Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-07-03
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 03/07/1998 (ANA)
- Government sees foreign investments rising in years ahead
- US chemicals firm carrying out Dr 6.7 bln investment in Greece
- Greek stocks jump 5.05 pct in blue-chip buying spree
- Listed Nirefs fish farmer to sell stock abroad
- Public works minister awards Peloponnese tunnel project
- Drachma gains against major currencies in June
- Public sector transition to euro
- Gradual liberalisation of Cyprus' economy urged
- Simitis confident of PASOK election victory in 2000
- Tsohatzopoulos begins US tour today
- Greek military chief in Hungary
- German army chief due in Greece on Sunday
- Turkish nuclear plant construction irresponsible
- Israeli-Palestinian conference opens in Rhodes
- Foreign exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Government sees foreign investments rising in years ahead
The government expects an increase in foreign investments in coming years,
National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said yesterday.
He was speaking at a news conference called by the Hellenic Investments
Centre (ELKE), a one-stop shop for investors run by the state, to present
its three-year business plan.
Mr. Papantoniou said that foreign markets were already convinced that
Greece would become the 12th member of the European Union's economic and
The forecast was confirmed recently by European Central Bank chairman, Wim
Duisenberg, in an interview to the Sunday Eleftherotypia newspaper, the
He underlined that the country had clearly reached the final stage of
convergence with the 15-nation bloc, but it had to adhere strictly to the
same economic policy in order to meet targets.
Commenting on substantial bids to emerge from a tender on Monday in the
sale of state-owned Cretabank, Mr. Papantoniou said: "Investors are buying
convergence, they are buying Europe".
The minister also predicted that the privatisation of other banks would go
equally well as a result of progress in the economy and its outlook.
US chemicals firm carrying out Dr 6.7 bln investment in Greece
ELKE's president, Vassilis Kourtesis, also predicted a sharp rise in
foreign investments in Greece.
He told the news conference that ELKE had attracted a 6.7-billion drachma
investment by Polyform, a US chemicals company. It was the only new wholly
foreign investment in 1997, and the first new American industrial
investment in Greece for the last 20 years.
ELKE expects that the main foreign investments in Greece this year will
come from Germany, the United States, Great Britain and France.
The investments centre is working to attract capital mainly in the primary
sector, raw materials (minerals), tourism, food processing and software
Greek stocks jump 5.05 pct in blue-chip buying spree
Greek equities soared 5.05 percent on the Athens Stock Exchange yesterday
led by strong buying interest in blue-chip banks and industrials.
The general index ended 5.05 percent, or 121.54 points higher at 2,529.90
points. Trade was active with turnover at 70.9 billion drachmas.
Brokers said the market welcomed the emergence of high bids on Monday in an
international tender to sell state-owned Cretabank. It was also following a
spectacular recovery in markets abroad.
Analysts said that a 93-billion drachma bid by the Latsis Group via EFG
Eurobank to buy Cretabank had ignited the buying spree in banks, and
especially in two of the country's largest private banks, Ergobank and
Alpha Credit Bank.
Alpha Credit Bank has expressed interest in buying Ionian Bank, which is
also slated for privatisation.
The market was also responding to talk that the two banks were considering
forging an alliance as an answer to Eurobank's aggressive strategy in the
domestic banking sector.
Sector indices scored gains across the board. Banks soared 5.24 percent,
Insurance rose 3.62 percent, Investment ended 3.99 percent higher, Leasing
increased 1.44 percent, Industrials surged 5.31 percent, Construction was
2.89 percent up, Miscellaneous ended 2.56 percent higher and Holding jumped
The parallel market index for small cap companies ended 1.49 percent
National Bank of Greece ended at 43,650 drachmas, Ergobank at 28,180, Alpha
Credit Bank at 26,250, Ionian Bank at 16,471, Delta Dairy at 3,980, Titan
Cement at 21,640, Intracom at 11,178 and Hellenic Petroleum at 2,600
Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation ended at 8,400 drachmas reflecting
renewed interest by foreign institutional investors.
Listed Nirefs fish farmer to sell stock abroad
Nirefs SA, a fish farming company listed on the Athens Stock Exchange, is
seeking expansion of its shareholder base abroad through a private
placement of 1.5 million shares to European and other institutional
Japanese investment firm Nikko will act as underwriter to the issue.
Announcement of the deal was made in London yesterday.
Nirefs, a leading company in the fish farming sector in the Mediterranean
and in Europe, will also raise its share capital and seek entry into the
Athens Stock Exchange's main market in about a month.
Nirefs is currently traded on the bourse's parallel market for small cap
Public works minister awards Peloponnese tunnel project
Public Works Minister Costas Laliotis yesterday endorsed the award of a
project to build a six-billion drachma tunnel in the Peloponnese to
engineering contractors Abette, Technodomi and Travlos Brothers.
The minister's decision ratified the outcome of a tender won by the group
for construction of the Rapsomati tunnel, which forms part of a link
between Tripoli and Kalamata.
Drachma gains against major currencies in June
A significant increase in the drachma against all foreign currencies, with
the greatest being an increase against the Japanese yen, was the most
important characteristic in foreign exchange developments in June, compared
to the previous month.
The German mark's parity decreased by 1.9 per cent, the pound sterling
decreased slightly by 0.07 per cent. The ECU parity also decreased by 1.59
The drachma increased by 0.91 per cent against the US dollar and by 4.62
per cent against the yen.
Regarding the course of the drachma in the first half of the year, the
drachma was devalued by about 7-8 per cent against almost all foreign
currencies. The event was due to the devaluation of the drachma last
Public sector transition to euro
Finance Undersecretary Nikos Christodoulakis yesterday announced that a
national plan for transfer to the common EU currency, euro, will be
completed this month.
He noted that the plan includes fiscal, taxation and internal market issues,
while speaking at a one-day seminar organised by the Federation for
European Monetary Union, Eurobank and the Foundation for Economic and
Industrial Research (IOBE).
Mr. Christodoulakis said that during a transitional period - , considering
that Greece is expected to join the euro zone by Jan.1, 2001 - the public
sector will prepare all categories of balance sheets and budgets in both
the drachma and the euro.
He added that the 2002 national budget will be prepared and executed based
on the euro, including taxation and state revenues.
Gradual liberalisation of Cyprus' economy urged
The president of the Nicosia-based European Popular Bank's group, Kikis
Lazarides, noted that the economy of Cyprus currently needs the building of
a "new development model."
Mr. Lazarides added that this model must include the absolute but gradual
liberalisation of the economy, a reshaping of the role of the state and the
rationalisation of public finances, as well as an increase in productivity,
improvement in the tourist product and measures to strengthen the
flexibility of products and labour markets. He also placed emphasis on
social cohesion, adding that "to this end a dialogue must start between
social partners, as well as society in its entirety for a new social cont
In an exclusive interview with ANA, Mr. Lazarides went on to say that
market liberalisation in the fiscal sector will not lead to an increase in
interest rates, while Cypriot banks will not be threatened by foreign banks
when the banking market is liber alised, stressing that European Popular
Bank is successfully active in Greece and that its target is to increase
its general share of the Greek market to 3 per cent.
Simitis confident of PASOK election victory in 2000
Prime Minister Costas Simitis visited a worksite of the Athens metro at the
Sepolia station yesterday, stressing his conviction that ruling PASOK will
win the elections in the year 2000 and again form a majority government.
Mr. Simitis said that "our message all together is the message of the
times. Only being together with the common targets and common efforts,
regardless of our differences, will we be able to succeed and create Greece
of the 21st century, Greece of the big and open horizons."
"We are sure that at the moment of the new verdict in the elections of 2000,
the Greek people will judge and evaluate a positive, rich and creative
task. We have confidence in our modern proposals and ideas. For this reason
we are sure that the Greek people with their great democratic and
progressive tradition will once again give the majority to PASOK," he
Mr. Simitis said that Greece is changing shape by the day, it is acquiring
a modern image as a result of projects being carried out all over the
country. He said there is no international forum at which the country's
resonance is not confirmed, as was the case at the recent summits in
Luxembourg, Brussels and Cardiff.
Tsohatzopoulos begins US tour today
National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos begins an official tour to
the United States today, following a visit to Athens last April by US
Defense Secretary William Cohen.
According to sources, the Greek minister's talks with his US counterpart
will include the purchase by Greece of US military equipment, continuation
of efforts for a reduction of tension in the Aegean, advancing the process
for a settlement of the Cyprus issue and creation of a Balkan multinational
Mr. Tsohatzopoulos will be in Washington beginning Monday and until
Wednesday, where he will be received at the Pentagon and attend a reception
in his honour at the US State Department.
The minister will hold talks with US administration officials and senior
members of Congress. He is also due to meet with the chief of the Central
Intelligence Agency (CIA) and members of the Jewish community.
In New York, he will have contacts with the ethnic Greek community, and is
expected to respond to invitations to visit weapons manufacturing
Greek military chief in Hungary
National Defence General Staff Chief Gen. Athanasios Tzoganis will pay an
official visit to Hungary between July 7-9 at the invitation of his
Hungarian counterpart Gen. Ferenc Feg.
Issues of bilateral concern will be discussed in meetings with the
Hungarian defence ministry's military leadership.
Gen. Tzoganis will also be received by the Hungarian defence minister and
the president of the nation's Parliamentary defence committee. He will also
lay a wreath at the Monument of Hungarian Heroes, visit the village of
Beloyiannis as well as military installations.
German army chief due in Greece on Sunday
German Army General Staff Chief Lt.-Gen. Helmut Wilkmann will pay an
official visit to Greece between July 5-8 at the invitation of his Greek
counterpart Lt.-Gen. Manousos Paragioudakis.
The two army general staff leaders will discuss issues of mutual concern.
The German general will be received by the defence ministry's civil
leadership and the national defence general staff chief, before visiting
army training centres, formations and archaeological sites.
Turkish nuclear plant construction irresponsible
The director of Turkey's Dokuz Eylul University's geophysics faculty, Dr.
Atilla Ulug, told a journalists' conference in Istanbul yesterday that
Ankara's effort to proceed with construction of a nuclear plant on the
southern Asia Minor coast without a seismological study is an absolutely
irresponsible and criminal decision.
The conference was jointly organised with the Greenpeace organisation.
Findings in a report prepared in 1991 by a group of Turkish marine
geophysicists and a British geologist were presented at the conference.
According to results, the region proposed for the construction of Turkey's
first nuclear plant lies next to an active geological fault, which extends
20-25 kilometres in an area with increased seismic activity.
"The least that the Turkish government must do is to conduct further
research on the gulf region to ascertain the possible dangers posed by the
'Ecemis' fault," Prof. Ulug said.
The warning by Greenpeace and the Turkish professor comes a few days after
a devastating earthquake struck the southeastern region of Turkey, above
the active Anatolia fault, last Saturday.
The earthquake claimed the lives of at least 144 people and injured 1,500
others in villages and towns.
Israeli-Palestinian conference opens in Rhodes
A five-day international conference of Israeli, Palestinian and Greek
journalists, as well as Tel Aviv-based foreign correspondents, began on
Opening the sessions of the conference, press ministry secretary-general
Yiannis Nikolaou stressed the need for a "peace culture" and a strengthening
of cultural ties and cooperation in communications in the Middle East. The
conference is organised by the Greek press ministry.
Yesterday's exchanges were characterised by a certain sharpness, due both
to the crucial nature of the current phase and a tendency to adopt
In general terms, the Palestinian side called on Israeli journalists to
exert greater pressure on their public opinion in favour of promoting the
peace process and the Oslo agreement, as well as a condemnation of the
Netanyahu government. "Palestinia ns believe that the people of Israel are
responsible for Netanyahu's election to the premiership," said Palestinian
press ministry representative Waleed Avant, who stressed that the
Palestinian press could not remain neutral vis-a-vis the deeds of the pre
sent Israeli government.
According to Israeli journalist Ella Heller, the overwhelming majority of
the Israeli people were "rather against" the Oslo peace accord, considering
that Israeli media were not objective and showing undue favour to
The journalists' conference is taking place in parallel with a meeting of
prominent Palestinian and Israeli personalities.
Hot sunny weather will prevail throughout Greece today. Winds light to
moderate. The heatwave will continue in Athens with temperatures between 26-
41C. Same weather conditions in Thessaloniki with temperatutres from 24-
Thursday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 303.760
British pound 503.420 Japanese yen (100) 215.998
French franc 49.771 German mark 166.869
Italian lira (100) 16.938 Irish Punt 420.489
Belgian franc 8.091 Finnish mark 54.907
Dutch guilder 148.021 Danish kr. 43.803
Austrian sch. 23.713 Spanish peseta 1.966
Swedish kr. 37.577 Norwegian kr. 39.214
Swiss franc 198.340 Port. Escudo 1.631
Aus. dollar 186.327 Can. dollar 207.348
Cyprus pound 568.892