in southeast Europe.

    Dionysis Nikolopoulos, chief executive of Aqurance, said that the listing of Aqurance in the Deloitte Technology Fast 500 EMEA was a huge success for the company, adding that "as a start-up business we are more than thrilled that our effort is acknowledged during the difficult times we live. This effort is the reason why customers prefer our services and select Aqurance as their trusty partner".

    The top 10 companies for 2015 were: Catawiki (Holland), iZettle AB (Sweden), Zerto (Israel), WorldRemit Ltd (UK), Taboola (Israel), Skyscape Cloud Services Ltd (UK), Clean Marine As (Norway), Grove Solutions Ltd (UK), Etrinell As (Norway).

    [25] Capital market commission extends ban in short selling on Attica Bank shares

    Greece's Capital Market Authority on Tuesday announced it was extending a ban in short selling on Attica Bank's shares in the Athens Stock Exchange as the bank has not yet completed its recapitalization process. Attica Bank has not completed the distribution of its new shares thus a date for the beginning of trading of new shares in the market is still pending.

    This temporary ban includes clearing on intra-day transactions, ADRs or GDRs and warrants of the bank. It does not apply primary dealers making transactions in shares, derivatives, warrants and ETFs of the bank. The ban will be extended until January 25.

    [26] Greek CEOs more optimistic in Q4 2015, survey

    Greek executives are more optimistic over economic developments in the country, with the EASE/ICAP-CEO General Index rising to 120 points in the fourth quarter of 2015, reflecting Greek CEOs' cautios optimism over the course of the economy and of crucial issues which have to be resolved in the framework of a third reform program agreed with the country's creditors. The CEOs also acknowledge the risks from any delay in implementing the program which could prolong a recession.

    An analysis of the result shows an advance of the index in all enterprises' results, particularly small- and medium-sized enterprises. The current status index grew to 106 points in the fourth quarter from 94 in the third quarter, while the CEO expectation index rose slightly to 131 points from 131 over the same period, respectively.

    The percentage of Greek CEOs saying that the current economic situation has deteriorated fell to 82 pct in the fourth quarter from 90 pct in the previous quarter, while the percentage of CEOs expecting an improvement in the economic situation in 2016 rose to 23 pct from 22 pct.

    The percentage of CEOs saying that the economic situation of their business sector was better than a year ago, grew to 9 pct from 6.0 pct in the third quarter, while the percentage of CEOs expecting an improvement in one year was 21 pct (24 pct for CEOs of very large enterprises).

    The current employment index grew to 97 points in the fourth quarter from 91 in the previous quarter, while the employment expectations index grew to 127 points from 122.

    The economic sentiment index EASE/ICAP-CEO General index was compiled by the Association of Chief Executive Officers and ICAP Group on a sample of 3,020 CEOs.

    [27] Greece records positive hiring/dismissal result in 2015

    Greece recorded an increase in wage employment in the private sector in December 2015, with a positive balance of 7,826 job positions, according to a monthly report by Ergani system of the Labor ministry.

    New hiring announcements totaled 142,528 in December, while dismissals amounted to 134,702.

    In the period January-December 2015, hirings totaled 1,809,552 and dismissals amounted to 1,709,852, leaving a positive balance of 99,700 new job positions large year, surpassing the 2014 figure by 578 job positions, the second highest annual performance since 2001.

    [28] OPAP asks Greek top court to cancel gambling levy

    Greek betting firm OPAP filed a petition with the Council of State to annul and suspend a new tax on its games which became effective this year, the company said in a statement.

    The finance ministry announced a decision last year to levy a tax of 0.05 euros per column on all of OPAP's games to help raise about 300 million euros per year in revenues.

    According to the company, this levy which is transferred to the players and is paid to the State is unconstitutional, against the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) but also against European and Greek law.

    OPAP also claims that it is technically impossible to adjust the software of its electronic machines so as to be able to calculate and collect this tax, while it also warned it may suspend some of the games, which will result in "irreparable economic losses".

    [29] Jumbo Group says H1 sales significantly surpass targets

    Jumbo Group on Tuesday said its first half sales grew 8.97 pct to 371.5 million euros, from 341.13 million in the first half last year.

    Jumbo said this performance significantly surpassed a target set for an increase in sales between 0-4.0 pct, leading the management to revise upwards its target for the year ending in June 2016 to 6-8.0 pct.

    Domestic turnover grew 3.0 pct, surpassing even the most optimistic forecast for a zero change in the first half, while turnover doubled in Romania and sales growth met estimates in Bulgaria and Cyprus.

    Jumbo Group operates a network of 73 units in four countries, of which 53 in Greece, five in Cyprus, 8 in Bulgaria and 7 in Romania. It also operates an e-shop. The group plans a restructuring of its network aiming to boost productivity.

    [30] Car registrations up 13.5 pct in 2015

    Car registrations grew 13.5 pct in 2015 after a 7.0 pct increase recorded in December, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Tuesday.

    The statistics service, in a report, said that the annual growth rate was significantly lower compared with a 30.2 pct growth rate recorded in the previous year, as the market was hit by the imposition of capital controls. In December, car registrations totaled 9,488 cars (new or used ones), up 7.0 pct from December 2014. New car registrations totaled 7,451 in December, up 5.0 pct from December 2014.

    In the January-December period, car registrations totaled 116,168 cars, from 102,359 in 2014, for an increase of 13.5 pct. New car registrations totaled 81,471, up 7.0 pct.

    Motorcycle registrations totaled 3,332 in December, up 256.7 pct from December 2014, of which new motorcycle registrations totaled 3,234 (an increase of 274.7 pct from December 2014).

    In the January-December 2015 period, motorcycle registrations totaled 36,607, up 9.0 pct from the previous year, of which 34,485 were new (an increase of 8.0 pct).

    [31] New terminal at Sitia airport to be inaugurated on Wednesday

    The new terminal of the Sitia airport "Vitsentzos Kornaros" on Crete will be inaugurated on Wednesday.

    Infrastructures, Transport and Networks Minister Christos Spirtzis will be present at the inauguration ceremony scheduled for 12:00 that will be also attended by representatives of the Lasithi region.

    The terminal is located 1km off the city center and the port of Sitia and has the capacity to host two to three middle size aircrafts per hour, specifically up to 250 passenger-seats airplanes.

    "Sitia airport is in position to serve domestic and international flights and is expected to upgrade the tourist development of the region and to play a significant role as entrance gate to eastern Crete" said Sitia municipality in an announcement.

    [32] ASE suspends trading of Piraeus Port shares

    The Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday announced the temporary suspension of the trading of Piraeus Port Authority shares, as well as of the relevant financial instruments of the company.

    The company said the decision was taken following a request of the Hellenic Capital Market Commission for the protection of investors and the smooth operation of the market until relevant information is disclosed by the company's main shareholder, the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund, about the content of Tuesday's HRADF Board of Directors meeting, concerning the opening of financial offers for the placement of its holding stake in the company.

    [33] Greek stocks rebound strongly

    Greek stocks rebounded strongly in the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, ending a five-day decline which pushed the composite index of the market 7.87 pct lower, helped by a recovery in other European markets. Blue chips such as PPC, National Bank, Piraeus Bank, Titan and Alpha Bank were at the focus of buying interest.

    The composite index ended at 594.26 points, up 2.16 pct, the day's highs. The Large Cap index rose 2.58 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 0.19 pct higher. Turnover was an improved 72.817 million euros in volume of 112,523,395.

    Piraeus Bank (6.0 pct), Jumbo (5.33 pct) and PPC (5.08 pct) scored the biggest percentage gains of the day among blue chip stocks, while Folli Follie (0.91 pct), Aegean Airlines (0.57 pct) and OTE (0.45 pct) suffered losses. National Bank and Piraeus Bank were the most heavily traded stocks of the day. Among market sectors, Health (7.54 pct), Insurance (6.87 pct) and Personal Products (4.76 pct) scored big gains, while Commerce (0.90 pct), Chemicals (0.66 pct) and Telecoms (0.45 pct) suffered losses.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 61 to 38 with another 19 issues unchanged. Attica Holdings (20 pct), Perseus (17.47 pct) and G.E.Demetriou (14.29 pct) were top gainers, while Ekter (20.68 pct), ANEK (20 pct) and Lavipharm (20 pct) were top losers.

    [34] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened slightly to 7.99 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Tuesday, from 7.91 pct the previous day, with the Greek bond yielding 8.53 pct and the German benchmark yielding 0.54 pct. There was no turnover in the market.

    In interbank markets, interest rates continued moving lower. The 12-month rate fell to 0.048 pct from 0.050 pct, the nine-month rate eased to -0.006 pct from -0.003 pct, the six-month rate fell to -0.053 pct from -0.052 pct, the three-month rate was -0.144 pct and the one-month rate fell to -0.220 pct.

    [35] ADEX closing report

    The January contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a discount of 0.29 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 7,298 contracts with 15,857 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 25,912 contracts with investment interest focusing on Piraeus Bank's contracts (10,060), followed by Alpha Bank (2,370), National Bank (7,967), Eurobank (2,332), MIG (388), OTE (755), PPC (379), OPAP (470), Mytilineos (437), Hellenic Petroleum (146), Jumbo (134) and Titan (71).

    General News

    [36] Film director Nikos Panayiotopoulos dies

    Greek film director Nikos Panayiotopoulos died on Monday at the age of 74.

    Panayiotopoulos was born on the island of Lesvos in 1941 and studied cinema in Athens and Paris where he lived from 1960 to 1973.

    He was awarded in international film festivals. Some of his well-known films are "A Night to Remember," "Delivery" and "Athens-Istanbul."

    His latest film, "Rembrandt's Daughter" was released a few weeks prior to his death.

    [37] Ships to remain docked on 20 and 21 January due to seamen's strike

    The Hellenic Seamen's Federation has declared a 24h strike on 20 and 21 January to all ship classes against the reforms to the social security system.

    The Federation's executive committee also decided to call another 24h strike with open the possibility to escalate their mobilisations. The date of the strike will be decided at a new meeting.

    [38] Greek man arrested for trafficking migrants after 123 people found in his truck

    Border police arrested a 31-year old Greek man for trafficking migrants on Tuesday, as the truck he was driving in the town of Soufli, in northeastern Greece, was found carrying 123 migrants.

    According to police, 102 of the migrants are Syrians and the rest 21 are Iraqis. The driver is also accused of forgery, as he presented a fake vehicle registration license to the police officers who stopped his car and the van had forged license plates.

    The driver was led before the prosecutor.

    [39] At least 1,500 refugees arrive at Piraeus port

    "Blue Star 1" ferry carried around 1,500 refugees from Mytilene to Piraeus port on Tuesday.

    Weather forecast

    [40] Partly cloudy on Wednesday

    Unstable weather and westerly winds are forecast for Wednesday. Clouds and local rain in the northern and the western parts of the country with temperatures ranging from 05C-18C. Partly cloudy in the eastern parts of the country with temperatures between 08C-19C. Partly cloudy with a chance of rain over the Aegean islands and Crete, 15C-22C. Mostly fair in Athens, 12C-17C. Partly cloudy in Thessaloniki, 07C-15C.

    [41] The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    AVGHI: Left or right

    DIMOKRATIA: How the New Democracy will govern

    EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: David Bowie - The man who landed on Earth

    ETHNOS: Higher social contributions for farmers

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: Kyriakos Mitsotakis' victory brings changes in the political landscape

    ESTIA: The challenges of the next day

    IMERISSIA: Anxiety over the social security system

    KATHIMERINI: Kyriakos Mitsotakis' victory changes the political landscape

    NAFTEMPORIKI: Crash test in Amsterdam and Berlin

    RIZOSPASTIS: SEV and EU support the new anti-popular measures

    TA NEA: Kyriakos (Mitsotakis) and the others

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