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Athens News Agency: News in English, 00-09-27

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] Shipwreck - Overall Lead
  • [02] Weather Forecast-Thursday
  • [03] Foreign Exchange Rates-Thursday
  • [04] Druckfarben Hellas-Balkan expansion
  • [05] Greece-EU-oil prices
  • [06] ASE-London visit
  • [07] Heracles Cement-Halkis Cement-merger
  • [08] ASE-close

  • [01] Shipwreck - Overall Lead

    27/09/2000 22:38:07

    The bodies of 63 people, drowned when a ferry rammed into a rocky outcropping in stormy weather and sank two miles off Paros, a central Aegean island, on Tuesday, were recovered by early Wednesday evening, the islands port authority said.

    The tragedy took place at approximately 10:20 p.m. on Tuesday as the 3,783-ton, 110-meter ferry "Express Samina" ran aground and sank near the islet of Portes off the island of Paros, at the central Aegean.

    Port authority sources announced that 452 were rescued of a yet undetermined number of passengers and crew, while about 20 of those rescued, were injured but none was in critical condition and nine persons were still missing.

    Among those already rescued there were 72 foreign nationals, and among those drowned was a Norwegian national, Ilia Heisten Juul, 51.

    According to reports the number of those killed was expected to climb higher, as hopes of finding survivors diminish as time passes, because of the weather conditions in the region. This was the worst accident on Greek seas, since 1965, when the ferry ?Iraklion? sank off the Aegean island of Falkonera killing 217 people.

    Paros Port Authority Vice-Commander Dimitrios Malamas, 40, should be counted among the victims of the tragedy, as he died on duty of heart failure, during his efforts to coordinate the search and rescue efforts.

    Paros residents were the first to set out with their commercial fishing boats to rescue passengers risking their lives and livelihoods, as Hellenic Airforce C130s lighted the skies with flares, but the residents of Paros did not stop at the rescue as they also gave their best in hospitality to the victims.

    Four British naval vessels already in the region were also instrumental in minimising the numbers of those drowned.

    Initially it was reported that the ship carried approximately 500 passengers and crew, but that number was amended as reports came in of passengers purchasing tickets later on board and not via the central databank system.

    Gale force winds were prevailing in the area at the time of the accident, making rescue operations highly difficult.

    The "Express Samina" had departed at 5 p.m. from Piraeus for Paros, Naxos, Ikaria, Samos and Patmos.

    Justice Minister Michalis Stathopoulos announced in Parliament on Wednesday that there would be a full judicial inquiry into the causes of the shipwreck and that charges would be pressed against those responsible, as well as the ship's owners.

    Stathopoulos, expressing the deep grief and shock of the government, said that the accident was not only a tragedy but that there was also strong evidence of "criminal negligence".

    [02] Weather Forecast-Thursday

    27/09/2000 18:56:11

    Scattered cloud is forecast throughout the country on Thursday. Winds will be northerly, light to very strong, turning gale force in the Aegean. Temperatures in the west will range from 12C to 28C; in the rest of the mainland from 10C to 26C; and in the Aegean from 17C to 25C. Light cloud over Athens with temperatures between 16C and 24C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 13C to 22C.

    [03] Foreign Exchange Rates-Thursday

    27/09/2000 18:56:02

    Indicative rates released by the central bank for the next working day.

    Thursdays rates (buying)

    Euro 336.566

    U.S. dollar 380.015

    German mark 172.083

    French franc 051.309

    Pound sterling 556.314

    Irish punt 427.351

    Belgian franc 008.343

    Luxembourg franc 008.343

    Dutch guilder 152.727

    Italian lira (100) 017.382

    Austrian schilling 024.459

    Danish kroner 045.100

    Swedish kroner 039.581

    Finnish mark 056.606

    Spanish peseta 002.023

    Portuguese escudo 001.678

    Japanese yen (100) 352.517

    Swiss franc 220.695

    Norwegian kroner 041.823

    Cyprus pound 588.256

    Canadian dollar 255.063

    Australian dollar 208.900

    [04] Druckfarben Hellas-Balkan expansion

    27/09/2000 17:04:21

    Druckfarben Hellas seeks an expanding role in the Balkans through a closer cooperation with the German group Huber.

    The partnership deal between the two companies envisages promoting and distributing Huber's products in Serbia, FYROM and Albania by Druckfarben Hellas.

    The company will invest 4.3 billion drachmas to build a pilot paints unit to cover the region's needs.

    Druckfarben Hellas reported a 39.4 percent rise in its turnover to 2.6 billion drachmas in the first six months of the year, from 1.9 billion in 1999. Profits totalled 316 million drachmas, up from 301 million last year.

    [05] Greece-EU-oil prices

    27/09/2000 16:55:16

    Greece, along with France and Spain, support the release of government strategic oil reserves by the European Union in an effort to pull down high oil prices, following a similar move by the United States last week, National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou told reporters in Prague.

    Papantoniou reiterated, however, that the impact from rising oil prices in the world and the Greek economy would be limited.

    "Even if current high oil prices were maintained in the next 12 months, the impact on the country's growth rate will be minimal and will only affect the inflation rate by less than one point," he said.

    Papantoniou said that the euro's current rate did not reflect eurozone's economic fundamentals. "We are determined (in European level) to approve a new round of intervention by the European Central Bank to support the currency," he said.

    The Greek minister said that a previous week's joint intervention in support of the euro had changed market sentiment and predicted that the US dollar could face problems in the medium-term due to a rising trade deficit in the US.

    [06] ASE-London visit

    27/09/2000 16:37:37

    A delegation of the Athens Stock Exchange, led by its chairman Panagiotis Alexakis, is visiting London to present the Greek market's activities and investment opportunities to a group of institutional investors in Britain.

    The trip is part of an international roadshow planned by ASE's board in major financial centres to attract foreign fund managers.

    The first presentation will take place at UBS Warburg offices in London on Friday. The event will be repeated next month at the same investment bank's offices in New York.

    ASE's delegation will meet with Societe Generale's board on Thursday in the UK capital.

    The roadshow, including presentations by Credit Suisse First Boston and Schroder-Salomon Brothers in London and New York, will be carried on in October and November and will be continued next year.

    [07] Heracles Cement-Halkis Cement-merger

    27/09/2000 16:27:25

    The boards of Heracles Cement and Halkis Cement on Wednesday approved a merger deal between the two groups.

    The deal envisages a stock swap transaction at a proposed ratio of 13.5 shares of Halkis Cement for one Heracles Cement share.

    The merger deal will be submitted to extraordinary general shareholders' meetings of the two companies for approval in the next few months.

    The deal ends a period of eight years, during which Halkis Cement's shares were suspended from trading on the Athens Stock Exchange due to the company's severe financial problems.

    The merged group will be the largest cement producer in Greece with an annual production more than 9 million tonnes and a market share of 53 percent. Total annual exports will exceed four million tonnes, easily the biggest cement exporter in the region.

    Synergies from the merger will improve profitability and services.

    The two companies noted that the merger deal would not lead to any production unit closures.

    "The merger represents one of a series of actions planned to enhance Heracles' position as one of the most significant industrials groups in Greece but also to preserving our international competitiveness," Jeremy Watts, chief executive at Heracles Cement and Halkis Cement said.

    [08] ASE-close

    27/09/2000 15:41:36

    Equity prices ended flat for the second consecutive session on the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday reflecting lack of directions and a shrinking liquidity in the market.

    Shares in the smaller capitalisation and construction sectors remained under pressure to end substantially lower while blue chip stocks in the banks sector attracted demand.

    The general index ended at 4,153.14 points, down 0.01 percent, after moving within a range of 4,204.13-4,112.75 points throughout the day. Turnover was a low 79 billion drachmas.

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks fell 0.07 percent to 2,350.74 points and the FTSE/ASE 40 index eased 0.29 percent.

    The parallel market index for smaller capitalisation stocks ended at 597.69 points, off 2.95 percent.


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