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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 99-08-03

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, 03/08/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Central bank approves Latsis bid for Ergobank
  • Stocks fall on domestic banks, declines abroad
  • Overnight hotel stays rise in June
  • Greek, Israeli businesses seek to boost ties
  • Autohellas IPO heavily oversold
  • Strintzis Lines posts H1 rise in sales
  • New building permits rise in Attica
  • Kranidiotis departs for Israel tomorrow
  • Kyprianou: Nicosia awaiting UN chief's invitation for Cyprus talks
  • New port works in Mykonos
  • Mayor touts new organisation as complementary to 2004 committee
  • Tsohatzopoulos: More professional soldiers necessary
  • Bomb rocks Greece-Israel Friendship Society offices
  • To the "Daily ANA Bulletin" subscribers
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Central bank approves Latsis bid for Ergobank

The Bank of Greece yesterday endorsed a bid by the Latsis Group for the acquisition of a 50.1 percent stake in Ergobank.

The banking and credit committee said that the acquisition would not jeopardise the bidder's solvency and capital adequacy, and was therefore acceptable.

At the same time, it ruled that another bid for a controlling stake in Ergobank submitted by Bank of Piraeus was not eligible for study.

Bank of Piraeus told the central bank on July 30 that it had lost interest in the takeover after Ergobank's manangement recommended to shareholders that they should accept an improved offer by the Latsis Group.

Piraeus added that it had left its bid in place until the sale tender ends on August 4 for purely legal reasons.

The bid by the Latsis Group was made through Consolidated Eurofinance Holdings, the parent company of EFG Eurobank, with which Ergobank is eventually destined to merge.

EFG Eurobank is already a minority shareholder in Ergobank, along with Deutsche Bank of Germany.

All the banks involved in the acquisition belong to the private sector and are listed on the Athens Stock Exchange.

Stocks fall on domestic banks, declines abroad

Equities dropped yesterday in their seventh straight decline to finish off the day's lows in roller-coaster trade after rising early in the session, slumping, and then reviving slightly at the end of the day.

Dragging down the market were declines at the opening in European stock exchanges, and profit-taking in the domestic banking sector.

The general index ended 0.76 percent lower at 4,312.25 points from 4,345.13 points in the previous session. During trade, the index briefly dropped below 4,300 points.

Turnover was 159.974 billion drachmas from 194.484 billion drachmas a day earlier. Changing hands were 26,258,069 stocks.

Sector indices ended as follows: Banks (-1.43 pct), Leasing (-2.64 pct), Insurance (+2.37 pct), Investment (+1.52 pct), Construction (-0.51 pct), Industrials (+0.19 pct), Miscellaneous (-0.16 pct) and Holding (-1.15 pct).

The FTSE/ASE 20 index for heavily traded stocks and blue chips dropped 1.23 percent to finish at 2,473.12 points.

National Bank of Greece ended at 21,005 drachmas, Alpha Credit Bank at 21, 600, Bank of Piraeus at 8,610, Ergobank at 29,300, Titan Cement (commom) at 30,500, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,795 and Intracom (common) at 20,250 drachmas.

Overnight hotel stays rise in June

Overnight stays in hotels around the country rose by 8.14 percent in June against the same month of 1998 on the basis of a sample of about 300 units, the National Statistics Service (NSS) said yesterday.

Average occupancy was 85.12 percent against 78.71 percent in June last year, NSS said in a statement.

Also in June 1999, the number of passengers arriving on charter flights at the country's main airports totalled around 800,000 against 694,000 in the same month of last year, showing a 15.26 rise, the statement said.

However, the Union of Athens Hoteliers reported a more than 20 percent decline in occupancy after April, when the Kosovo crisis erupted.

Greek, Israeli businesses seek to boost ties

Representatives of Greek and Israeli trade met in Thessaloniki yesterday to discuss expanding trade links and taking joint initiatives in the Balkans.

The two sides agreed to arrange business missions by sector of activity, the Association of Northern Greek Exporters (SEBE) said in a statement.

SEBE, which hosted the meeting, said the Israeli delegates sought cooperation in advanced technology, the environment, farm technology and water resource management.

The meeting also called for the creation of information channels on tender announcements and equipment and raw materials supplies.

Representatives of SEBE and the Israeli Exports Institute are to arrange a new meeting in order to exchange trade data on the Balkans.

Taking part in yesterday's session were officials of the Israeli trade and foreign ministries, the country's embassy in Athens, and the Israeli Exports Institute.

On the Greek side were the leaders of northern trade groups and Thessaloniki's water board.

Autohellas IPO heavily oversold

An initial public offer by Autohellas Hertz to enter the main market of the Athens Stock Exchange was oversubscribed by 125 times, the company said in a statement yesterday.

It was seeking 11.7 billion drachmas in capital through the issue of 4.5 million shares at 2,600 drachmas each.

The IPO's lead underwriter was Alpha Credit Bank and its adviser Telesis Securities.

Autohellas Hertz plans to renew and expand its fleet of more than 11,000 motor vehicles.

Strintzis Lines posts H1 rise in sales

Strintzis Lines, a passenger shipper listed on the Athens bourse, yesterday reported a rise in first-half sales of 21 percent to 8.9 billion drachmas from 7.4 percent billion drachmas a year earlier.

The increase was achieved despite the introduction of three new ships by rival companies on the Adriatic route it plies, Strintzis said in a statement.

The company is currently carrying out a 95-billion-drachma investment plan for the construction of five new ships at three shipyards - Van de Giessen, Daewoo and Hellenic Shipyards.

Strintzis will use the ships on its Adriatic and domestic routes.

New building permits rise in Attica

The number of new building permits issued in the Attica prefecture showed an increase in January to May but declined in the rest of the country, the National Statistics Service (NSS) said yesterday.

Building activity rose by 10 percent in Attica in the five-month period but dropped by 4.8 percent in the rest of the country, NSS said in a statement.

In May, the number of permits rose by 1.0 percent in Attica and declined by 12 percent in the rest of the country, the statement said.

Kranidiotis departs for Israel tomorrow

Alternate Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis leaves for Israel tomorrow on the first visit by a Greek government official since the new Israeli government headed by Labour's Ehud Barak assumed power. Mr. Kranidiotis is scheduled to meet with Israel i FM David Levy and the minister to the premier's office, Chaim Ramon, for talks on bilateral relations, conditions in the region and an upcoming Israeli-Palestinian meeting in Athens.

The Greek minister is also expected to meet with Jerusalem Patriarch Diodoros for discussions on issues related to the Patriarchate.

Mr. Kranidiotis is expected to also meet with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

Kyprianou: Nicosia awaiting UN chief's invitation for Cyprus talks

Cyprus is awaiting an invitation from United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan to resume dialogue on resolving the island's protracted political problem, the Speaker of the Cyprus House of Representatives, Spyros Kyprianou, said in the Cretan city of H ania yesterday, where he attended events marking the tragedy caused by the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974.

Referring to the process of talks between Greece and Turkey, initiated last week, Mr. Kyprianou said he had nothing against such a rapprochement, but could offer a word of caution:

"The Turks know how to work systematically in order to get rather than give, " he said.

"For Turkey to change its stand, it must feel the pressure of the international community, mainly of Europe, but even more by the United States," he added.

New port works in Mykonos

New port works were inaugurated on the popular holiday island of Mykonos yesterday.

Public Works Minister Costas Laliotis, Merchant Marine Minister Stavros Soumakis and local government officials and business leaders attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony. An estimated 14 billion drachmas in upgrades are expected to solve long-standing problems at one of the busiest tourist destinations in Greece. The upgraded port's interior will now span some 700 metres and be able to accomodate up to 150-200 small vessels, fishing boats as well as hydrofoils.

Mayor touts new organisation as complementary to 2004 committee

Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos yesterday announced the establishment of the "Athens-Third Millennium" organisation, saying the new body aims to exploit opportunities in the next century in parallel with the Athens 2004 Games.

The Athens mayor said the organisation will complement the Athens 2004 Games' organising committee, "with which the municipality of Athens will continue its constructive cooperation," as he noted.

However, the Athens mayor expressed concern over the course of the 2004 projects, stressing that "the municipality of Athens, within the framework of the Olympics contract it has signed with the International Olympics Committee as the host city, will en sure the realisation of the Games' aims and prospectsI"

He also stressed that the municipality has the obligation to "ensure the international credibility" of the country.

Mr. Avramopoulos underlined that the new body will be charged with aiding the Athens 2004's organising committee in all sectors.

Finally, he said the presidium of the new organisation will include all political forces represented on the municipal council.

Tsohatzopoulos: More professional soldiers necessary

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos yesterday announced the creation of a necessary legal framework to hire up to 10,000 full-time non- commissioned.

The measure was decided upon to counteract the declining number of conscripts available for military service every year.

Military leaders expect about 83,000 conscripts to enlist this year, while in 10 years the number is expected to decline to about 57,000.

In an interview with an Athens daily, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said the new programme is also necessary as new weapons are technologically more advanced and need permanent personnel for realiable use.

About 5,000 professional soldiers are already serving in the Greek armed forces on five-year enlistment contracts.

Bomb rocks Greece-Israel Friendship Society offices

A homemade firebomb went off yesterday evening at the entrance of the Greece-Israel Friendship Society near the central Athens district of Exarhia. The blast from the medium-sized propane-gas cannisters shattered windows in the building, while firefighters extinguished an ensuing blaze.

An unidentified caller to an Athens daily later claimed responsibility for the attack, saying he represented a group called "black star".

Alternate Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis condemned the attack, reaffirming the Greek government's determination to reinforce friendly relations with Israel.

To the "Daily ANA Bulletin" subscribers

Dear friends,

As you are aware, technological developments in the mass media sector are rapid. Today, all the news services are offered online. The "electronic newspaper" supplements, and in many cases replaces, the printed newspaper. Contact via e-mail also affords the ability for direct communication.

These developments, as many others, have also influenced our own work here at Athens News Agency (ANA), which is adapting all its services to the new technology. In the framework of these changes, the "Daily Bulletin" will P as of Jan. 2, 2000 P be conv erted from a printed to an electronic medium for our subscribers.

With this change, our subscribers will: a) receive our news items online, at the moment the news is breaking. b) receive the next day's "Daily Bulletin" on their screens at midnight, with the ability to print it out if they wish or simply view on screen. c) receive the "Bulletin" either via the paid ANA services on the Internet, or via e-mail sent to a subscriber's e-mail address. d) also have the ability, for a small surcharge, to utilise the ANA's English-language data bank, which contains all the news items appearing in the "Daily Bulletin" since 1992.

We believe that these changes, which correspond with the new function of the international and national news agencies, will satisfy subscribers' needs for immediate and credible information. In order to subscribe to this service, you must have a PC and a modem, or an e-mail address.

All who wish to continue receiving our services must prepare for these changes which, as stated, will commence on Jan. 2, 2000.

Takis Mantis, the director of ANA's informatics and telecommunications department, is at your disposal for any technical information on tel: 64.00.560 and 64.00.038.

I sincerely hope all our subscribers will adapt to these necessary technological changes.

Andreas Christodoulides, ANA General Director

WEATHER

Fair weather is forecast throughout most of the country today, but towards evening it is expected to be cloudy with rain and storms mainly in the north. Winds will be northerly, light to moderate and strong in the Aegean. Sunny during the day and cloudy towards the evening in Athens, with temperatures ranging from 22-33C. Partly cloudy in Thessaloniki in the day and cloudy with rain or storms in the evening. Temperatures will range from 21-31C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Tuesday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          302.620
Pound sterling       489.592
Japanese yen (100)   265.499
French franc          49.225
German mark          165.095
Italian lira (100)    16.677
Irish Punt           409.994
Belgian franc          8.004
Finnish mark          54.307
Dutch guilder        146.523
Danish kr.            43.388
Austrian sch.         23.466
Spanish peseta         1.940
Swedish kr.           36.855
Norwegian kr.         38.940
Swiss franc          202.170
Port. Escudo           1.611
Can. dollar          200.384
Aus. dollar          196.347
Cyprus pound         557.504
Euro                 322.896
(C.E.)
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