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Athens News Agency: News in English, 09-03-10

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] New hiring plans down in Q2, Manpower survey
  • [02] Figaro extols Bakoyannis's 'European future'
  • [03] Babis Vovos cites debt restructuring plan, to sell properties
  • [04] HelioSphera signs supply contract with Italy's Tecno Spot
  • [05] Commission OKs OA deal
  • [06] Restoration of Thessaloniki's walls

  • [01] New hiring plans down in Q2, Manpower survey

    Greek employers expect a further slowdown of hirings in the second quarter of 2009, a Manpower agency quarterly survey over employment prospects said on Tuesday.

    Although the Greek labour market is expected to show a decline compared with the first quarter of the year, the percentage of employers planning to make new hirings was equal to those who intend to cut their staff, with the employment outlook for the country set at zero in the April-June period. Manpower's survey was based on interviews with a sample of 750 Greek employers.

    According to the survey, 15 pct of Greek employers plan new hirings in the second quarter, another 15 pct plan lay-offs while 64 pct expect there will be change in their staff. Compared with the previous quarter, the hirings growth is down by three percentage points, while compared with the same period last year, the employment prospects index is down 23 percentage points.

    The tourism sector showed improved employment prospects ahead of the start of the tourist season this year, although plans for new hirings were down four percentage points compared with the same quarter in 2008. The construction and manufacturing sectors recorded the biggest percentage declines (-10 pct and -9.0 pct respectively).

    Based on regions, employers in the Attica region (greater Athens) were cautiously optimistic over new hiring plans, while employers in northern Greece were more pessimistic.

    [02] Figaro extols Bakoyannis's 'European future'

    PARIS (ANA-MPA - O. Tsipira) In an article in its centre-spread on Tuesday, dedicated to Greece's Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis and her proclamation as associate foreign member of the 'Coupole' (as the Academie des Sciences Morales et Politiques is known in France), the French newspaper 'Le Figaro' described the Greek minister as "an elegant lady destined for a European future". The article also appeared on the newspaper's website, in the geopolitical blogs section written by Figaro journalist Pierre Rousselin.

    "Among the European women with the greatest influence is also Dora Bakoyannis, for what she has been as mayor of Athens, for what she is as foreign minister and for what she will become," the author wrote.

    In this context, the journalist also referred to a proposal made by France's former minister of state for European affairs Jean-Pierre Jouyet, who in a recent book proposed Bakoyannis to take over the European Union presidency once the Lisbon Treaty is ratified.

    According to Jouyet, the Greek minister was "the only woman to have a real hope" of taking the position, enjoyed the respect of all European leaders and had a good relationship with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

    The author of the article, on his part, suggested that after the appointment of Hillary Clinton to head up U.S. diplomacy, "it is perhaps time to entrust the presidency of the EU or European diplomacy to a woman".

    Asked her opinion on this idea, Bakoyannis responded that it was a great honour but stressed that "the most important thing at this time, is for the referendum in Ireland to be able to establish the European leadership that is desired by all and whose usefulness had been proven during the French presidency."

    Replying to a question about the economic state of Greece, which the journalist described as "the sick child" of Europe with a very high debt, Bakoyannis was reassuring.

    The minister pointed out that the Greek economy was expected to continue growing at a slow rate of between 0.5 percent and 1 percent and that its banking system, although having a high exposure to the Balkans, was not affected by toxic products.

    [03] Babis Vovos cites debt restructuring plan, to sell properties

    The Babis Vovos company on Tuesday announced measures to revise its capital structure with an aim to strengthen its cash flow and improve its operations ahead of a forthcoming Council of State (Cos) decision over a massive construction project in the central Athens district of Votanikos.

    The company said it would cut its short-term debt (totaling 201 million euros) as much as possible -- of which 125 million euros referred to the controversial Votanikos project -- through the immediate sale of its tourism properties, while it would also negotiate the transformation of its debt into long-term debt.

    Babis Vovos expects to raise 40 million euros from the sale of a project on the Saronic Gulf island of Poros and another 15 million euros from the sale of a project in Cape Sounion.

    The company is currently in talks with creditor banks to restructuring its debt.

    [04] HelioSphera signs supply contract with Italy's Tecno Spot

    HelioSphera on Tuesday announced the signing of a long-term contract with Italy‚s Tecno Spot for the supply of micromorph Thin-Film technology panels with a capacity of at least 9 MW for the period 2009-2010.

    HelioSphera‚s production unit in the town of Tripolis, in the central Peloponnese, will be ready to begin production and distribution of technology panels by summer 2009, according to a press release.

    The company said the contract was a significant step towards its strategic entry in the southeast European markets.

    HelioSphera (formerly known as Next Solar) is a Greek company founded in 2007. Its main shareholders are private equity funds based in the United States. The company has three main facilities: its headquarters in Athens, its production unit in Tripolis and a representation (coordinating sales) in Madrid.

    [05] Commission OKs OA deal

    STRASBOURG (ANA-MPA) -- The European Commission on Tuesday gave its "green light" for the completion of a privatisation procedure for Greek national carrier Olympic Airlines (OA). The decision was announced by the EU executive's vice-chairman, Transport Commissioner Antonio Tajani.

    The Karamanlis government announced the successful conclusion of negotiations with Athens-based Marfin Investment Group (MIG) over the weekend for OA's sale. Under the deal, clinched late last Friday, the state is set to receive 177.2 million euros for all OA assets and operations.

    The government announced that MIG and Swissport, which had only bid for ground handling services, had a week to conclude their negotiations for the latter but that if these fell through, MIG promised to buy the ground handling services itself for 44.8 million euros, as set by independent evaluators.

    Following the Commission's official seal of approval, the agreement will be sent to the ministerial privatisations committee for evaluation.

    [06] Restoration of Thessaloniki's walls

    The municipality of Thessaloniki on Tuesday announced that it will soon restart a restoration and excavation programme aimed at further uncovering and showcasing the ancient metropolis' medieval walls.

    According to municipal officials, a further 20 old buildings and structures along Eptapyrgiou street -- all erected in the 20th century -- will be demolished.

    "Another 10 buildings were listed, the rest we can demolish and create a green space, next to the Byzantine walls," Thessaloniki Mayor Vassilis Papageorgopoulos said.

    The city, Greece's second largest, was founded in the fourth century BC by King Cassander of Macedon on or near the site of the ancient settlement of Therma in honor of his wife, Thessalonike, a half-sister of Alexander the Great. The name, in Greek, means "victory over the Thessalians".

    Caption: An ANA-MPA file photo of Thessaloniki's White Tower, the city's landmark monument on its waterfront.

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