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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-09-22

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, 22/09/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Greece previews 340-billion-drachma state equity-convertible bond
  • Kranidiotis concludes contacts with Libya's FM leadership
  • Papandreou to brief CoE on mission to Albania
  • Simitis to address Kallithea rally tonight
  • First-ever Olympic medallists' conference held in ancient Olympia
  • 'Spartathlon '98' commences on Friday
  • Civil aviation employees' union declares strike actions
  • Contract for Komotini power plant signed
  • Liani-Papandreou: 'Too soon to decide whether to enter politics'
  • Greek stocks slump, dragged down by markets abroad
  • One in three firms in tourist areas guilty of tax evasion
  • New dam, reservoir launched in northern Greece
  • Conference begins on improving quality in domestic tourism
  • Ministry explains EU funding package via Internet
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Greece previews 340-billion-drachma state equity-convertible bond

Finance Undersecretary Nikos Christodoulakis yesterday briefed some 80 major institutional investment firms in Britain on the issuing of a 340- billion-drachma Greek state equity-convertible bond, set to take place in two parts.

The first part will be in euros and will have a duration of five years and the remainder will be in drachmas and have a duration of three years.

Mr. Christodoulakis said that these Greek state securities provide investors with specific advantages such as a tax-free yield, a 5 per cent discount, as well as priority in the purchase of shares. The issuing of this state-equity convertible bond is na turally linked to the privatisation programme which will be implemented by the Greek government.

"With the issuing of the state equity-convertible bond we are aiming at making our intention to go ahead with privatisations politically lucid and our second target is to provide the opportunity for a wide spectrum of investors, who are not familiar wit h the stock exchange and its processes, to enter the Stock Exchange with security," Mr. Christodoulakis said.

The bonds, called Prometoha, will be convertible into the equity of firms to be privatised through the bourse from Jan. 1, 1999.

Handling the issue are National Bank of Greece, Eurobank and Paribas of France, an expert in equity-convertible privatisation bonds.

Book-building for domestic institutional investors will be held on Sept. 25- 29. The deadline for retail investors to subscribe to the public offer is Oct. 2.

Kranidiotis concludes contacts with Libya's FM leadership

Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis ended a two-day official visit to Libya over the weekend, where he met with that country's foreign minister and foreign undersecretary, Messrs. Obeidi and Montasser respectively.

Talks focused on the situation in the Balkans and southeast Mediterranean, Greek-Turkish relations as well as the Cyprus problem.

Mr. Kranidiotis received assurances from Libyan officials that certain outstanding debts to Greek firms will be settled.

Apart from ways to cooperate on social security matters, both two sides agreed on the establishment of a sea route to link Piraeus with Benghazi.

Papandreou to brief CoE on mission to Albania

Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou in his capacity as president of the Council of Europe's (CoE) ministerial committee will today brief the organisation on the outcome of his recent mission to Albania last weekend.

According to reports, Leni Fischer, the president of the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly, said Mr. Papandreou would give the assembly more details on his trip to Tirana, where he represented the CoE.

The European delegation, sponsored by the CoE, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Western European Union (WEU) and the European Union, urged Albania's political leaders to find a peaceful solution to the country's turmoil and issued a stern warning to opposition leader and former Albanian president Sali Berisha not to undermine stability in the country. Ms Fischer also called for self- restraint in Tirana, saying the Albanian crisis threatened the "fragile balance" in the Balkans, especially given the tension in the Yugoslav province of Kosovo.

Simitis to address Kallithea rally tonight

Prime Minister Costas Simitis will speak today in the near Athens district of Kallithea, an outdoor address touted by the ruling PASOK party as the premier's vision of Greece in the 21st century. The rally will take place two years after PASOK's victory in the September 1996 general elections. It also comes two years before the end of the government's period of office and the renewal of the people's confidence in it. The rally in Kallithea's Davaki square, which hopes to be reminiscent to a great extent of the large rallies held when PASOK's founder Andreas Papandreou was prime minister, will be the first and last open rally to be addressed by Mr. Simitis before municipal and prefectural elections are held next month. The rally will also honour the 24th anniversary of PASOK's founding in September 1974.

First-ever Olympic medallists` conference held in ancient Olympia

Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou yesterday stressed the need for an international campaign for the establishment of the "Olympic Truce", in an address at the first-ever Olympic medallists' conference in ancient Olympia.

Sports Undersecretary Andreas Fouras announced the government's intention to support the effort for the creation of a world union for Olympic champions, with its permanent headquarters in ancient Olympia.

"As the country where the Games were born, we have also a special burden of responsibility towards our heritage. This is why, in the Athens 2004 bid, we pledged that we would organise a competition where the Olympic values of sport, culture and peace wi ll go hand in hand. The 2004 games will be an opportunity for athletes, visitors and spectators to get acquainted with the history of ancient Olympics, and with the contemporary culture and people of our country.

Referring to the "Olympic Truce", Mr. Papandreou said it was a very remarkable initiative on which many hopes are based for the promotion of the significance of the Olympic message to the world of today, with the strengthening of the institution of the modern games and Olympic ideals and the parallel safeguarding of global respect for peace.

'Spartathlon '98' commences on Friday

A record number of athletes will be vying in the 16th international ultra- distance endurance race "Spar-tathlon '98", considered one of the most gruelling in the world.

The race begins on Friday at the foot of the Acropolis.

More than 190 athletes from 23 countries will have 36 hours to run the 246 kilometres to Sparta, southeastern Peloponnese, tracing the steps of the ancient Athenian courier Pheidippides, and running 1,200 metres up Mount Parthenio in the dead of night.

According to Herodotus' account of the Battle of Marathon, Pheidippides was sent to Sparta to ask for help when the Persians landed at Marathon. Herodotus says Pheidippides arrived in Sparta "the next day".

The idea for the Spartathlon came from John Foden, a British RAF wing commander who ran the course in 1982 with four RAF colleagues. The 1st International Spartathlon was organised in 1983 with the participation of 45 runners from 11 countries as well a s Greece.

Only about a third of the runners actually complete the course.

Civil aviation employees' union declares strike actions

The Federation of Civil Aviation Union Employees OSYPA announced four 24- hour rolling strikes starting as of Thursday as a warning in the event a bill prepared by the transport ministry on airports is not withdrawn immediately.

According to OSYPA's leadership, two bills to be tabled in parliament anticipate the creation of an airport company and an aeronavigation company, on the one hand, and the creation of a general secretariat subject to the ministry on the other.

OSYPA President Alevizopoulos said that airports and the aviation service will have one share each which will be subject to the Greek state, but the heads of the two companies will have the possibility of providing 49 per cent for private citizens.

Contract for Komotini power plant signed

Development Minister Vasso Papandreou said a power production unit fuelled by natural gas in Komotini was a project of major importance, modern planning and a high-level performance which will strengthen the country's balance of energy.

Ms Papandreou yesterday attended a signing ceremony by the firms (Swiss, Italian and Greek concerns) assigned the contract for the study and construction of the unit having a capacity of 492 megawatts. The unit will be built in an area covering 80 acres in Komotini's industrial sector and will use Russian natural gas as a fuel. The project's cost will exceed 80 billion drachmas and will be operational in the next three years.

The plant will receive 25 million cubic metres of water from the Gratini and Orato Rodopis dams for its operation. After being used, the water will be channelled to the Rodopi plain for irrigation purposes.

Ms Papandreou also laid the foundation stone for the SELMAN factory for "novopan" (an investment of 14.1 billion drachmas) and the Hellenic Petroleum S.A. group's plant for propylene film (an investment of 11.5 billion drachmas).

Liani-Papandreou: 'Too soon to decide whether to enter politics'

Dimitra Liani-Papandreou, the widow of PASOK founder and three-time premier Andreas Papandreou reportedly told Turkish reporters that "it is too soon for me to decide whether to enter politics. We have two years to go before the next gener al elections." In statements published by Turkish daily "Hurriyet", she hastened to add that "I have a great following and that is why many people fear me. However, one needs a great deal of money for a pre-election campaign."

"The political situation in Greece is very bad," Ms Liani-Papandreou said, adding: "With regard to the economy, we are losing our ties with Europe."

In an interview headlined "I was unfaithful to my husband for the sake of Andreas," Ms Liani-Papandreou was reported to have said that her greatest complaint was 'loneliness'.

"I kept Andreas in life for another 10 years," read another headline of the interview.

Greek stocks slump, dragged down by markets abroad

Greek equities ended sharply lower on the Athens Stock Exchange yesterday hit by renewed pressure in international markets.

The general index ended 4.22 percent down at 2,081.96 points, the lowest since April 3. Trading was moderate with turnover at 47.6 billion drachmas.

Sector indices suffered heavy losses across the board.

Banks dropped 4.36 percent, Insurance eased 1.84 percent, Investment fell 3.20 percent, Leasing was 1.70 percent off, Industrials plunged 4.19 percent, Construction ended 5.23 percent down, Miscellaneous ended 4.87 percent off and Holding fell 6.42 perc ent.

The parallel market index for small cap companies ended 2.59 percent lower, and the FTSE/ASE 20 blue-chip index finished 4.20 percent off at 1,256.20 points.

Broadly, decliners led advancers by 216 to 29 with another eight issues unchanged.

National Bank of Greece ended at 38,450 drachmas, Ergobank at 23,285, Alpha Credit Bank at 21,110, Ionian Bank at 10,005, Hellenic Telecoms at 6,550, Delta Dairy at 3,070, Intracom at 10,995, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,550 and Titan Cement at 17,980 drachmas.

One in three firms in tourist areas guilty of tax evasion

One in three companies in the country's tourist areas are tax evaders, the country's financial crimes squad said yesterday.

A report released by the finance ministry department said that of a total of 10,737 inspections in 8,953 companies made in August, 3,760 cases of tax evasion were found, or violations by 3,557 firms.

The rate of violation of tax law varied by category, the report said.

Evasion in large enterprises was 58.4 percent, followed by the self- employed (doctors, lawyers etc) at 56.3 percent, hotels at 47.16 percent, tourism enterprises at 45.5 percent, places of entertainment at 35.23 percent and fuel companies at 33.3 percent.

New dam, reservoir launched in northern Greece

Development Minister Vasso Papandreou yesterday inaugurated a new dam and reservoir linked to a hydroelectric station near Drama.

The dam and reservoir at Platanovrissi as well as the hydroelectric project on the Nestos River comply with environmental protection rules, Ms Papandreou said.

The 95-metre high dam is capable of retaining 450,000 cubic metres of water at the station, which has two units totalling 100 megawatts for the production of 240 gigawatts of energy annually.

Its design is considered to be pioneering as flying ash from thermo- electric stations in Ptolemaida have been used as one of the raw materials in the composition of ready mix concrete used in its construction.

Use of the flying ash is economical and environmentally sound.

Specialists hope that flying ash from lignite stations will be more more widely used in major infrastructure projects.

Conference begins on improving quality in domestic tourism

Improving the quality of tourist services in Greece is the theme of a two- day international conference that began at the Astir Vouliagmeni hotel near Athens yesterday.

The conference is part of a development ministry campaign naming 1998 as Quality Year in order to help strengthen the competitiveness of domestic enterprises ahead of World Tourism Day on September 29.

The outgoing secretary general of the Greek National Tourism Organisation (GNTO), Nikos Skoulas, said that the state agency had adopted a demand- driven strategy, part of which aimed at attracting fewer, but wealthier, foreign tourists.

This would enable Greek tourism enterprises to raise their prices, Mr. Skoulas said.

He also announced that in about 10 days GNTO would present its final proposals on switching to an international system of stars denoting the standard of hotels, replacing the categories currently in use.

GNTO's newly appointed secretary-general, Mihalis Kyriakidis, stressed that consumers had a right to expect quality, which producers were obliged to provide.

Otherwise, the country's tourism sector would be unable to cope with globalisation of the industry, and resulting fierce competition, Mr. Kyriakidis said.

Delegates attending the conference from the private sector strongly criticised the government's lack of strategy in tourism in the last 30 years and a resulting emphasis on quantity, not quality.

Ministry explains EU funding package via Internet

The national economy ministry yesterday launched a campaign via Internet to give the public access to information on the European Union's Community Support Framework (CSF) funds.

The ministry outlines how the CSF was designed, what it means for Greece and how it is being applied, how the package of funds will change the face of the country, and its role in improving the quality of everyday life in Greece.

The page's Internet address is http://www.mne.gr, where CSF is described as the country's largest development programme.

WEATHER

Cloud with scattered showers or storms will prevail throughout Greece on Today. Winds westerly, northwesterly, moderate to strong. Athens partly cloudy with temperatures between 15-26C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 14-21C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Tuesday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 287.154 British pound 484.790 Japanese yen (100) 216.167 French franc 51.106 German mark 171.160 Italian lira (100) 17.331 Irish Punt 428.346 Belgian franc 8.305 Finnish mark 56.316 Dutch guilder 151.925 Danish kr. 44.916 Austrian sch. 24.318 Spanish peseta 2.020 Swedish kr. 36.293 Norwegian kr. 38.569 Swiss franc 208.499 Port. Escudo 1.671 Aus. dollar 168.546 Can. dollar 188.460 Cyprus pound 575.360

(C.E.)


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