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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 99-06-16

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] PASOK gov't optimistic over prospects of victory in 2000 elections
  • [02] First part of Greek brigade arrives in southern Kosovo
  • [03] Stephanopoulos leaves for Romania today
  • [04] Kranidiotis on G8 statement regarding Cyprus
  • [05] Increased allowance for vineyard cultivations in Greece
  • [06] European Business Congress in Athens
  • [07] Greek intervention for release of 2 Australians by Belgrade
  • [08] Research programme to ID dolphins, whales in Greek waters
  • [09] Authorities probe link between banker's suicide to brokerage firm scandal
  • [10] AEK Athens announces record-breaking football trade
  • [11] State telecom plans buyouts abroad
  • [12] Stocks slip below 4,000 points in profit-taking
  • [13] Bonds end flat in negligible trade
  • [14] Merrill Lynch says EFG Ergobank offer unattractive
  • [15] Three-month treasury bill yield rises in auction
  • [16] Piraeus Investment shows profit rise
  • [17] Investment firms show rise in market value in May
  • [18] Athens Foreign Exchange

  • [01] PASOK gov't optimistic over prospects of victory in 2000 elections

    Athens, 16/06/1999 (ANA)

    The government noted yesterday that it was not disappointed by Sunday's European Parliament election results, saying it continued to believe the ruling PASOK party will win next year's national elections.

    Speaking after a meeting of the inner cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Costas Simitis, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said no member of the inner cabinet had voiced disagreement with the government's basic policy choices.

    "We confirmed the evaluation of the prime minister on the night of the elections, that the result was positive for PASOK even if it did not achieve its leading goal of coming out on top," he said.

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) polled 35.99 per cent of the vote, while ruling PASOK garnered 32.86 per cent. Each party will have nine seats in the new European Parliament.

    Mr. Reppas said the inner cabinet based its confidence on PASOK's re- election next year on the belief that ND's 3 per cent lead was not supported by such a swing away from the ruling party that it would force it from office.

    "It's not about a New Democracy victory but about PASOK losing votes," Mr. Reppas said.

    He said those members of the party who had expressed criticism of the government nevertheless continued to "have an open line" to the party and had not proposed any alternative strategy.

    Mr. Reppas attributed the ruling party's showing at European Parliament elections to the specific nature of the poll, and to the large number of Greeks who decided not to vote.

    He also said that overwhelming popular sentiment against NATO's bombing of Yugoslavia had also had an impact.

    Assumptions that inclusion in Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) was a certainty, he added, had led to voters not giving the goal the necessary care and weight.

    "It looks like we will just meet the criteria for inclusion in EMU and, consequently, it should not be considered a givenIbut requires continuing efforts to ensure our country's entry into EMU," he said.

    The government spokesman also said the issue of a reshuffle was not raised during the meeting. However, according to reports, the issue was raised by Mr. Simitis himself, not to stress the need for a change in government but to forestall any discussion on the issue.

    Mr. Simitis said, in essence, that talk of a reshuffle harms the government, thereby precluding anyone from raising the reshuffle issue, reports stated.

    According to reports, National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said in his address that the result of the Euroelections was marginal for PASOK, adding that there should be a turn in government policy in order to come closer to the citizen.

    Interior Minister Vasso Papandreou placed emphasis on the issue of PASOK's organisation, saying it also appeared during the pre-election period that the dissolution and re-establishment of the party's organisation is necessary.

    Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister Costas Laliotis appeared to endorse these views and, using a current military term, said "there are no 'ground forces' to back whichever government policy."

    Development Minister Evangelos Venizelos spoke of partitioning between a "society of security" and a "society of insecurity".

    PASOK reorganisation : Along these lines, Mr. Simitis later announced a full reorganisation of the ruling party, during a break of a PASOK executive bureau meeting.

    He said the process would begin with the central committee session on July 9 and 10 and would be completed by the end of the year.

    Mr. Simitis stressed that the government will maintain the same policies on the major issues of development, meeting criteria for EMU entry and other national matters.

    Finally, he expressed the view that PASOK had put up a valiant election fight under "adverse conditions."

    Athens News Agency

    [02] First part of Greek brigade arrives in southern Kosovo

    Athens, 16/06/1999 (ANA)

    The first detachment of a Greek brigade slated to serve in Kosovo arrived in the Urocevac district of southern Kosovo yesterday afternoon with another 440 men of the 501th mechanised batallion expected there tonight, the defence ministry said yesterday.

    The area of deployment is described as a flatland, with roughly 35,000 people residing in the general vicinity. The area also features a number of road and rail intersections, and has not been affected by the NATO bombings of the Yugoslav province.

    The Greek brigade, which will comprise 1,200 men and have its own area of responsibility, will come under the KFOR command.

    The defence ministry is also considering the prospect of increasing the force by 300 men.

    During a press conference, National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos described the area as "hostile", with specific dangers emanating from mine fields and snipers, although he said past peacekeeping experience by several members of the brigade shou ld guarantee success in their task.

    Armed forces chief of staff Gen. Manousos Paragioudakis said the troops had been issued with 32 engagement rules, while all were equipped with bullet- proof vests.

    On his part, Defence Deputy Minister Dimitris Apostolakis said the Greek force would not take part in the unlikely event that military operations were generalised, while new decisions would have to be made regarding its further activity.

    The batallion will include six helicopters, 40 armoured personnel carriers and six armoured vehicles.

    Athens News Agency

    [03] Stephanopoulos leaves for Romania today

    Athens, 16/06/1999 (ANA)

    President Kostis Stephanopoulos will begin a three-day official visit to Romania this morning for talks with his Romanian counterpart Emil Constantinescu and other leading political officials of that country.

    Mr. Stephanopoulos will also meet with the presidium of the Union of Greeks in Romania, representatives of political refugees, the Greek students' union and Greece-based entrepreneurs active in the Balkan country. Moreover, he will inaugurate an art exh ibition at the National Art Museum in Bucharest, set to display paintings by Greek artists.

    Athens News Agency

    [04] Kranidiotis on G8 statement regarding Cyprus

    Athens, 16/06/1999 (ANA)

    Alternate Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis said a statement by the G8 foreign ministers regarding Cyprus, calling on both sides to resume dialogue based on UN Security Council resolutions and to avoid heightened tension on the island, is a "conditionally positive" development.

    "The statement by the G8 foreign ministers constitutes a positive development and offers a new opportunity, provided the Turkish side will also respond positively, for a resumption of intercommunal dialogue under the general secretary and in the framework of the UN.

    "The fact that the G8 session preoccupied itself with the Cyprus issue underlines that it is an exclusive international political problem for which the international community has responsibility," he said.

    Mr. Kranidiotis said a fortunate end to this process, combined with the European prospects of Cyprus, will allow all the people of Cyprus to "enjoy the fruits of an encouraging European future."

    He also said he looked forward to ratification of the decision taken by the FMs, and other leaders during the upcoming G8 summit.

    Athens News Agency

    [05] Increased allowance for vineyard cultivations in Greece

    BRUSSELS, 16/06/1999 (ANA- P. Pantelis)

    The European Union council of farm ministers yesterday discussed the widespread use of medicines and hormones in the Union's stockbreeding sector and an increased allowance for Greek vineyard cultivations.

    The ministers reached a political agreement, to be approved later, which will set standards and regulations for stockbreeding, controlling the use of animal pharmaceuticals and hormones as well as regulating the quality of products and the way livestock is bred.

    Greece was given an increased quota for the planting of new vineyards, while it retained the right to allocate to wine producers quotas for grape production even after the EU deadline for allocation.

    Agriculture Minister George Anomeritis represented Greece.

    Athens News Agency

    [06] European Business Congress in Athens

    Athens, 16/06/1999 (ANA)

    The European Business Congress (EBC) held its general assembly in Athens yesterday, focusing on the strengthening of economic and business relations between the European Union and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

    EBC was created in 1997 at the initiative of Russian natural gas giant Gazprom and other business groups.

    Prometheus Gas President Dimitris Kopelouzos and Development Minister Evangelos Venizelos addressed the assembly.

    Gazprom officials noted that the company exports 200 billion cubic metres of natural gas per annum and expect an increase in sales outside Russia to 275 billion cubic metres by 2005.

    Athens News Agency

    [07] Greek intervention for release of 2 Australians by Belgrade

    MELBOURNE, 16/06/1999 (ANA - S. Hatzimanolis)

    Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer yesterday said hopes for the release of two Australians jailed in Yugoslavia were raised after an intervention by Greek FM George Papandreou.

    Mr. Downer said that during talks with Yugoslav government officials in Belgrade last Saturday, Mr. Papandreou referred to the release of Steve Pratt and Peter Wallace, Care Australia humanitarian organisation members. Both were charged and convicted of espionage.

    Athens News Agency

    [08] Research programme to ID dolphins, whales in Greek waters

    Athens, 16/06/1999 (ANA)

    Delphis, the Greek society for the study and protection of dolphins and whales yesterday announced a research programme for the identification of such marine mammals in Greek and Cypriot seas.

    The programme will be staffed with volunteers and run between June 30 and Oct. 20.

    To date, the effort has been supported by Cyprus' agriculture ministry, the European Union's "NATURA 2000" programme and donations from several private firms and foundations.

    Athens News Agency

    [09] Authorities probe link between banker's suicide to brokerage firm scandal

    Athens, 16/06/1999 (ANA)

    Police yesterday were examining whether the suicide of a man in Thessaloniki is linked to an ongoing investigation into financial irregularities by a former employee of a local brokerage.

    According to reports, the 50-year-old director of an Alpha Credit Bank branch was found dead at his home yesterday, apparently after ingesting pesticide.

    Police, who have not released the man's full name, are looking into reports that he was linked to the central figure being investigated at Alki Securities, Leonidas Tezapsidis.

    The chairman of the Athens Stock Exchange, Spyros Kouniakis, said last week that Alki Securities was in the clear regarding settlement with the bourse.

    Mr. Tezapsidis has reportedly admitted to embezzling some 500 million drachmas from the firm and to fraud against a local businessman for 200 million drachmas. He claimed that he needed this money to cover economic shortfalls, without providing further details.

    According to reports, he also requested protective custody.

    His lawyer told reporters that a list of the names of those who had dealings with his client would soon be released.

    According to unconfirmed reports, the man who killed himself yesterday was on a list of names given to investigators by Mr. Tezapsidis and had been summoned to testify on his financial dealings.

    Athens News Agency

    [10] AEK Athens announces record-breaking football trade

    Athens, 16/06/1999 (ANA)

    AEK Athens has reportedly completed the most expensive trade ever in Greece's first division football league, signing Barcelona's Dragan Ciric for a total of 1.7 billion drachmas.

    The 25-year-old Serbian striker/mid-fielder stands to earn about 900 million drachmas over either a four-, or five-year contract, while Barcelona will take 800 million.

    Final details are expected to be divulged today by club officials in Athens.

    If AEK, in the Champions' League play-offs this August, sells the player within the next two years to an English, French or Italian team, the proceeds will be split with Barcelona.

    Athens News Agency

    [11] State telecom plans buyouts abroad

    Athens, 16/06/1999 (ANA)

    Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) aims to be included among the five biggest telecommunications groups in Europe through the implementation of a modernisation programme and aggressive acquisitions policy in neighbouring countries.

    OTE's chief executive officer, George Symeonidis, also told the firm's annual general shareholders' meeting yesterday that 1998 turnover increased by 15.9 percent to 939.5 billion drachmas, while pre-tax profits totalled 278.7 billion compared with 300 billion in 1997.

    Net pre-tax profits after minority rights totalled 285.3 billion drachmas, down from 301 billion in the previous year.

    OTE's investment programme was implemented, resulting in rapid progress in a digitalisation programme, now covering 74.5 percent of the network from 47 percent in late 1997, and exceeding initial targets.

    Under the programme a total of 1.5 million digital lines were installed in 1998. Investments in fixed assets totalled 460 billion drachmas in 1998, up from 226 billion the previous year.

    Lines per employee, a productivity gauge, rose to 252 last year, up from 239 in 1997, while turnover per employee rose to 42 million drachmas from 35 million a year earlier.

    Card-phones exceeded 52,000 last year, up from 38,000 in 1997. Cosmote, OTE's mobile operator, reported 425,000 subscribers at the end of March while its network coverage of the population rose to 90 percent.

    Mr. Symeonidis said the organisation was designing its new structure and operation, and planned to participate in strategically important international alliances and investments, and plan new products and services.

    Transport and Communications Minister Tassos Mandelis, addressing the shareholders' meeting, expressed his confidence that OTE would be fully competitive, both in fixed and mobile networks, by December 31, 2000 when the Greek telecommunications market w ould be fully liberalised.

    Mr. Mandelis said OTE ranked 314 in a global list of international companies, the best performance by a Greek company.

    OTE's shareholders approved a dividend payout of 100 billion drachmas, or 200 drachmas per share, and a repurchase of 10 percent of the firm's equity at a maximum price of 9,000 drachmas per share.

    Mr. Symeonidis said OTE's board had decided to support the firm's share price on the Athens Stock Exchange, which according to institutional sources, was undervalued.

    OTE, following its listing on the New York Stock Exchange, is to proceed to a fourth flotation in the fall, offering a 14 percent stake of its equity.

    The Greek state will retain control of the company, holding a majority share of 51 percent following the new sale.

    An international roadshow and a book building process will last from June 21 to July 9, followed by a public offering to Greek investors on July 7- 9.

    Mr. Symeonidis said OTE's strategic targets included: preserving its leading role in offering services in a competitive domestic telecommunications market, playing a leading role in the telecommunications market in southeast Europe and the Middle East, and establishing a strong presence in the European market.

    Referring to OTE's investment in Serbian Telecommunications Organisation with a 20 percent stake, Mr. Symeonidis said management was in contact with Greece's foreign affairs and national economy ministries, the Serbian government and its OTE's partner, Telecom Italia (holder of a 29 percent share in the Serbian firm), to evaluate damage from the Yugoslav war.

    He confirmed OTE's interest in acquiring a majority stake in the Bulgarian Telecommunications Organisation, BTK, through a joint offer with KPN of the Netherlands.

    Athens News Agency

    [12] Stocks slip below 4,000 points in profit-taking

    Athens, 16/06/1999 (ANA)

    Equity prices continued moving lower yesterday, breaking the 4,000-point support level. The market was hit by profit taking in selected industrial blue chips and news of an increase in state treasury bill yields.

    The general index ended 0.66 percent lower at 3,994.04 points, reversing an early strong rally which brought the index briefly 0.87 percent higher.

    It was the first time the index ended below 4,000 points in the last 10 sessions.

    Turnover was 160.763 billion drachmas with 29,671,666 shares changing hands.

    Smaller capitalisation stocks outperformed the market with the parallel market index ending a spectacular 5.95 percent higher.

    Other sector indices ended as follows: Banks (-1.26 pct), Leasing (+1.17 pct), Insurance (-0.59 pct), Investment (-0.01 pct), Construction (+2.92 pct), Industrials (-0.26 pct), Miscellaneous (+1.06 pct) and Holding (+1.43 pct).

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for heavily traded stocks and blue chips fell 1.20 percent to 2,361.17 points.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 225 to 64 with another 11 issues unchanged.

    Thessaliki, Hellenic Sugar, Intersat and Macedonian Textiles were the most heavily traded stocks.

    A total of 61 shares ended at the day's 8.0 percent limit up.

    National Bank of Greece ended at 21,000 drachmas, Alpha Credit Bank at 20, 800, Ergobank at 30,190, Ionian Bank at 16,200, Titan Cement at 28,650, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,840, Intracom at 20,495, Minoan Lines at 5,100, Panafon at 7,805 and Hellenic Telecoms at 7,055.

    Athens News Agency

    [13] Bonds end flat in negligible trade

    Athens, 16/06/1999 (ANA)

    Bond prices in the secondary market were mostly flat in minimal turnover.

    Both domestic and foreign institutional investors were conspicuously absent from the market.

    Electronic trade totalled 9.0 billion drachmas from 6.0 billion drachmas in the previous session and 45 billion drachmas on Friday.

    The ten-year bond showed a yield of 5.97 percent, taking the spread over German bunds to 168 basis points.

    In the foreign currency market, the euro ended flat against the drachma.

    At the central bank's daily fix, the euro was set at 323.950 drachmas, the same as the previous session.

    Deutsche Bank backs long-term Greek paper : Deutsche Bank said yesterday that Greek long-term state securities were an attractive option for investors as the country moves towards economic alignment with the rest of the European union, according to a Reuters news report.

    In a weekly market survey, Deutsche Bank was quoted as saying that investors should remain in Greek paper next month.

    Any negative impact from Euro-elections would be temporary and a peace deal in Yugoslavia favoured Greek bonds.

    Athens News Agency

    [14] Merrill Lynch says EFG Ergobank offer unattractive

    Athens, 16/06/1999 (ANA)

    Merrill Lynch said yesterday that an offer by Consolidated Eurofinance Holdings to shareholders of Ergobank in a takeover bid was unattractive, according to Reuters news agency.

    The investment house was quoted as saying that the offer of 2.2 shares in EFG Eurobank for one in Ergobank plus 4,000 drachmas per share was not a good option, despite a theoretical value of 37,300 drachmas per share.

    EFG Eurobank's share was overvalued, and therefore vulnerable to a sharp drop in the mid-term, Merrill Lynch was quoted as saying.

    In a paid advertisement in newspapers, Ergobank's management urged shareholders to refrain from selling their stock.

    It said it was examining the details of the offer, and any alternatives.

    Athens News Agency

    [15] Three-month treasury bill yield rises in auction

    Athens, 16/06/1999 (ANA)

    The yield on three-month treasury bills rose in an auction held yesterday. Offered were 25 billion drachmas worth of paper, the finance ministry said in a statement.

    The average weighed rate rose to 9.44 percent from 8.90 percent in the previous auction of three-month T-bills on March 23.

    It was the first time in several months that yields on state securities moved higher following a period of steady decline.

    Bids submitted totalled 88 billion drachmas, around 3.5 times more than the amount offered.

    The finance ministry said the rise in short-term rates reflected current market conditions. Banking sources also said the rise did not signal a permanent trend.

    Athens News Agency

    [16] Piraeus Investment shows profit rise

    Athens, 16/06/1999 (ANA)

    Piraeus Investment, a member of the Piraeus Bank Group, reported a spectacular rise in its net profits for the first five months of the year to 3.4 billion drachmas from two billion in the same period in 1998, it said in a statement yesterday.

    The company's portfolio capital gains totalled 18.3 billion drachmas.

    Its portfolio composition on May 31 was: domestic shares (88.3 pct), foreign shares (8.8 pct) and money market (2.9 pct). Piraeus Investment has launched a share capital increase worth 7.93 billion drachmas. The rights issue will be completed on June 26.

    Athens News Agency

    [17] Investment firms show rise in market value in May

    Athens, 16/06/1999 (ANA)

    The country's 16 investment firms showed a rise in market value to 561.1 billion drachmas in May from 478.4 billion drachmas in April, a rise of 17.3 percent, or 82.7 billion drachmas, the Union of Institutional Investors said in a statement yesterday.

    The firms posted a rise in net asset value to 590.05 billion drachmas in May from 515.96 billion drachmas in April, the statement said.

    Athens News Agency

    [18] Athens Foreign Exchange

    Athens, 16/06/1999 (ANA)

    Bank of Greece closing rates of: June 15, 1999

    Parities in Drachmas

    Banknotes             Buying  Selling
    US Dollar             309.157 316.325
    Can.Dollar            211.256 216.154
    Australian Dlr        204.134 208.867
    Pound Sterling        494.691 506.160
    Irish Punt            408.041 417.502
    Pound Cyprus          557.107 570.024
    Pound Malta           727.222 757.523
    Turkish pound (100)     0.068   0.071
    French franc           48.991  50.127
    Swiss franc           201.718 206.395
    Belgian franc           7.966   8.151
    German Mark           164.308 168.117
    Finnish Mark           54.048  55.301
    Dutch Guilder         145.826 149.207
    Danish Kr.             43.251  44.254
    Swedish Kr.            36.270  37.110
    Norwegian Kr.          39.257  40.168
    Austrian Sh.           23.354  23.895
    Italian lira (100)     16.597  16.982
    Yen (100)             256.620 262.570
    Spanish Peseta          1.931   1.976
    Port. Escudo            1.603   1.640
    
    Foreign Exchange      Buying  Selling
    New York              309.157 316.325
    Montreal              211.256 216.154
    Sydney                204.134 208.867
    London                494.691 506.160
    Dublin                408.041 417.502
    Nicosia               557.107 570.024
    Paris                  48.991  50.127
    Zurich                201.718 206.395
    Brussels                7.966   8.151
    Frankfurt             164.308 168.117
    Helsinki               54.048  55.301
    Amsterdam             145.826 149.207
    Copenhagen             43.251  44.254
    Stockholm              36.270  37.110
    Oslo                   39.257  40.168
    Vienna                 23.354  23.895
    Milan                  16.597  16.982
    Tokyo                 256.620 262.570
    Madrid                  1.931   1.976
    Lisbon                  1.603   1.640
    
    Athens News Agency

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