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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-08-05

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, 05/08/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Kranidiotis talks in Israel focus on trade, military cooperation
  • Greece launches derivatives market on Aug. 27
  • Latsis Group gets Ergobank
  • Stocks rise in bargain hunting
  • Kopelouzos Group in alliance with Italy's Enel
  • Titan, Lafarge to buy Egyptian cement maker
  • Greece on track for euro zone, analyst says
  • Port of Piraeus renews deal with Swiss container shipper
  • Tsohatzopoulos interview to Albanian daily
  • Gas taxes slashed in effort to curtail inflation
  • Britain's Prince Charles and sons in Greece
  • Black Sea cruises set to coincide with eclipse
  • Greece and Bulgaria to fight outbreak of epizootic disease
  • To the "Daily Bulletin" subscribers
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Kranidiotis talks in Israel focus on trade, military cooperation

Alternate Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis held separate meetings here yesterday with Israeli Foreign Minister David Levy and Minister to the Premier's Office Chaim Ramon for talks focusing on joint business prospects a nd bilateral military cooperation.

Mr. Kranidiotis is the first Greek government official to visit Israel after Labour leader Ehud Barak's recent election victory. The Greek minister said he discerned a "clearly upgraded" spirit of cooperation under the new Israeli government compared to the previous administration.

Specifically, the issue of a joint committee to study prospects for trade cooperation and the creation of various joint ventures was discussed.

In addition, Mr. Kranidiotis reportedly secured the participation of his interlocutors at an Israeli-Palestinian meeting to take place in Athens in early September, while he received reassurances regarding the visits of Israeli President Ezer Weizman an d Mr. Barak to Greece in the near future.

According to reports, both sides agreed over the possibilities for improved and closer cooperation in the military sector, with the Israeli navy chief set to visit Athens this month to be followed by National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos' visit to Israel in September.

In a related development, Israeli officials reiterated that Israeli-Turkish military cooperation is not directed against either Greece or Cyprus.

Mr. Kranidiotis stressed that Athens placed particular emphasis on the promotion of a peace process in the Middle East, especially since this could lead to a defusion of tensions and the downgrading of various military "axes and anti-axes" in the region .

Referring to a Cyprus solution, the Greek official said "a united Cyprus constitutes a factor for peace, while a divided Cyprus could constitute a source of anomaly with unpredictable consequences."

According to sources, Israel wants to improve relations with Cyprus within the framework of Euro-Mediterranean cooperation as well as in light of Cyprus' EU accession talks. Finally, Israeli officials briefed Mr. Kranidiotis on progress in the peace process and the problems faced.

Mr. Kranidiotis was also scheduled to meet with former premier Simon Peres and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

Greece launches derivatives market on Aug. 27

Greece's new derivatives market is due for launch on August 27 after contracts are signed with its 20 members.

Ready to sign the contracts with the Athens Derivatives Market (ADM) and its clearing house are 16 brokerages and four banks.

The third and final stage of preparation for the launch began on June 21 with the exchange's future members holding mock trading trading sessions from their offices for about 40 days.

The banks due to become members of the ADM are National Bank of Greece, Commercial Bank of Greece, Ergobank and Xiosbank.

The brokerages are National, Hellenic, PSK, Sigma, Telesis, Alpha, Kappa, Midland, Xios, Ergo, Omega, Aspis, Devletoglou, Euroxx, Metrolife and Macedonia-Thrace.

Banking members of the market will have to receive approval from the central bank.

Until the end of the year, the banks will act as members of the clearing house and take part in non-equities derivatives trading, which is due to be introduced in the autumn.

Towards the end of the year, they will also gain the right to engage in equity derivatives trading.

Latsis Group gets Ergobank

The Latsis-owned EFG Bank Group said yesterday that it had acquired a 50.1 percent stake in Ergobank following the completion of its offer to the target bank's shareholders.

The offer to shareholders was made through Consolidated Eurofinance Holdings (CEH), the parent of EFG Eurobank, which is destined to merge with Ergobank under the terms of the deal.

CEH, which already owns 20.57 percent of Ergobank, will acquire 12,025,000 further shares in order to secure the controlling stake, the EFG Bank Group said in a statement.

Preliminary results indicated that that the during the June 21-August 4 tender, a total of around 30,000 Ergobank shareholders accepted the offer, stating willingness to hand over 22,000,000 shares for stock in EFG Eurobank plus cash.

Following oversubscription of the tender, all accepting shareholders will receive an allocation of up to 200 Ergobank shares. For remaining shares tendered, stock will be scaled down on a pro-rata basi, the statement said.

Final results are due today after acceptance forms have been verified, it added.

The share exchange and cash payment are due for completion by August 10.

Stocks rise in bargain hunting

Equities ended higher yesterday on bargain hunting and brighter sentiment in markets abroad, taking prices above 4,400 points for the first time in five sessions. The general index ended 1.70 percent higher at 4,402.42 points from 4,328.79 points in the previous session.

Turnover was 190.264 billion drachmas from 156.593 billion drachmas a day earlier. Changing hands were 28,699,565 stocks.

Sector indices ended as follows: Banks (+1.13 pct), Leasing (-0.06 pct), Insurance (+6.08 pct), Investment (-1.18 pct), Construction (+4.84 pct), Industrials (+2.31 pct), Miscellaneous (+2.97 pct) and Holding (+3.51 pct).

The parallel market index for smaller capitalisation stocks ended 4.31 percent higher. The FTSE/ASE 20 index for heavily traded stocks and blue chips rose 1.18 percent to finish at 2,507.52 points.

National Bank of Greece ended at 21,400 drachmas, Alpha Credit Bank at 21, 300, Bank of Piraeus at 8,650, Ergobank at 32,448, Titan Cement (commom) at 30,150, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,800 and Intracom (common) at 21,695 drachmas.

Kopelouzos Group in alliance with Italy's Enel

Italy's state Enel energy corporation announced yesterday that it had forged an alliance with the Kopelouzos Group in electricity production and engineering construction.

A Reuters report from Rome quoted Enel as saying that Enelpower, a subsidiary, would take a 50 percent stake in the consortium, to be named Enelco, with Prometheus Gas and Damco Energy of the Kopelouzos Group holding the remaining 50 percent of equity.

Titan, Lafarge to buy Egyptian cement maker

Titan Cement Company and Lafarge, a French building materials manufacturer, have signed an agreement to acquire jointly the Beni Suef Cement Company of Egypt.

The two companies will own 95 percent of the firm by early 2000 when a phased sale process is completed, at a cost of around 150 million US dollars. The remaining five percent of shares will be owned by the plant's workers.

Titan is a blue chip on the Athens bourse.

Greece on track for euro zone, analyst says

Bank of America in Athens said yesterday that Greece was on track for euro zone entry despite stubborn inflation.

Reuters quoted the bank as saying that the country's European Union partners may agree to a minor realignment of the drachma's central parity to the euro.

BoA's annual report that the realignment would depend on the strength of the dollar and the yen ahead of planned entry on January 1, 2001.

Port of Piraeus renews deal with Swiss container shipper

The Piraeus Port Authority and Swiss-based Mediterranean Shipping Company yesterday ended months of negotiations for renewal of the container firm's contract at the port.

The original two-year contract was signed in November 1997, taking Piraeus to the 41st position in a ranking of world ports.

The latest deal on container movement has a five-year duration.

Tsohatzopoulos interview to Albanian daily

Greece, as a member of the European Union, is obliged to apply specific conditions for the residence of economic immigrants, National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos stressed in an interview published yesterday by a Tirana daily.

In statements to the daily "Caha Jone", Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said the presence of foreign workers in Greece will have a specific timelimit and aim, such as the acquisition of employment, adding that in this manner all problems will be overcome and will not affect bilateral relations. He also referred to the need for a policy of legalising the approximately 400,000 Albanians in Greece, as the two peoples have a "history of good neighbourly relations, friendship and cooperation, which they should retain in light of their common future in Europe."

Responding to a relevant question, he said the Greek military force in Albania should remain in place, as it has actively assisted in infrastructure projects.

Finally, he announced that the inauguration of a SE Europe multinational force command will take place in Athens on Sept. 2.

Gas taxes slashed in effort to curtail inflation

The government yesterday announced lower consumption taxes on gasoline as part of an ongoing effort to curb inflation in order to meet Maastricht criteria for Economic Monetary Union (EMU) entry.

National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said the reduced gas taxes, by five drachmas, along with a corresponding reduction in Value Added Tax (VAT) will amount to a 5.9-drachma per litre reduction, on average, at the pump.

The reduction was to take effect as of midnight yesterday and last until next June.

Indicative prices at petrol stations are 218.7 drachmas per litre for super and 202.7 drachmas for unleaded gasoline in Athens and Thessaloniki.

Development Minister Evangelos Venizelos described the reduction was part of a "gentlemens' agreement" with fuel wholesalers and retailers.

Britain's Prince Charles and sons in Greece

Britain's Prince Charles arrived in Athens yesterday with his two sons, William and Harry.

According to reports, Camilla Parker-Bowles, Charles' long-time companion, is already in Greece.

The royal family, along with Ms Parker-Bowles, are hosted aboard a luxury motorship, the 'Alexander', belonging to the Latsis family.

Black Sea cruises set to coincide with eclipse

Greece's largest cruise line, Royal Olympic Cruises, yesterday announced that it will schedule special cruises in the Black Sea next week to coincide with a total solar eclipse.

The firm said four of its vessels would carry passengers to the Black Sea, the area where the last total eclipse of the millennium on Aug. 11 will be seen at its most profound stage.

Scientists from NASA, including astronauts Scott Carpenter and Ronald Parise, who will be aboard one of the cruise ships, the "Olympic Countess", with special equipment in order to transmit clips of the eclipse at the Internet address: http://www.eclipse 99.nasa.gov

Greece and Bulgaria to fight outbreak of epizootic disease

Athens and Sofia are cooperating closely to curb an outbreak of the dangerous epizootic disease which broke out in SE Bulgaria late last month and has already caused hundreds of animals to be slaughtered.

The general directors of the Greek and Bulgarian veterinary services announced after an international meeting in the Black Sea port of Burgas yesterday that the two countries were formulating a joint strategy to combat the disease.

Epizootic disease broke out in SE Bulgaria and quickly spread to three departments of the country which border with Greece.

Approximately 536 sheep and other farm animals have already been destroyed in the three departments.

Both Greek and Bulgarian officials agreed at yesterday's meeting, which was convened to examine the situation, to set up a joint group of experts to coordinate efforts to curb the spread of the disease.

Athens responded immediately to a Bulgarian invitation to attend the meeting, despite the fact that only a few isolated cases of epizootic disease have been reported on the island of Rhodes.

Greek official Vassilis Stilas also expressed regret that Ankara had declined the invitation, saying the stance of Turkish veterinary officials was " incomprehensible", given the incidence of infectious animal diseases in Turkey and even though the authorities in the neighbouring country do not officially acknowledge it. His Bulgarian counterpart Ilian Batsavarov said he was extremely satisfied with the "excellent" cooperation between the Greek and Bulgarian services, not only in the present case but also in general.

To the "Daily 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 - as of Jan. 2, 2000 - be converted 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 Athens News Agency

WEATHER

Fine weather is forecast throughout Greece today with scattered cloud towards the evening. Northerly winds in the west, moderate in the east and strong in the Aegean. Athens will be sunny with temperatures ranging from 22-33C. Same in Thessaloniki with few clouds in the evening and temperatures from 21-31C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Thursday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          300.318
Pound sterling       487.092
Japanese yen (100)   261.709
French franc          49.271
German mark          165.246
Italian lira (100)    16.691
Irish Punt           410.372
Belgian franc          8.012
Finnish mark          54.358
Dutch guilder        146.659
Danish kr.            43.438
Austrian sch.         23.488
Spanish peseta         1.942
Swedish kr.           36.898
Norwegian kr.         38.906
Swiss franc          201.892
Port. Escudo           1.612
Can. dollar          200.245
Aus. dollar          197.408
Cyprus pound         559.270
Euro                 324.830
(C.E.)
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