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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-09-08

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

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

NEWS IN ENGLISH

Athens, Greece, 08/09/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Business circles express satisfaction over PM's TIF speech
  • Greek stocks rise sharply in thin trade
  • Greece's Attica Aluminium shows 33 pct profit jump in H1
  • South African businessmen eye Greece
  • Greek-Czech trade exchanges mark spectacular increase
  • Greece, Britain talk about tank production venture
  • Casino to suspend operations due to debts
  • Bosnian Serbs are implementing Dayton accord faithfully
  • Bulgarian president tells ANA of his country's concern over Kosovo
  • Greek investments climb in Hungary
  • Int'l cotton conference opens in Athens
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Business circles express satisfaction over PM's TIF speech

The country's business world expressed its satisfaction yesterday with Prime Minister Costas Simitis' annual economic speech at the 63rd Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) on Saturday night, as well as on the positions he set out on the economy at a press conference on Sunday, while two main trade unions expressed opposition to the government's announced incomes policy.

Contrary to all opposition parties and certain labour representatives who criticised Mr. Simitis over the government's economic policy for 1999, business circles let it be understood that they heard what they expected from the prime minister, even if they would rather prefer speedier rates in the implementation of structural changes.

In a related development, Federation of Greek Industries (SEB) President Iason Stratos said yesterday that "decreases in prices are welcome" provided that agreements have previously been reached between the social partners allowing for such a decrease. In other words, provided that working people will have accepted the restraining of their own remuneration.

In the public sector in particular, it added, structural changes forged ahead and as a result many issues remain open and the positive repercussions from all the changes brought about has not been felt.

In an announcement yesterday, replying to Mr. Simitis' call for restraining or even decreasing prices, the National Confederation of Greek Commerce (ESEE) said that "the business world does not have the exclusive responsibility for its course, but that this lies exclusively with the government."

ESEE stressed that the commercial world had shown responsibility and self- restraint. For this reason, inflation was less than expected after the devaluation of the drachma last March.

ESEE expressed the need for necessary structural changes to take place soon and expressed dissatisfaction over Mr. Simitis' failure to announce specific measures and policies on the course towards EMU and by not saying what the commercial world expected to hear about its own sector.

Greek stocks rise sharply in thin trade

Equities finished sharply higher in light trade yesterday following a slide last week due to financial turmoil abroad.

The Athens general index ended 1.45 percent up at 2,126.87 points after gaining 3.45 percent in early trade, only to fall again on profit- taking.

Turnover was 39.8 billion drachmas, slightly up on Friday's 34.3 billion drachmas.

The general index was volatile throughout last week, reflecting the market's vulnerability in market turbulence abroad stemming from Russia's political and financial crisis.

Foreign institutional investors had dumped Greek stock to recoup losses from other markets.

Sector indices closed higher across the board yesterday. The heavily weighted banking sector gained 1.31 percent, Insurance jumped 1.74 percent, Investment rose 1.30 percent, Leasing edged up 0.58 percent, Industrials increased 1.59 percent, Construction gained 1.13 percent, Holding surged 2.69 percent and Miscellaneous soared 2.76 percent.

Of 252 stocks traded, advances led declines at 155 to 65 with another 32 issues unchanged.

Scoring the biggest percentage gains at or near the 8.0 percent upper volatility limit were Mosholios Chemicals, Aspis Invest, Strintzis Lines, Mouriadis, Radio Athine, Keranis, Ekter, Dane Sea Line and Papaellinas.

National Bank of Greece ended at 40,790 drachmas, Ergobank at 25,000, Alpha Credit Bank at 22,410, Ionian Bank at 10,200, Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 6,700, Delta Dairy (common) at 3,245, Intracom (common) at 10,500, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,650 and Titan Cement (common) at 18, 600.

Greece's Attica Aluminium shows 33 pct profit jump in H1

Attica Aluminium posted consolidated pre-tax profits of 2.3 billion drachmas in the first half against 1.7 billion a year earlier, up 33 percent, it said in a statement yesterday.

Consolidated sales were 10.0 billion drachmas in the first half from 8.4 billion in the same period of last year, the statement said.

Investments in fixed assets in January-June were 1.5 billion drachmas. The company is transferring its operations to the northern border prefecture of Evros, building a new plant there.

The Attica Aluminium Group comprises Alte, Metron Atene, Multipack and Iris.

Alte, an engineering contractor, posted first half pre-tax profits of 1.3 billion drachmas, up from 1.2 billion a year earlier. Its sales were 6.0 billion drachmas from 4.4 billion in first-half 1997, the statement said.

Alte is a member of a French-Greek consortium led by Bouygues that will build a metro from scratch for the northern city of Thessaloniki.

Finally, Metron and Iris are due to merge in order to enable them to bid for major infrastructure projects.

South African businessmen eye Greece

Businessmen and Greek expatriates from South Africa are interested in investing in Greece and discussions have already got underway with Greek companies for cooperation in the foodstuffs and chemicals sectors.

Greek businessmen are showing similar interest in investing in this country and the first to be announced is that by the Filippou Group of Companies (FAGE).

Such interest has increased following contacts held in South Africa by Greek businessmen who participated in a trade mission organised by the Federation on Industries of Northern Greece, whose President, Vassilis Takas, has been South Africa's honourary consul in Thessaloniki for years.

The value of South Africa's exports to Greece has increased from 7.2 billion drachmas in 1994 to 18 billion drachmas last year, while Greek exports amounted to 3 billion drachmas as against 2.5 billion drachmas four years ago.

Greek-Czech trade exchanges mark spectacular increase

Trade exchanges between Greece and the Czech Republic have been increasing spectacularly in past years, according to data announced yesterday during a press conference on the occasion of the Czech Republic's participation in the 63rd Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF), which revealed that Greek exports doubled over the past seven years and amounted to 57 million dollars in 1997.

However, the Czechs are so far exporting products of a higher value than what they are importing from Greece. The Czech Republic's exports to Greece totalled 86 million dollars last year and this is primarily due to the many industrial products which the Greek market is absorbing from that country.

Greece, Britain talk about tank production venture

Sir Collin Chandler, President of the big British weapons industry "Vickers" looks forward to the fact that its possible cooperation with the Greek war industry Hellenic Vehicles Industry (ELVO) will provide the new joint venture unit with possibilities for major commercial activity in markets in the Middle East and the Balkans.

Following his recent meetings in Greece with members of the Greek government, and National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos in particular, Sir Chandler said that negotiations are in their final stage for the conclusion of a cooperation agreement with ELVO and explained the reasons why his company decided to invest in Greece.

"The reasons urging us to invest in Greece are, firstly, the great ties existing between Britain and Greece and, secondly, the fact that Greece, being a member of the European Union, is, as we are ascertaining, more competitive. What we want to achieve is to bring to ELVO our technology on big tanks and, in parallel, to use ELVO's knowledge in light vehicles. Our plans include the joint production of the modern Challenger 2 tank. We will also exploit Vicker's strength in the geographical spheres of British influence and Greece's influence in other geographical areas," he said.

Casino to suspend operations due to debts

Halkidiki's Porto Carras casino will be forced to suspend operations for 20 days, after the Council of State rejected an application by the casino's board to revoke a relevant decision by the appropriate committee supervising the operation of casinos.

The development follows Porto Carras' failure to pay debts of 1.4 billion drachmas owed to the Greek State, the Hellenic tourism Organisation (EOT) and the local government.

Bosnian Serbs are implementing Dayton accord faithfully

Bosnian Serb Prime Minister Milorad Dodik said yesterday that general elections scheduled for this weekend would provide the Bosnian Serb republic with the wherewithal to implement the 1995 Dayton peace accords which ended the Bosnian war.

"With a new government, the Serb Republic of Bosnia is well on the way to implementing the Dayton accord," Mr. Dodik said in Athens, following a working meeting with Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos.

In the elections, Bosnians will choose members of the three-man state presidency. They will also elect deputies for the state parliament and the two entities' assemblies, as well as a president in the Serb entity.

Noting that the Serb republic was faithfully and conscientiously implementing the accords, Mr. Pangalos said he hoped the international community would recognise this effort.

Mr. Dodik and Mr. Pangalos said they were very satisfied with the level of bilateral relations. Mr. Dodik said he had invited Mr. Pangalos to Banja Luka for a visit, he said, which would have "exce-ptional significance" for the promotion of bilateral relations.

Mr. Pangalos, noting that there was cooperation in the energy sector and prospects for more in a series of privatisations in the Serb republic, said two meetings - one in Athens and the other in Banja Luka - were being planned to provide businessmen from both sides with an opportunity to explore avenues for cooperation.

Mr. Dodik mentioned that the 25 million dollars in aid from Greece was being used to construct a school and a Serbian hospital in the city of Sarajevo.

Mr. Pangalos said Greece was still against the planned European Union ban on flights by Yugoslav carriers, agreed as a sanction over Kosovo.

Asked whether he knew of the whereabouts of Radovan Karadzic, Mr. Dodik said he did not, adding that at the end of WWII Germany had not handed over its citizens accused of war crimes.

Mr. Pangalos, commenting on the issue, said: "There must be institutions, bodies which will work, but work for all."

"Some are punished and persecuted while others pass by unpunished...This must stop," he said.

Bulgarian president tells ANA of his country's concern over Kosovo

Bulgarian President Petar Stoyanov told the Athens News Agency in Lisbon yesterday that he was worried over developments in the Serbian province of Kosovo but did not openly approve of a NATO intervention in the region.

The Bulgarian president was speaking to the ANA on the sidelines of Lisbon's EXPO '98, on the occasion of September 6, a day that the World Ocean Exhibiton dedicated to Bulgaria.

Speaking to the ANA, Mr. Stoyanov expressed once more his country's strong will to become a member of NATO, as well as the European Union.

Asked whether he felt safe with the current Kosovo crisis, Mr. Stoyanov said not only Bulgarian politicians but his country's entire society was especially concerned about what was currently taking place in the Albanian- speaking Serbian province.

He said a possible deterioration of the situation in Kosovo could have an impact also on Bulgaria.

Asked about his opinion on relations between Sofia and Athens, the Bulgarian president said he took great pleasure to say that relations between the two nations were excellent. He added that, naturally, there were some pending issues, but the main targe thad been achieved, namely, mutual trust, respect and understanding.

Greek investments climb in Hungary

As increased investments by Greek enterpreneurs are being made in Hungary, Greece has climbed to the 13th place in the list of the neighbouring country's foreign investors, with invested capital currently amounting to US$60 million.

According to data given during a press conference yesterday on the occasion of Hungary's official participation at the 63rd Thessaloniki International Fair, trade between the two countries has also risen considerably, reaching in 1997 the record mark of US$134 million.

Int'l cotton conference opens in Athens

An international scientific conference entitled "New borders in cotton research", opened in Athens yesterday morning, organised by the Agriculture Ministry, the Cotton Organisation, the National Institute of Agricultural Research and the Panhellenic Conf ederation of Agricultural Cooperatives (PASEGES).

The conference which is the second of its kind, was declared open by Agriculture Minister Stefanos Tzoumakas.

During the four-days of the event, scientists in the field of agricultural research will present 360 papers on improving varieties, biotechnology, cultivation methods, physiology, quality of cotton, and environmental protection.

In a short address to participants, Mr. Tzoumakas referred to various data in relation to the production of cotton, stressing that Greece was among the ten top producers of cotton in the world, producing about 75 to 80 per cent of the European Union's total cotton produce.

WEATHER

Mostly fair weather throughout the country today withscattered cloud building up in the afternoon in western Greece, turning to rain or storms in the evening. Partly cloudy in Athens with temperatures between 20-31C. Same in Thessaloniki with thick cloud in the evening and temperatures from 18C to 28C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Tuesday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 294.188 British pound 489.770 Japanese yen (100) 224.500 French franc 50.909 German mark 170.684 Italian lira (100) 17.284 Irish Punt 427.552 Belgian franc 8.268 Finnish mark 56.098 Dutch guilder 151.270 Danish kr. 44.813 Austrian sch. 24.253 Spanish peseta 2.011 Swedish kr. 37.008 Norwegian kr. 38.182 Swiss franc 208.518 Port. Escudo 1.666 Aus. dollar 173.005 Can. dollar 193.658 Cyprus pound 578.078

(C.E.)


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