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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-01-08

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

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

NEWS IN ENGLISH

Athens, Greece, 08/01/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Stocks sprint through 3,000 pts, post new high
  • Attica Enterprises calls off Cronus airlines buyout
  • Returns on domestic equity mutual funds jump in 1998
  • Gov't to auction five-year fixed income bond on Tuesday
  • Northern exporters open Internet page
  • Insurers Aspis Pronia, Iniohos get shareholders' OK for merger
  • Greece dismisses latest Turkish quips on Athens FIR as baseless
  • Athens will not accept fait accompli on FYROM name issue
  • G. Papandreou on briefing EU citizens on Amsterdam Treaty
  • Gov't appeals to teachers for smooth reopening of schools
  • PASOK delegation to visit Israel
  • OA flight schedule curtailed
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Stocks sprint through 3,000 pts, post new high

Equities climbed into new record territory yesterday reflecting high hopes for the Athens Stock Exchange's performance in 1999.

The general index ended 3.22 percent higher to break the 3,000-point barrier for the first time in its history, ending at 3,000.75 points, off the day's high of 3058.69 points at the opening.

Generating euphoria in the current phase is a spectacular drop in domestic bond yields towards European Union convergence criteria.

In addition, consumer price inflation is seen falling below 4.0 percent in December with 2.0 percent forecast for the summer.

A new record close on Wall Street also fuelled sentiment.

Trade was heavy with turnover at 106.3 billion drachmas on 17,741,000 shares traded.

Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation, Ergo Invest, Mytilineos and Eskimo were the most heavily traded stocks.

Sector indices scored gains across the board.

Banks rose 2.68 percent, Leasing soared 7.45 percent, Insurance ended 4.69 percent up, Investment increased 2.72 percent, Construction was 2.19 percent higher, Industrials rose 2.90 percent, Miscellaneous ended 2.12 percent up and Holding rose 0.66 percent.

The parallel market index for small cap companies ended 0.09 percent up. The FTSE/ASE 20 index rose 3.56 percent to 1,908.91.

Broadly, advancers led decliners by 216 to 46 with another 16 issues unchanged.

Karamolegos bakery soared 99 percent on its first day of trading on the parallel market.

Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation, Panafon, Ergo Invest, Katselis, Terna, Dimitriadis, Britannia, Kalpinis, Rocas, Levenderis, Zamba, Kyriakoulis Yachts and Kyriadides scored the biggest percentage gains, hitting the day's 8.0 percent limit up.

Halyps Cement, Lanacam, Sarandopoulos, Sigalas, Yalco, Nimatemboriki, Desmos and Ergas suffered the heaviest losses.

National Bank of Greece ended at 70,200 drachmas, Ergobank at 36,000, Alpha Credit Bank at 32,550, Ionian Bank at 16,200, Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 8,542, Delta Dairy at 4,230, Intracom at 15,100, Titan Cement at 23,900, Hellenic Petro leum at 2,370 and Minoan Lines at 6,700 drachmas.

Attica Enterprises calls off Cronus airlines buyout

Attica Enterprises, a passenger shipper listed on the Athens bourse, yesterday announced the cancellation of its takeover of Cronus Airlines due to unforeseen liabilities of the target company.

Attica Enterprises said in a statement that an audit of Cronus Airlines had revealed unforeseen and non-negotiable financial liabilities that could jeopardise the company's future.

The statement added that such eventualities were not envisaged in the takeover deal originally agreed.

Returns on domestic equity mutual funds jump in 1998

Returns on domestic equity mutual funds recorded an average 78.31 percent increase in 1998, the highest ever in Greece and one of the highest rises worldwide, the Union of Institutional Investors said in a statement yesterday.

Last year, 33 equity mutual funds were launched in the domestic market with two of them posting annual returns of more than 120 percent.

The Alpha Trust New Companies mutual fund recorded the highest returns at 129.36 percent, followed by Alpha Trust Development at 124.92 percent, and Midland Greek Development at 119.26 percent annually, the statement said.

Total assets of domestic mutual funds totalled 473.4 billion drachmas on December 31 1998, up 106.26 percent from January 1, 1998.

Gov't to auction five-year fixed income bond on Tuesday

Greece will auction 200 billion drachmas worth of five-year state bonds on Tuesday, January 12, the finance ministry said in a statement yesterday.

The auction for the bonds, which are to carry a fixed 6.60 percent annual rate, is open to primary dealers, the ministry said.

The bonds are in electronic form, and dealers will receive no commission.

Northern exporters open Internet page

The Association of Northern Greek Exporters has opened a page on the Internet as part of its drive to promote its members and their business activities.

The association's address is http://www.seve.gr, and the page displays services and corporate data on exporters, which is given in English.

Also outlined are European Union programmes to aid the sector, trade missions abroad, and links with the trade group's associates in 70 countries.

Available in the near future will be an on-line service for demand in products and services.

Insurers Aspis Pronia, Iniohos get shareholders' OK for merger

Shareholders of insurers Aspis Pronia and Iniohos gained shareholders approval for the former's absorption by the latter.

The new firm to be created from the merger will be called Aspis Pronia Damage Insurers.

In 1998 both companies posted revenue of more than 4.5 billion drachmas.

Greece dismisses latest Turkish quips on Athens FIR as baseless

The government yesterday dismissed as "unfounded and unsubstantiated" the latest Turkish claims that Greece was lacking in its technical responsibilities concerning air traffic control over the Athens Flight Information Region (FIR).

Saying the Turkish claims were full of inaccuracies, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas accused Ankara of distorting reality in its attempt to turn a purely technical issue into a political one.

"Turkey's aim is to change the status quo of air traffic control in the Aegean," Mr. Reppas said.

A Turkish foreign ministry announcement on Tuesday said Greece had not yet activated an air traffic radar system despite repeated requests by international civil aviation authorities.

Mr. Reppas said the Turkish claims came as no surprise to the Greek government, "since the neighbouring country invents or fabricates issues in order to create problems in our bilateral relations".

He added that a new advanced air traffic control system would become operational next month which, together with the existing system, would provide twofold coverage and consequently greater flight safety.

In contrast, the spokesman added, the Turkish system is obsolete and inadequate even for Turkey's own needs.

The percentage of flight delays for which Greece was responsible was 17 per cent in 1998, compared to 21 per cent in the case of Britain and 14 per cent for France, the spokesman added.

Mr. Reppas said Turkey was the last country which could speak of air traffic safety, given that its tactics and airspace violations in the Aegean jeopardised the safety of flights.

Replying to reporters' questions, Mr. Reppas said Greek control of the Athens FIR had not been questioned by international organisations, while the issue had not even been raised of a change in air corridors "which will continue to be used as normal".

Mr. Reppas attributed the delay in the new air traffic control system's operation in part at least to trade union "reactions", adding that the stance of air traffic control employees had not been good.

Athens will not accept fait accompli on FYROM name issue

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas yesterday stressed that Athens will not accept a fait accompli on the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) name issue, especially when this is attempted through indirect means.

Mr. Reppas made the statement in answer to a question related to Skopje's request to Athens that it intervene with the European Union so the name "Macedonia" is used for that country's dealings with Union member- states.

He added that he does have information of a relevant letter to the Greek foreign ministry, while he noted that Greece recently put an end to an effort by Skopje to acquire the international postal acromym "MK" for its postal use.

G. Papandreou on briefing EU citizens on Amsterdam Treaty

Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou will meet European Parliament Deputy President Geoge Anastasopoulos today to discuss the issue of briefing citizens on rights and obligations emanating from the Amsterdam Treaty.

It has been agreed between the Greek government, the European Commission and the European Parliament that an extensive programme of briefing Greeks on the Amsterdam Treaty and its influence on their lives will start in January. TV, radio, the press and Internet will be used for the briefing.

The briefing programme is based on the national action programme for the briefing of citizens, decided in September and currently being implemented.

The national action programme is based on the European Union programme "Building Europe together" and will absorb one million euro (about 330 million drachmas). Half of the money will be provided by the EU and the remainder by the national budget.

Gov't appeals to teachers for smooth reopening of schools

The government yesterday appealed to secondary school educators to contribute today to the smooth reopening of high schools, a large number of which were occupied before Christmas by pupils protesting extensive educational reform measures.

"We call upon everyone, particularly teachers, students and parents to contribute to the smooth functioning of schools. The government has proceeded to repair the damage caused during the occupations, so that the schools may be ready to function smoothly and immediately," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas stated.

He added that schools have sustained serious and extensive damage, possibly at the instigation of elements outside the school community, while prosecutors have launched preliminary investigations for the identification and prosecution of culprits.

Despite the appeal, teachers announced two-hour work stoppages in protest against the arrests of protesting students outside a school complex in the Galatsi districts of Athens.

In another development, a Supreme Court prosecutor issued a circular to prosecutors throughout the country ordering the arrest of students setting up road blocks. Also, police are instructed to arrest any school occupiers if notified by headmasters.

Additionally, a meeting between teachers' representatives and Education Minister Gerasimos Arsenis proved fruitless, with the minister insisting on dialogue on the reform law, and the teachers calling for its abolition. However, the teachers' organisati on affiliated to the ruling PASOK party said it was separating its position from the rest of the teachers' federation.

PASOK delegation to visit Israel

A PASOK delegation will begin an official visit in Israel and the Palestinian self-rule areas on Sunday, following an invitation by the Israeli Labour Party and the Organisation for the Liberation of Palestine (PLO).

Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis and PASOK central committee member Theodoros Tsoukatos will head the delegation.

They are scheduled to meet with Labour Party president Ehud Barak, Israel's FM Ariel Sharon, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Jerusalem Patriarch Diodoros, among others.

OA flight schedule curtailed

State-run Olympic Airways' management is expected to shortly issue its flight schedule for the rest of January, with OA subsidiaries Macedonian Airlines and Olympic Aviation picking up much of the slack following OA pilots' refusal to work overtime.

OA management estimates an 8-10 per cent reduction in the number of flights, while it is also apprehensive over the reaction by pilots, fearing an 'outbreak' of calling in sick in order to force cancellations of flights.

OA pilots are refusing to work overtime in order to press demands, including the hiring of more flight personnel.

The move has caused cancellations and long delays to OA's domestic and international flights.

OA managing director Theodoros Tsakiridis was less than optimistic about the debt-ridden national carrier's future.

Replying to pilots' accusations that OA's management was reducing the airline's itineraries to crush the company and decrease the value of its assets, Mr. Tsakiridis noted that since 1994 the government had written-off OA's 640 billion drachmas deficit, dished out 120 billion drachmas in state guarantees for the renewal of OA's fleet, and another 40 billion drachmas for an OA share capital increase.

It was the pilots who were devastating the airline, he said. "If they are considering buying the company, let them make a relevant proposal to the shareholder, who has indeed said in the past that it is searching for a strategic investor to acquire a 15 per cent stake in the company".

"The company cannot afford to give more money," Mr. Tsakiridis added.

WEATHER

Mostly fair weather will prevail throughout Greece today with cloud in the west of the country. Showers in western Greece. Winds variable, light to moderate. Athens will be sunny with temperatures between 7-20C. Partly cloudy in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 1-15C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Friday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 275.617 Pound sterling 455.606 Japanese yen (100) 248.298 French franc 49.036 German mark 164.460 Italian lira (100) 16.612 Irish Punt 408.419 Belgian franc 7.974 Finnish mark 54.099 Dutch guilder 145.961 Danish kr. 43.212 Austrian sch. 23.376 Spanish peseta 1.933 Swedish kr. 35.028 Norwegian kr. 37.271 Swiss franc 198.985 Port. Escudo 1.604 Aus. dollar 173.347 Can. dollar 182.528 Cyprus pound 553.199

(C.E.)


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