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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-11-03

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, 03/11/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Greek equities jump on flood of encouraging news
  • State telecom gets bigger weighting in FTSE/ASE index
  • Gov't pledges to lift tax assessment criteria from 2000
  • Share capital increase for Bank of Central Greece
  • Greece, Crimea agree on tourism cooperation
  • Counter-incentives for pensioners' employment in draft bill
  • Olympic Airways flights to Lisbon begin
  • New NATO sub-headquarters in Tyrnavos soon to become operational
  • Tsohatzopoulos, Papandreou attend Greek-Jewish event in London
  • EuroMP Svoboda discusses report regarding EU-Turkey relations
  • Parliament debate continues, confidence vote scheduled for today
  • Togo FM in Athens
  • Thai foreign undersecretary in Greece
  • OTE shares begin trading at NY Stock Exchange
  • Roussel trial continues
  • Teenager implicated in Albanian burglars' shooting released on bail
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Greek equities jump on flood of encouraging news

Greek stocks finished sharply higher yesterday, surging through the 2,200- point barrier for the first time in around 30 sessions following a barrage of promising news to fuel sentiment.

The Athens general share index ended 5.86 percent higher at 2,289.60 points. Turnover was 376.6 billion drachmas on 63,982,00 stocks traded.

Of the total, 69.1 billion drachmas accounted for normal trade - sharply up on recent sessions - and the remainder block trades.

Injecting 307.5 billion drachmas of capital into the market was the transfer of 50.4 million shares in Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) from the Greek state to underwriters in the state firm's third float.

The stock will then be distributed to new shareholders.

OTE's share closed at 6,775 drachmas, up 375 drachmas.

Boosting the market was the success of OTE's third float and a sharp decline in bank rates that is likely to bring down rates on state securities.

In addition, a report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development revised its forecasts upwards for the domestic economy, and investment houses abroad said the prospects were sound for Greece to enter European economic and monetary union by the government's target date of January 1, 2001.

Sectors posted gains across the board.

The heavily weighted banking index soared 7.92 percent, near the 8.0 percent upper daily volatility limit for individual stocks.

Beyond OTE, the most actively traded stocks were Strintzis Lines, Mytilineos and Hellenic Petroleum.

Among the day's biggest percentage gains at the 8.0 percent limit up were National Portfolio, Bank of Greece and Intracom (common).

The day's biggest percentage losers were Viosol, Lanakam and Parnassos Enterprises.

National Bank of Greece ended at 43,200 drachmas, Commercial Bank of Greece at 25,758, Alpha Credit Bank at 24,294 drachmas, Intracom common) at 12,679 and Titan Cement Company (common) at 18,340 drachmas.

State telecom gets bigger weighting in FTSE/ASE index

Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) yesterday acquired a 35 percent weighting on the Financial Times/Athens Stock Exchange (FTSE/ASE- 20) blue chip index, up from 25 percent, the bourse said in a statement.

The change, effective after yesterday's session, resulted from the transfer of 50,405,420 OTE shares from the state to underwriters, who will then distribute the stock among shareholders, completing the state telecom's third float.

Gov't pledges to lift tax assessment criteria from 2000

National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou yesterday promised that unpopular tax assessment criteria applying to many small and medium sized firms would be lifted from 2000.

Mr. Papantoniou was speaking to representatives of the General Confederation of Light Industries and Traders.

The representatives had complained during a meeting with the minister about higher taxes they would pay in 1998 due to the current system, and also about a rise in tax assessment rates on property.

Mr. Papantoniou pledged that the government would boost funding to small and medium sized enterprises from the European Union's Third Community Support Framework.

Share capital increase for Bank of Central Greece

A Bank of Central Greece general assembly of holders of ordinary shares decided yesterday to increase the bank's share capital by 5.5 billion drachmas with the privileged sale price of 2,000 drachmas per share.

Each holder of old shares is entitled to one new share for every four old ones. In parallel, the general assembly ratified the sale of 70,000 shares to the bank's staff at the privileged price of 2,000 drachmas each.

The formal ratification of the decision to increase the bank's share capital will be carried out by the general assembly of holders of privileged shares which will convene on Nov. 16.

Greece, Crimea agree on tourism cooperation

A high-ranking delegation from Ukraine's autonomous Crimean region had talks in Athens on Monday with Greek National Tourist Organisation (GNTO) president Yiannis Stefanidis on bilateral cooperation in the tourism sector.

The delegation was headed by Crimean Premier S. Kunitsyn and included Tourism Minister A. Taryanik and the Mayor of Yalta, V. Marchenko.

The meeting took place on the occasion of the twinning of the cities of Yalta and Rhodes.

During the meeting, a memorandum was signed within the framework of a bilateral agreement providing for tourism cooperation between Greece and Ukraine.

The memorandum foresees an exchange of information on tourism matters, cooperation in tourism industry training and the fostering of contacts between travel agencies aimed at increasing the movement of tourists between Greece and Crimea.

Counter-incentives for pensioners' employment in draft bill

The initiation of counter-incentives for work done by pensioners will apparently be one of the most thorny issues in the new insurance bill, the so-called "small package" on insurance, which will be tabled on Thursday and is expected to reach Parliament in about mid-December.

The counter-incentives will be finally included in the bill and will concern all pensioners who are working, except for those who are self- employed. The main idea will be to curb the pensions of all who continue to work after their pensioning off.

The cutback will be estimated in excess of a certain amount which, according to reports, will be 200,000 or 250,000 drachmas and will even be able to reach 70 per cent of the excess amount of the ceiling. The bill will also anticipate the suspension of the pensions of pensioners continuing to work and who are below 55 years of age.

The bill will anticipate a transitional two-year period concerning pensioners who are working at present to enable necessary changes in their family planning to take place in a more moderate manner. On the other hand, its clauses will be applied immedia tely for all being pensioned off after the date the new law will take effect.

Olympic Airways flights to Lisbon begin

Olympic Airways (OA) last Sunday inaugurated flights to Lisbon via Rome, in collaboration with the Portuguese carrier TAP-AIR. Three flights are scheduled to Lisbon weekly on Monday, Friday and Sunday.

New NATO sub-headquarters in Tyrnavos soon to become operational

The formal beginning of operations at a new NATO sub-headquarters in Tyrnavos, central Greece, was signalled yesterday with a ceremony held at installations of the former Schinas army camp.

A nucleus of about 60 Greek officers from the NATO LSC staff have been restationed from the First Army Corps.

The sanctification ceremony was held in the presence of the First Army's commander, Lt.-Gen. Constantinos Panayiotakis and LSC commander Maj.-Gen. Emmanuel Mantzanas, as well as the mayor of Tyrnavos Stavros Dovas.

National Defence General Staff Chief Athanassios Tzoganis will visit the area today and will visit both the headquarters and the First Army.

The restationing of the approximately 60 Greek officers at the NATO LSC Staff commenced from the end of September, and to date, 135 army, air force and navy officers arrived at the facility.

Tsohatzopoulos, Papandreou attend Greek-Jewish event in London

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos and Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou Sunday evening attended a dinner in London marking the end of a Greek-Jewish week of events.

Mr. Papandreou, who was the main speaker at the dinner, said that the foreign ministry has decided to donate to the Jewish Museum in Thessaloniki some 2,000 official documents referring to Jews in Greece before and after WWII, showcasing the excellent relations between the Greek-Jewish communities and the state.

"Other countries hide their archives because they prove embarrassing for them today," Mr. Papandreou said, adding:

"I am proud of the fact that Greece, faithful to its democratic principles, did not stumble during World War II. We jointly fought and resisted fascism, racism and Nazism, as one nation, Christians and Jews alike".

EuroMP Svoboda discusses report regarding EU-Turkey relations

Austrian Eurodeputy Hannes Svoboda paid a short working visit to Greece yesterday for a briefing on Greek-Turkish relations by Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos and Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis.

Mr. Svoboda, who is vice-president of the Europarliament's Socialist Group, has prepared a report for the Europarliament on the progress to date in relations between the Union and Turkey.

Earlier this year, Mr. Svoboda visited Ankara, where he had talks with high- ranking Turkish government officials.

According to sources, both Mr. Pangalos and Mr. Kranidiotis expressed support for facilitating Turkey's European vocation, but on the condition that Ankara complies with international rules and accepts the jurisdiction of the International Court at The Hague, which is a basic precondition for the accession to the EU of 11 candidate-countries.

Mr. Svoboda's report will be discussed by the Europarliament's Foreign Affairs Committee later this month and presented to the European Parliament plenary in Strasbourg in mid-December.

Parliament debate continues, confidence vote scheduled for today

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said yesterday that tonight's confidence vote in Parliament would reflect acceptance of the government's work by a majority of the 300-member House.

He added that the confidence vote could not be seen in any other light "such as a vote of tolerance".

Prime Minister Costas Simitis asked for a confidence vote last Thursday after carrying out a minor cabinet reshuffle following a setback for the ruling PASOK party in local elections last month.

With their vote, the spokesman said, PASOK deputies will confirm their confidence in the government while at the same time giving a mandate for the continuation of "the great task" which it has undertaken.

Debate continued for the second day yesterday with National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou refuting the main objections against the government's economic and social policies.

In terms of delay in EMU accession, Mr. Papantoniou argued that no other country among those that already joined EMU had such a "low starting point", such as Greece, adding that in 1993 the deficit was at 14 per cent of the national product, inflation was at 14 per cent and interest rates at 28 per cent, while the drachma was in a "free fall" and the public debt was "galloping".

Togo FM in Athens

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos held talks with his counterpart from Togo, Cocu Josef Kofingo, at the foreign ministry yesterday.

It is the first time that he met with a counterpart from this west African country.

Mr. Kofingo said that Greece and Togo have already had cooperation through the framework of multipartite relations, via the LOME contacts, which are also the base for relations between the European Union and African, Caribbean and Pacific countries.

Thai foreign undersecretary in Greece

Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis yesterday had a meeting with his Thai counterpart, Paribatra Sukhumband, who is currently visiting Greece.

During the meeting, the two officials discussed the relations between the two countries, the economic crisis in southeast Asian countries as well as their relations with the European Union, while Mr. Kranidiotis briefed Mr. Sukhumband on the situation in the Balkans, the Greek-Turkish relations, as well as developments on the Cyprus problem.

OTE shares begin trading at NY Stock Exchange

State-run Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) yesterday became the first Greece-based utility or company to be traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).

At press time, OTE's stock price rose by 4 per cent in the first two hours of trading, with a volume of 3,110,000 shares.

OTE Managing Director Georgios Chrysolouris declared open Monday's NYSE session at the world's foremost bourse. NYSE's leadership also gave to Mr. Chrysolouris a certificate of OTE's inclusion on the floor.

Roussel trial continues

The trial of Thierry Roussel, the father of 14-year-old Athina Onassis Roussel, heir to the vast fortune of late shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis, continued in an Athens court yesterday.

Mr. Roussel has been sued for perjury, false accusations and slander against the president and three members of the Onassis Foundation, following his charges of mismanagement by the Onassis Foundation's board.

The three members of the board were acquitted through a relative court ruling, while the president of the Onassis Foundation, Stelio Papadimitriou, yesterday continued his testimony before the court.

Mr. Papadimitriou testified that "...Thierry Roussel is trying to enforce his suzerainty on the Foundation. He has sent letters in the past accusing us of mismanagement, among other things. I did not reply to him, I simply forwarded the letter to the min isters of justice and finance. Mr. Roussel is trying to get what he wants through violence and threats..."

The trial continues.

Teenager implicated in Albanian burglars' shooting released on bail

A 17-year-old teenager charged with killing two Albanian burglars was released from custody yesterday, following a joint decision by a prosecutor and magistrate.

The teenager shot the two Albanians with a shotgun early Saturday morning in the village of Asprokampos, Corinth prefecture. Both victims were seating in a stolen vehicle - loaded with items from the teen's residence and outside his home. In his initial statement to authorities, he said the shotgun discharged accidentally and while he was carrying the weapon in self defence. Police discovered that the Albanians were also armed.

A Corinth prosecutor initially charged the youth with intentional homicide. Complicity charges were also filed against the teen's 28-year-old uncle, Panayiotis Haralambopoulos.

The teen was released on one million drachmas bail, while his uncle was released on a 500,000-drachma bail.

Most Asprokampos villagers sided openly with the teen during court proceedings.

WEATHER

Overcast weather is forecast throughout Greece today. Light rain in the west of the country and also possibly on the islands of the eastern Aegean Sea and the Dodecanese. Local fog in the morning, particularly in mainland Greece. Winds southwesterly, light to moderate. Spring-like weather in Athens with temperatures between 15-23C. Partly cloudy in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 8-19C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Tuesday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 277.353 British pound 462.312 Japanese yen (100) 239.637 French franc 50.110 German mark 168.065 Italian lira (100) 16.990 Irish Punt 418.247 Belgian franc 8.147 Finnish mark 55.278 Dutch guilder 149.003 Danish kr. 44.211 Austrian sch. 23.893 Spanish peseta 1.978 Swedish kr. 35.781 Norwegian kr. 37.865 Swiss franc 205.845 Port. Escudo 1.641 Aus. dollar 173.302 Can. dollar 179.552 Cyprus pound 567.384

(C.E.)


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