|Sunday, 25 February 2018|
Athens News Agency: News in English, 09-03-04
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Eurobank reports 20% drop in '08 net profitsEurobank Group on Wednesday reported a 20-pct fall in its net profits to 652 million euros in 2008, down from 836 million euros in the previous year, adding that activities in its "New Europe" sector contributed 137 million euros to group profits.
The bank said saving deposits grew 26.3 pct to 45.7 billion euros, while loans grew 22.4 pct to 57.1 million euros.
Commenting on the results, Nikolaos Nanopoulos, the bank's chief executive, said the group maintained a strong capital base - with a capital adequacy rate of 12.4 pct -- and increased cash flow despite a difficult economic juncture.
The Greek banker stressed that the bank was creating an inventory of additional provisions for any future risks, totaling 240 million euros, a move further strengthening its balance sheet. "Our priority remains boosting organic pre-provisions earnings, stricter control of risks, further improving portfolio quality and cutting operating costs at all levels," Nanopoulos said, adding that Eurobank EFG was supporting Greek businesses and households throughout this very demanding juncture by showing both understanding and flexibility, promoting relations based on trust.
Eurobank said it would skip a dividend payment in cash this year.
 Greek, Bosnia DMs confer in AthensIssues concerning security in the Balkans, the wider region of SE Europe, the Middle East and Caucasus as well as bilateral cooperation <font size="3" face="Times New Roman">were discussed during a<font size="3" face="Times New Roman Greek"> meeting <font size="3" face="Times New Roman">between the defence ministers<font size="3" face="Times New Roman Greek"> of Greece and Bosnia and Herzegovina, Evangelos Meimarakis and Selmo Cikotic<font size="3" face="Times New Roman">, respectively, in Athens on Wednesday. Meimarakis commented afterwards that the security situation in the Caucasus and the Middle East<font size="3" face="Times New Roman">, combined with the global economic crisis create<font size="3" face="Times New Roman">, conditions of instability in the wider region, while the <font size="3" face="Times New Roman">western Balkans <font size="3" face="Times New Roman">need<font size="3" face="Times New Roman Greek"> constant vigilance and attention. He reiterated Greece's support to the efforts made by Bosnia<font size="3" face="Times New Roman">-Herzegovina for membership in Euro-Atlantic institutions, pointing out that "such a prospect will contribute to the consolidation of security and stability in the wider region". Referring to Kosovo, Meimarakis reiterated that Greece is in favor of a balanced solution that will guarantee stability in SE Europe. On his part, Cikotic commented that recognition of a country's independence is a bilateral issue. As regards the stance of Bosnia and Herzegovina he observed that based on its Constitution<font size="3" face="Times New Roman"> it is interested in the existence of consensus between ethnic minorities living on its territory and<font size="3" face="Times New Roman">, therefore, wishes to have good relations with the Serbs who constitute part of the country. Cikotic expressed gratitude to Greece for its unreserved support and substantive assistance to his country's efforts for reconstruction. He also stated that the two countries share the same positions on most international issues and concluded that <font size="3" face="Times New Roman">Athens<font size="3" face="Times New Roman Greek"> can contribute to the consolidation of peace, security and stability in the region. On the FYROM <font size="3" face="Times New Roman">"<font size="3" face="Times New Roman Greek">name issue<font size="3" face="Times New Roman">"<font size="3" face="Times New Roman Greek">, Meimarakis reiterated that Greece firmly supports a mutually acceptable solution and urged the political leadership of the neighboring country to avoid extreme positions and practices.
 Greek economic sentiment index in record lows in FebruaryGreece's economic sentiment index fell significantly in February, remaining on a declining trend of the 12th consecutive month in line with a negative trend prevailing in most European countries, the Institute for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) said on Wednesday.
IOBE, in a monthly report, said the economic sentiment index dropped to 47.2 points in February from 55.4 in January, a new all-time low, with another 18 EU member-states -including UK, Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, Austria, Portugal and Cyprus, recording all time lows in the month. The report recorded worsening conditions in all sectors of the economy with the exception of the services sector, with manufacturing and retail sectors hit harder while the construction sector suffered more mildly.
Consumer confidence fell afresh in the country, after a slight recovery in January, reflecting worsening predictions of Greek consumers over the country's economic condition and their households' financial situation. Expectations on unemployment hit record lows in February.
 Credit expansion to enterprises satisfactory, reportCredit expansion to enterprises remained at satisfactory levels, fully reflecting banks' efforts to satisfy - as much as possible -- Greek enterprises' funding needs despite difficulties prevailing in money and capital markets, a report by Alpha Bank stated on Wednesday.
The bank's analysts said credit expansion to main business sectors was satisfactory, with a growth rate of 16.4 pct to the manufacturing sector despite a 4.2 pct decline in industrial production, a 19.5 pct growth rate to the agriculture sector, 20.1 pct to tourism, 20.8 pct to commerce and 33.7 pct to the construction sector.
Alpha Bank's report said Greek enterprises' loan debt totaled 54.1 pct of the country's GDP, down from a 60.1 pct reading in the Eurozone, while enterprises' and households' debt accounted for 101.9 pct of GDP in January, up from 94.4 pct in December 2008 and 119.2 pct in the Eurozone.
 Greece 24th in int'l tourism indexGreece ranked 24th amongst 133 countries in the global Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index of the World Economic Forum, the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises (SETE) announced on Wednesday.
SETE said Greece fell two places in 2009, from the previous year, while it ranked 18th in Europe. The Association attributed the decline in Greece's ranking to a rise in the rankings of Cyprus and Belgium, while it noted that other competitor countries maintained their rankings (Spain was sixth), Portugal (17th), Croatia (34th), Turkey (56th) and Egypt (64th).
Greece's advantages were the country's cultural sites and heritage, high-quality healthcare services, tourism infrastructure, while a major disadvantage was a lack of proper regulatory framework to support the tourism sector.
Switzerland, Austria, Germany, France and Canada topped the list of this year's Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index.
 2 more bids submitted for OAAegean Airlines - a Greek-listed airline -- and Chrysler Aviation on Wednesday formally submitted separate bids for the purchase of state-run Olympic Airlines, offering 170 million euros and 210 million euros, respectively.
Aegean Airlines said its aim was the creation of robust Greece-based carrier with the necessary critical size to compete in global competition within the framework of a single European area.
A company statement read: "In case our bid is accepted by the Greek state, we intend to ease part of our domestic activities to further boost existing competition in the Greek air traffic market, while servicing remote lines remains an obligation".
Aegean also pledged to complete the transaction in no more than 60 days after signing a final agreement with the Greek state, saying this will save hundreds of million of euros in operating losses burdening the Greek state.
Chrylser Aviation said its bid covers the Olympic Airways group (Pantheon Airways, ground handling and the technical & maintenance base) while it also plans to submit an offer for the purchase of Olympic Group's remaining assets. Chrysler Aviation said it would recommend that the Greek state hold a 25-pct stake in Olympic Airlines.
Commenting on the two offers, Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis said it was positive the fact that there were more offers for the national carrier, stating: "the government will continue talks with MIG and Swissport until the end of the week, respecting the exclusive nature of negotiations, while we will also examine other offers based on specific principles: existing legislation, national and community rules on competition, real date of the offers and the recommendations of a commissioner monitoring the sale procedure".
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