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Athens News Agency: News in English, 01-02-02
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 ANA-Almanac-Presentation-Thessaloniki02/02/2001 21:28:18
The Greek and International 2001 Almanac was presented in Thessaloniki on Friday, following its first ever issuance by the Athens News Agency in its 18-year history.
The Almanac edited by Costas E. Digaves, contains a brief but complete and objective account of all the year's developments, both in Greece and abroad.
This year's Almanac, apart from covering political, economic, military, space, science and sports news, also includes, a special supplement on the Greek and international economy and the first-ever English supplement on domestic news.
This new edition was presented by Costas Digaves, Athens News Agency (ANA) General Director Andreas Christodoulides and ANA Thessaloniki desk chief Sotiris Theologidis.
During the presentation it was announced that next year the Almanac will be available in electronic form, via the Internet and on CD-ROM.
Christodoulides stressed that the addition of the Almanac in the ANA databanks will be an especially great contribution as the existing databanks of the news agency are eight years old, while the databanks of the almanac are 18-years old.
?It is a very useful book that presents in an objective and codified way the annual traces of world history with its central focus being Greek events,? said Macedonia-Thrace Minister George Paschalidis during his address at the event.
The agreement for the ?Greek and International Almanacs? induction in the ANA was singed in January 2000 between General Director Andreas Christodoulides and publisher of the 18-year-old landmark publication Costas Digaves.
The 2001 edition of the Almanac was published by the ANA and included among other data, specialised reports based on the extensive ANA databank.
Digaves retained the copyright for the material published in the Almanac over the past 17 years, the agreement stated.
The agreement was the culmination of a cooperation between the Almanac and ANA that began a few years ago, as ANA prepared the Economic Development section of the factbook.
 USA-Angelopoulos-Film catalogue02/02/2001 21:00:53
NEW YORK (ANA M. Georgiadou) - World renowned movie director Theo Angelopoulos was included among the 36 best foreign independent directors in the Facets Video of Chicago.
The companys catalogue of films made by foreign directors includes Angelopoulos ?Travelling Players? and the ?Odysseus' Gaze?.
 Opel-Preventive Checks-Replacement02/02/2001 19:48:12
Carmaker Opel on Friday called on the owners of its Tigra and Corsa-B models to return the vehicles to distributors for preventive checks and reinforcement of the sliding mechanism under the front seats.
Opel expects some checks to reveal the need for replacement of buckles on the two front seat safety belts.
 Tourism-Spata Airport-Warning02/02/2001 19:36:09
The Association of Tourism and Travel Bureaus in Greece (HATTA) warned on Friday that what it called excessively high charges to be levied at the new Athens international airport at Spata would curb the growth of tourism to Greece.
In a letter to the ministers of transport and development and to the head of the Greek National Tourism Organisation, HATTA also cautioned that the lack of roads to the Eleftherios Venizelos airport and the absence of an official opening date for the facility also would hurt tourism.
Authorities have said that the airport will open sometime in March.
 Athens Bourse-Morgan Stanley-Denial02/02/2001 19:27:32
Authorities of the Athens Stock Exchange on Friday denied rumours on the market that Morgan Stanley (MSCI) was planning to delay its reclassification in May of the exchange to mature from emerging status.
The authorities said in a statement that the uncorroborated rumour was being circulated by stockbrokerages at home and abroad, and that it had found no evidence to support the talk.
Sentiment on the flagging bourse was being dampened still further by the rumour, the statement added.
 Athens Bourse-Index-New Categories02/02/2001 19:10:06
Companies listed on the Athens Stock Exchange will be classed under new categories from Monday, with an ensuing revision of the bourse's general index due to follow at the end of the month, bourse authorities said in a statement on Friday.
The revision of the firms entered in the index will aim to make the benchmark reflect market trends more accurately, the statement said.
The new system contains 11 umbrella categories and 49 sectors of operation. Of the total, 47 show line of business, one shows major changes in line of business, and one contains shares whose trade has been suspended, bourse authorities said.
The new categories are as follows:
 Unions - Solidarity - Turkish political prisoners02/02/2001 18:49:02
Greeces largest trade union umbrella groups on Friday the General Confederation of Workers of Greece and the Supreme Civil Servants Administrative Council -- expressed their solidarity towards Turkeys political prisoners, many of whom have continued a hunger strike over the past 80 days to protest Turkish authorities plans for new, tiny one-person cells.
Several human rights groups in Turkey and around the world have warned that the measure is designed to isolate and make political prisoners more vulnerable to abuse.
 ECB: Euro-Dollar-Drachma02/02/2001 18:20:08
The euro on Friday edged up against the US dollar to 94.07 cents, according to reference rates released by the European Central Bank (ECB).
The parity gives an implied rate of 362.23 drachmas versus the US currency, the ECB said in a routine statement.
Greece joined the euro zone on January 1.
 Foreign Exchange Rates-Monday02/02/2001 18:16:17
Monday's buying rates
U.S. dollar 359.327
German mark 172.829
French franc 051.531
Pound sterling 531.152
Irish punt 429.202
Belgian franc 008.379
Luxembourg franc 008.379
Dutch guilder 153.389
Italian lira (100) 017.457
Austrian schilling 024.565
Danish kroner 045.296
Swedish kroner 037.920
Finnish mark 056.852
Spanish peseta 002.032
Portuguese escudo 001.686
Japanese yen (100) 311.756
Swiss franc 219.824
Norwegian kroner 041.197
Cyprus pound 583.296
Canadian dollar 240.659
Australian dollar 199.315
 Weather Forecast-Saturday02/02/2001 17:17:11
Rain is forecast in most of Greece on Saturday, with storms at sea. Snow will fall on high ground, and on low ground in the centre and north. The west will see light cloud. The adverse weather will ease off by evening. Winds northerly, very strong to gale force. In the north, temperatures will range from -4C to 5C; on the rest of the mainland from -2C to 10C; and in the islands from 3C to 11C. Cloud and rain or sleet in Athens, with light snow in nearby mountains. Temperatures between 3C and 8C. Cloud and snow in Thessaloniki, clearing up early in the day. Temperatures from -1C to 5C.
 Bank of Greece-credit expansion02/02/2001 17:08:35
The Bank of Greece warned on Friday over the impact of equity loans on the stability of the banking sector and the country's monetary health, by announcing that loans offered to major shareholders to participate in share capital increase schemes increased by 900 billion drachmas in the first 11 months of 2000.
The central bank said this figure was even bigger but it could not be reflected in its official reports because such loans were offered by Greek banks' subsidiaries based in London.
Equity loans rose by 11.8 percent in 1999 from the previous year, by 16.6 percent in 1998 from 1997 and by a sharp 44 percent in the first 11 months in 2000.
The central bank said housing loans also rose in November, to a year-on-year increase of 30.7 percent from 26.9 percent in December 1999, while consumer loans jumped 36.9 percent in November 2000 from 31 percent in December 1999.
Credit growth rates are rapidly increasing since April 2000, when the Bank of Greece abolished measures to contain credit expansion in the country, the report said.
The central bank said that a slide in the drachma's rate against the US dollar and the Japanese yen also weighted in the loans' growth rate burden on the economy.
Credit expansion grew 17.3 percent in November, slightly slower from a 18.9 percent in October. Excluding a foreign exchange impact, credit expansion in the private sector grew 21.9 percent in November, and total credit expansion grew 16.2 percent.
 Commercial Bank-Credit Agricole-deal02/02/2001 16:44:30
French bank Credit Agricole seeks to raise its 6.7 percent equity stake in Commercial Bank, press reports said on Friday.
According to the reports, Commercial Bank's executives said the French bank was in talks with the Public Securities Corporation to purchase a 2.0 percent equity stake in the Greek bank.
Credit Agricole's board has recently expressed interest to increase its stake in Commercial Bank to more than 15 percent.
A strategic alliance agreement signed between the two banks envisages that Greece's Post Savings Bank and Deposits and Loans Fund would have to address the French bank if they were to sell their 12.0 percent equity holding in Commercial Bank.
 US - Greek writers honoured02/02/2001 16:39:54
The works of award-winning Greek writers Ioanna Karystiani, Ersi Sotiropoulou and Christos Homenides will be among those featured at a literary evening organised by the Hellenic Institute of Culture in New York next Thursday.
After an introduction by New York University professor John Tsiolis, extracts from their works will be read by Jane Asimakopoulou, who rendered them into English, followed by an open discussion with the audience.
The following day, the three authors will be presented at JFK School of Government Harvard, with an introduction by Dinos Siotis, the head of the Boston Greek Consulate's press office.
Karystiani and Sotiropoulou have both received Greek literature awards, one in 1999 and the other in 2000, while Homenides' works "The wise child" and "Rising to the occasion" have received high critical acclaim and been published in French by Seuil Editions.
 Greece-car market02/02/2001 16:35:27
The Greek car market is heading for another record year in 2001 with January car registration figures sharply up from the previous month, according to figures released by the Association of Car Importers-Dealers on Friday.
Sales in passenger car and taxis soared 106 percent in January from the previous month, although they were 3.6 percent lower compared with the same month last year, to a total of 29,440 vehicles.
Toyota ranked first in January sales with 3,261 vehicles and a 11 percent market share, followed by Opel with 3,154 vehicles and a 10.7 percent share.
Hyundai, the top seller in 2000, fell to the third place with 2,740 vehicles and a 9.3 percent market share, followed by Volkswage (2,634), Fiat (2,096), Peugeot (1,912), Citroen (1,910), Seat (1,651), Nissan (1,491) and Renault (1,025).
The association said that 2000 was a record year for the Greek car market, with 290,225 new registrations, from 261.538 in 1999, an increase of 11 percent. The year 1999, however, recorded the biggest annual percentage increase in car registrations (45 percent).
 Info-Quest-results02/02/2001 16:24:20
Info-Quest, a listed software group, on Friday reported hefty results for the year 2000 with sales totalling 83 billion drachmas and profits reaching 10 billion drachmas, up 33 percent and 20 percent from 1999, respectively.
Quest group consolidated turnover exceeded 170 billion drachmas last year, up 50 percent from 1999, profits rose 30 percent to 22 billion drachmas, while consolidated profits after minority rights are expected to exceed 12 billion drachmas.
The Group is focusing in integrated information projects, telecommunication infrastructure and services, telecommunication and software product and e-business.
The company evaluates its investment and holdings value at 110 billion drachmas.
 PM - India visit02/02/2001 16:12:17
Prime Minister Costas Simitis is to carry out a six-day official visit to India beginning on Sunday, government spokesman Tilemachos Hytiris said on Friday.
Simitis, who is due back in Athens on February 9, will be accompanied by Development Minister Nikos Christodoulakis, Press and Media Minister Dimitris Reppas, Alternate Foreign Minister Elisavet Papazoi and Deputy Defence Minister Dimitris Apostolakis.
 ASE-close02/02/2001 16:01:05
Equity prices ended the last trading session of the week sharply lower on the Athens Stock Exchange, hit by strong selling pressure and lack of demand.
Traders said foreign institutional investors, active in emerging markets, sold Greek blue chips pushing the wider market sharply lower.
Analysts said the market would find short-term support at the 3,150-point level.
The general index ended ended 2.80 percent lower at 3,156.98 points, off the day's lows of 3,144.26 points, with turnover a low 105.633 million euros, or 35.99 billion drachmas.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks ended 2.84 percent lower at 1,840.12 points, and the FTSE/ASE 40 index dropped 3.35 percent to 328.52 points.
The parallel market index for smaller capitaliation stocks plunged 6.51 percent to 249.38 points.
 Public Power Corporation-flotation02/02/2001 15:49:29
Public Power Corporation, Greece's electricity utility, will be floated in the stock market by the end of the first half this year, Development Minister Nikos Christodoulakis said on Friday.
Speaking to reporters after a meeting with National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou, Christodoulakis said that Public Power Corporation (PPC) would begin roadshows to institutional investors by the end of March.
The government plans to float a small stake in PPC. A final decision has yet to be made.
 Helios SA-results02/02/2001 15:16:18
Helios SA, owners of luxury resort hotels Elounda Beach and Elounda Bay Palace in Crete, on Friday reported that its EBITDA (pre-tax, interest and amortisation earnings) rose 54 percent to 5.5 billion drachmas last year, from 3.6 billion in 1999.
Consolidated pre-tax, interest and amortisation earnings exceeded seven billion drachmas, from five billion in 1999, an increase of 40 percent. The company's turnover totalled 9.7 billion drachmas in 2000, up from 7.6 billion the previous year, while consolidated turnover exceeded 13 billion drachmas from 10.8 billion, respectively.
Helios SA is a member of Mantonanakis Group. The group is currently implementing an investment programme including the upgrading of all Helios hotels, the renovation of Grand Resort Lagonisi and the three Xenia hotels in Nafplio.
Helios SA has recently postponed an initial public offering and listing of its share in the Athens Stock Exchange. The company said this decision was a strategic choice and that its listing would be completed "under the appropriate market conditions".
 Greece-ICAP-cosmetics report02/02/2001 14:51:39
Greece's cosmetics market grew an annual average 15.5 percent in the period 1991-2000 to become one of the most healthy sectors of the economy, an ICAP survey showed on Friday.
The survey said the sector's long-term prospects were particularly favourable based on the fact that domestic per capita consumption of cosmetics was lower compared with the other EU member-states.
The survey, however, predicts that the total domestic cosmetics market would grow an annual average 7-8 percent (in wholesale prices) in the period 2001-2002.
The Greek market is controlled by a small number of companies, many of which were foreign multinationals' subsidiaries.
Three groups accounted for a 25 percent share in the domestic market of cosmetics, while another six companies accounted for a 40 percent market share with annual sales exceeding seven billion drachmas in 1999.
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