Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-02-04
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 04/02/1999 (ANA)
- Simitis: Govt to back second term for Stephanopoulos
- Thessaloniki metro for launch in autumn 2004
- TVX Hellas seeks 50 percent partner
- Equity mutual fund assets up 31.31 pct in January
- Stocks post new record after early slump
- Greek, Dutch software firms forge key alliance
- Commission forecasts for Greek economy
- Measures to better brief taxpayers
- Gasoline up, diesel down
- Court hears ARAMCO motion to freeze Vardinoyiannis' family's assets
- Burns cites US interest in improving trade ties with N. Greece
- Problems in delivery of Russian natural gas cited
- Insurance industry calls for new crusade against traffic accidents
- Foreign exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Simitis: Govt to back second term for Stephanopoulos
Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday expressed support for another term
in office by current President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos.
"He is a very able and competent president. He has correctly kept the
dictates of the Constitution and I believe he should be president of the
republic for the next four-year term," he said during an interview with the
private "Mega" television channel .
He stressed again that double elections for Greece and the European
Parliament would not take place in June, while he said he did not care who
would be his main opponent in the next national elections, whether it was
New Democracy leader Costas Karamanl is or Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos.
He stressed that the main issue at hand was for the government to carry out
Mr. Simitis categorically reiterated that Kurdish separatist leader
Abdullah Ocalan had not asked for political asylum in Greece, and that if
he came this would prove Turkish claims that Greece was fuelling the
"This would also be detrimental to the Kurds themselves, and Turkey would
be granted the additional argument that Greece was stoking tension and
exhibiting aggressive tendencies," he said.
Referring to the Cypriot government's order of the Russian-made S-300 anti-
aircraft missiles for installation on Cyprus, now cancelled, Mr. Simitis
said it had not been made during his term in office, and that its
cancellation, over which Greece concurred, was ultimately the best
He was responding to a question in reference to foreign minister Theodoros
Pangalos' statement earlier this week that the idea of the missiles was
"wrong from the start", and a subsequent comment by defence minister Akis
Tsohatzopoulos that "it was not a mistake".
He further said that "the US, Britain and the European Union have
undertaken, through statements, the obligation to move the Cyprus issue
again," and that Greece had to keep spurring the interest of the international
"The Cyprus issue makes progress because of the alertness of the international
community. When this alertness subsides, we have the obligation to remind
of the issue again, and this we achieved," he said.
Mr. Simitis said Greece's other strategic goal for many years, namely, that
Cyprus would start accession negotiations with the EU, was making progress
and that Turkey was realising it was losing in this process and was being
left further behind Greece.
He said this was a new development, allowing Turkey to again try create
"However, Greece is not interested in aggression, and will move ahead
towards its accession to EMU and Cyprus' EU membership negotiations," he
Referring to other matters, he said the education reform programme would
definitely go ahead as planned.
The prospect of falling interest rates would mean that the country would by
paying less for debt repayments and would have more money to spend in other
areas, the premier said.
The prime minister admitted that there were differences inside the ruling
PASOK party, but these should not be exaggerated, because events refuted
speculation. He further replied he would decide in 2004 if he would be
again a candidate for the premiers hip (provided PASOK won next year's
elections), as he held the view that one person should contribute as much
as he could and depending on conditions, and that ther should be renewal.
Thessaloniki metro for launch in autumn 2004
The Thessaloniki metro, which is to cost around 220 billion drachmas, will
start operating in the fall of 2004, Environment, Town Planning and Public
Works Minister Costas Laliotis said yesterday.
He was speaking after an inner cabinet meeting that approved a contract
with the Thessaloniki Metro consortium, led by Bouygues of France, to build
and operate the metro for 20 years. Ownership will then revert to the
Bouygues, the major shareholder, is to sign the contract with the state
Mr. Laliotis said that construction will begin immediately after ratification
of the deal by parliament, and take five years.
Preliminary works are to start six to eight months from parliamentary
approval, and loans will be concluded with banks around October for the co-
The metro line will have a length of nine kilometres and 789 metres from
the city's new railway station to the Depo neighbourhood.
Fourteen stations are to be built, and the metro will have a capacity of 18,
500 passengers in each direction at peak travelling times.
The project's total cost in current prices, 67 billion will come from state
coffers, 31 billion drachmas from the consortium's equity capital and the
rest in loans from the European Investment Bank, commercial banks and other
The deal also envisages a state subsidy on fares of 215 percent for a total
of 30 million tickets annually. Fares have been calculated on the basis of
a 1993 price of 110 drachmas including Value Added Tax.
Negotiations for the project had begun in 1993 with the project tender's
original winner - a consortium led by Michaniki of Greece - before the
ministry terminated the talks, citing major disagreements. It switched
instead to the Bouygues-led group.
TVX Hellas seeks 50 percent partner
TVX Hellas, a subsidiary of Canadian miner TVX Gold Inc., said yesterday it
was seeking a partner to buy 50 percent of its share capital.
The firm has a concession to mines in Halkidiki, northern Greece, and is to
build a gold unit there. In the past work was dogged by protests from local
It said in a statement that it would extend an existing deadline for bids
by several days to February 15 in order to allow investors to study the
investment plans. Working with its financial consultant, N.M. Rothchild
Inc., the listed parent company will allow several weeks for negotiations
before a partner is chosen, the statement said.
Equity mutual fund assets up 31.31 pct in January
Assets of domestic equity mutual funds recorded a substantial increase in
January, rising by 31.31 percent while their share of overall mutual funds
market rose to 7.2 percent from 5.82 percent in December.
Average returns on the category's 35 mutual funds since the beginning of
the year totalled 14.2 percent.
Ionian Equity topped the list on the basis of returns at 23.12 percent,
followed by Egnatia-Olympia (20.65 pct), Telesis Popular Equity (19.70 pct),
Alpha Trust Infrastructure (19.54 pct) and Eurohellenic Equity (18.28
Stocks post new record after early slump
Equities yesterday remained on a record-breaking track for the seventh
consecutive session on the Athens Stock Exchange with the general index
ending 0.86 percent up at 3,306.06 points.
The market initially dropped 1.80 percent but the fall led to a wave of
speculative buying, reversing the trend. Traders said that excessive
liquidity in the market prevented a normal downward correction of
Trading focused on banking shares once again.
Alpha Credit Bank soared 8.0 percent to 36,126 drachmas following its
board's decision to launch a rights issue.
The market also discounted a successful sale of a majority stake in state-
owned Ionian Bank. Non-binding bids are to be submitted to J.P. Morgan, the
tender's consultant, by February 8.
Commercial Bank, Ionian's main shareholder, surged 8.0 percent to 34,182
drachmas, followed by Ionian Bank with a 7.9 percent rise to 17,540
drachmas and Bank of Piraeus, up 8.0 percent to 11,113. drachmas.
On the other hand, National Bank of Greece finally ended a prolonged rally
to end 5.4 percent down at 21,500 drachmas.
Sector indices scored gains.
Banks rose 1.48 percent, Leasing ended 1.96 percent up, Insurance fell 0.22
percent, Investment jumped 3.14 percent, Construction rose 2.11 percent,
Industrials ended 0.66 percent higher, Miscellaneous ended 1.04 percentup
and Holding eased 1.64 percent .
Lambrakis Press hit the day's 8.0 percent limit up.
Ergobank ended at 26,005 drachmas, Titan Cement at 23,500, Hellenic
Petroleum at 2,305, Intracom at 15,400, Minoan Lines at 7,300, Panafon at
10,700 and Hellenic Telecoms at 8,450.
Greek, Dutch software firms forge key alliance
The Singular Group of Greece and Baan of the Netherlands yesterday
announced a strategic alliance in the software sector targeting 25
countries in eastern Europe.
The deal includes setting up a new company called Baan Eastern Europe
Localization Centre in which Singular Northern Greece will have an 85
percent stake, and Baan Company 15 percent.
The newly created firm will develop applications in eastern Europe based on
Singular Northern Greece is also to wholly acquire Baan Hellas, which in
turn will acquire Baan's subsidiaries in Poland, the Czech Republic and
The total cost of the investment, including the buyout price, is to total
8.0 million dollars over the next two years.
Commission forecasts for Greek economy
The period from March until the end of June is considered important for the
Greek economy and its prospects regarding the target of adopting the common
currency on Jan. 1, 2001.
The European Commission will release its first report this year with
forecasts and estimates concerning the economy's basic indicators at the
end of March. These indicators, inflation, debt, deficit, and interest
rates will be the ones on the basis of which the country will join the euro
End of May or early June, Commission experts will visit Greece to collect
data for its annual report, to be released in the autumn. This report will
determine whether Greece joins EMU.
Besides the Commission experts, officials of the Organisation for Economic
Cooperation and Development and the International Monetary Fund will be
visiting Greece in April and June, respectively, with a view to drafting
their own reports.
Measures to better brief taxpayers
Deputy Finance Minister George Drys announced measures yesterday aimed at
briefing taxpayers on how to complete their tax statements. However, he
said that taxpayers obliged to submit an E3 statement will have to register
the new Activitiy Code Number (KAD) in it.
Mr. Drys said the time limit for self-employed professionals and businesspeople,
who are obliged to submit the accompanying E3 document as well, to submit
tax statements will be extended for two weeks.
He further said that two special offices will be created at each tax
bureau. The one will receive tax statements from salary earners and
pensioners and the other those of self-employed professionals and business
An office manned by specialised staff will also be created to provide
advice for all categories of taxpayers.
Referring to the decision on KAD being registered in the E3 document, Mr.
Drys said the country was obliged to do so to harmonise itself with the
status applying in the European Union.
Gasoline up, diesel down
The sales prices of diesel and heating oil will decrease as of today and
for a week, while prices of gasoline will increase.
According to announcements by the development ministry and the Hellenic
Petroleum, prices of super and unleaded gasoline will increase by 0.30
drachmas per litre, diesel prices will decrease by 0.50 drachmas per litre
and those of heating oil by 0.70 dr achmas per litre (for quantities over 1,
In the Attica region and the Thessaloniki prefecture, super gasoline will
cost 192.2 drachmas per litre, unleaded oil 175.6 drachmas per litre and
heating oil 64.6 drachmas per litre.
Court hears ARAMCO motion to freeze Vardinoyiannis' family's assets
A Greek court yesterday discussed the ARAMCO oil company's request to
freeze the Vardinoyiannis' family's assets in Greece.
The Saudi Arabia-based ARAMCO and the Vardinoyiannis group-owned Motor Oil
are at odds over liabilities for the latter, as ARAMCO owns 50 per cent of
The motion includes the freezing for up to US$115 million, while Motor Oil
representatives told the court that according to an earlier settlement, the
Vardinoyiannis familly has already paid US$100 million out of a total of
US$329 million owed.
The court will rule on the motion by next Tuesday.
Burns cites US interest in improving trade ties with N. Greece
US ambassador to Athens Nicholas Burns yesterday pointed to Washington's
interest in improving trade relations with Thessaloniki and the wider
region of northern Greece.
Mr. Burns, speaking from Thessaloniki, said US firms were encouraged to
invest in northern Greece and he announced the preparation of a tourism
development congress to be held in Thessaloniki on April 26 and 27, with
the participation of 29 countries.
Problems in delivery of Russian natural gas cited
Development Minister Vasso Papandreou yesterday addressed a letter to
Russian Energy Minister Andrei Generalov pointing to continuing problems in
natural gas deliveries from Russia via Bulgaria to Greece.
According to ministry officials, Ms Papandreou is preparing to travel to
Moscow in an effort to resolve the issue.
Problems in delivery have persisted despite assurances from Russia last
Should deliveries drop the Keratsini and Lavrio power plants will have to
use oil, while other industries around Greece are already facing problems.
Insurance industry calls for new crusade against traffic accidents
The country's insurance companies are asking for a massive mobilisation in
both public and private sector bodies in order to curb traffic accidents,
as Greece continues to hold on to dour first place among EU member-
countries in terms of road accidents.
George Skourtis, president of a research, prevention and control of vehicle
accidents committee of the Greek Insurance Companies Association, yesterday
presented details about traffic accidents and the dire consequences on the
Presenting statistics from last year, insurance officials said that in 1998
crashes reported on Greek roads numbered as high as 24,875, out of which 1,
970 resulted to the death of 2,218 people.
Further, in 3,774 accidents, 4,896 passengers were seriously injured, while
a total of another 28,185 people had been lightly injuered in 19,131 car
Scattered rain in most parts of Greece today with light snowfall in the
mountainous regions. Winds northerly, moderate to strong. Athens will be
sunny with possible light rain in the evening and temperatures from 3-11C.
Sleet and light snowfall in Thessaloniki with temperatures from -3C to
Thursday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 280.686
Pound sterling 459.415 Japanese yen (100) 250.123
French franc 48.546 German mark 162.817
Italian lira (100) 16.446 Irish Punt 404.338
Belgian franc 7.894 Finnish mark 53.558
Dutch guilder 144.503 Danish kr. 42.815
Austrian sch. 23.142 Spanish peseta 1.914
Swedish kr. 35.674 Norwegian kr. 36.900
Swiss franc 199.258 Port. Escudo 1.588
Aus. dollar 180.460 Can. dollar 185.663
Cyprus pound 548.576