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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 00-10-17

Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cyprus-mail.com/>


Tuesday, October 17, 2000

CONTENTS

  • [01] Panic selling drives market down to new depths
  • [02] Laiki announces centenary gift package for shareholders
  • [03] Poll shows AKEL a edging DISY in spring elections
  • [04] US navy manoeuvres to coincide with Nikiforos
  • [05] Party leaders meet at Ledra Palace
  • [06] Turkish Cypriots plan general strike over austerity moves
  • [07] Israeli embassy apologises for security delays
  • [08] Government gives up on mobile desalination plan
  • [09] Limassol nets lottery jackpots

  • [01] Panic selling drives market down to new depths

    By Jennie Matthew

    THE STOCK Market plunged by almost five per cent yesterday, bringing the all-share index to a new year-low of 314.40, as a wave of panic selling gripped the exchange amid fears of total meltdown.

    The index fell 4.92 per cent, at one point dipping to an intra-day low of 313.27. Volume stood at £27.37 million, considerably lower than Friday's £44.2 million.

    One investor was yesterday so desperate that he grabbed a table and brandished it in the direction of exchange officials before he could be restrained and ejected by bystanders.

    And the future is bleak. Market analysts yesterday predicted worse crashes on the horizon, pushing the index near the 200 mark.

    “We are paying for the mistakes of the past and we will carry on paying for at least the next three months,” said Demos Stavrides of AAA Stockbrokers, saying the major problem was of over-valued shares still coming down from the dizzying highs of 1999.

    Commentators fear that the Bank of Cyprus' imminent Athens debut will drag the market down still further, not rescue the exchange from the edge of the abyss as some had hoped.

    The share is to list in Greece at £5.20-£5.70, below its Friday closing price of £6.25. BoC yesterday began a two-week suspension of trading ahead of its October 23 Athens debut, but analysts expect the share will move down on the Cyprus market to match its Greek price when it reopens.

    Any fall in BoC is expected to drag the rest of the market down with it, especially the heavyweight banking sector, and could push Laiki Bank to the £6 mark from its current £8.25: Laiki yesterday shed 45 cents in 90 minutes of trading, despite the announcement of a generous centenary gift package to shareholders.

    In BoC's absence, the banking sector put in a miserable performance yesterday, slumping by 5.07 per cent. The Hellenic Bank also fell six cents down to finish at £1.54.

    But it was trading companies that bore the brunt of yesterday's fall, lurching down an alarming 8.80 per cent, as volume reached £613,479.

    The tourism sector came in a close second, 8.75 per cent down. Libra Holidays Group opened at £2.60, to finish at £2.49, while Salamis Tours shed eight cents to close at £1.17.

    Among investment companies, panic selling ravaged Cytrustees Investment and Leda Investment. They lost 18 cents and 15 cents respectively to close at £1.46 and £1.22.

    Unifast Finance & Investments fell 21 cents to finish at £2.79, and Europrofit lost another 15 cents to finish at £1.10.

    Institutional investors and individuals with some cash left jacked up the volume, grabbing investments at bargain basement prices that keep on falling.

    The chairman of the House Finance Committee, Diko deputy Markos Kyprianou, yesterday called on the Cabinet to appoint an investigating committee to examine “why the market shot up so much last year and why it's going down so fast now”.

    The House Finance Committee suggested it was time to lay blame with the relevant parties.

    Tuesday, October 17, 2000

    [02] Laiki announces centenary gift package for shareholders

    By Athena Karsera

    LAIKI Bank yesterday announced a series of giveaways to its shareholders to mark its centenary celebrations.

    Two new members were also appointed to the board of the bank.

    Announcing the measures yesterday, Bank director Kikis Lazarides said: “With the coming of 2001, 100 years have passed since four distinguished and progressive Limassol citizens set up the 'Popular Fund of Limassol' essentially sowing the seed of what is the Popular Group today.”

    He said that the Bank's board had decided during a meeting yesterday morning on additional benefits for shareholders: “On the eve of our important anniversary, we strongly feel the need to reward our shareholders for their trust.”

    Lazarides said the rewards package included a bonus issue on a ratio of two free shares for every three held on December 8, 2000 and the issue of convertible debentures for 2003-2010 on a ratio of one convertible debenture of a nominal value of £1 for every 10 shares held on January 11, 2001 with a minimum offering of £570. The debentures will have an initial compound interest of seven per cent and a conversion rate of £5.70.

    Rights on a ratio of one for every 20 shares held on January 11, 2001 are also to be issued, with an exercise fee of £2.40, along with warrants to shareholders exercising their rights, on a ratio of one warrant per every three rights and one warrant per every three convertible debentures accepted by the shareholders. The exercise price has been set at £7 for 2005-2007.

    Lazarides said the first two proposals would b submitted for approval during an Emergency General Assembly on November 21.

    The new board members were named as former Finance and Commerce Ministry director Michalis Erotocritos and former acting executive councillor of the Barclays Group Christos Pavlou.

    Lazarides also said that the bank was in the final stages of preparation for entering the Athens Stock Exchange, but that it would not be following the Bank of Cyprus' lead in announcing its impending entry long before time -- “even they have admitted it was a mistake.”

    Responding to questions on the state of the Cyprus Stock Exchange, Lazarides said a correction had been expected after the excessive gains of last year. “Perhaps a psychologist could explain it to us better. The CSE has been suffering from mismanagement since 1999. There was a lack of knowledge and experience and a lot of mistakes were made.”

    He said he did not see the current situation as a collapse of the Stock Exchange and rejected suggestions of a knock-on effect onto the economy. “If anything, it is the opposite: the Stock Exchange is affected by the economy.”

    Lazarides said the economy would only suffer in so much as “businessmen might put more focus on their shares than running their companies.”

    Tuesday, October 17, 2000

    [03] Poll shows AKEL a edging DISY in spring elections

    By Martin Hellicar

    THE NEXT parliamentary elections may be some seven months away, but the first opinion polls are already out, predicting not much is set to change after the May showdown.

    The only surprise is the strength of Nicos Koutsou's New Horizons party.

    A survey of 826 voters carried out by AMER for Politis newspaper between September 20 and October 6 suggests AKEL and DISY are still top dogs by a long chalk. The poll suggested main opposition party AKEL would secure 34.8 per cent of the vote, a whisker more than governing DISY, who were predicted to get 33 per cent. The two parties won 33 and 34.5 per cent of the vote respectively in 1996 House elections.

    DIKO remains a steady third, chosen by almost 16 per cent of those polled. The centre party won just over 16 per cent of the vote in 1996.

    The big surprise in the poll is Koutsou's New Horizons party, which came out with 5.3 per cent of the poll - about three times the support the right- wing party managed to garner in the 1996 elections. If the poll's predictions prove accurate, then Koutsou's party will make it into parliament for the first time after May 2001.

    Observers suggest the party has benefited from its hard-line approach to the settlement talks and from its leader's frequent and high profile spats with government top dogs.

    The parties loosing out, according to the AMER poll, are socialists KISOS and George Vassiliou's United Democrats. The survey gives Vassos Lyssarides' KISOS 6.51 per cent of the vote - compared to just over eight per cent in 1996 - and the United Democrats a paltry 1.5 per cent compared to 3.69 per cent in 1996.

    The poll suggests former President Vassiliou's party will fail to secure a seat at the next elections.

    The Green Party, which will be contesting the parliamentary elections for the first time in May, is predicted to get two per cent of the vote. This would give the fringe party a seat in the House, unless DISY succeeds in its bid to raise the entry threshold from the current 1.96 per cent to four per cent.

    Former Interior Minister Dinos Michaelides' KEA party - which did not exist at the time of the 1996 elections - is tipped to get 1.1 per cent of the vote in May.

    The AMER survey also asked people which current deputy they felt did his or her job best. The results made poor reading for governing DISY, whose DISY deputies failed to come out on top in a single one of the country's six electoral districts.

    AKEL, by contrast, were the big winners. They came out “winners” with Andreas Christou in Limassol, Thassos Michaelides in Larnaca, Kikis Yiangou in Famagusta and Demetris Christofias for Kyrenia.

    DIKO did very well for themselves too. New party leader Tassos Papadopoulos was top dog in Nicosia and DIKO deputy Nicos Pittokopitis was favourite in Paphos.

    Tuesday, October 17, 2000

    [04] US navy manoeuvres to coincide with Nikiforos

    By Staff Reporter

    THE GOVERNMENT yesterday dismissed reports that a Unites States navy exercise off the coast of Cyprus was linked to the National Guard's Nikiforos exercise this week.

    The US has informed the Cyprus authorities that warplanes from the aircraft carrier George Washington would be flying missions inside the Nicosia flight information region (FIR).

    The American exercise will be held between October 15 and 25, coinciding with the five-day Nikiforos, which starts today.

    Nikiforos is held every year in conjunction with the Greek military exercise Toxotis.

    In the past, Greek planes taking part in the exercise flew missions over Cyprus, bombing targets on the ground.

    The exercises have in the past sparked mock dogfights with Turkish fighters trying to disrupt Nikiforos.

    Reports have suggested the Americans might want to keep an eye on its allies Greece and Turkey, and prevent any situation from getting out of control.

    But yesterday, Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said: “Based on the information it has before it, the government believes these exercises cannot have any relation to the National Guard Nikiforos exercise.”

    Greek newspaper Kathimerini yesterday claimed Greek fighters would land at the Paphos base.

    According to Kathimerini, any Turkish attempt to prevent the Greek planes form stationing on the island would have adverse effects on the future of Greco-Turkish relations.

    Tuesday, October 17, 2000

    [05] Party leaders meet at Ledra Palace

    By Staff Reporter

    LEADERS of Greek and Turkish political parties met at the Ledra Palace yesterday to exchange views on recent UN led efforts for peace in Cyprus.

    According to a joint communiqué issued after the meeting, the party leaders agreed to promote bicommunal events, in view of the great success of the first festival of mutual understanding held last month, where some 8000 people turned up.

    The statement said the meeting was held “in a cordial and friendly atmosphere”.

    It added party leaders had exchanged views on the latest round of proximity talks in New York and the coming round in Geneva.

    Taking part in yesterday's meeting, organized by the Slovak Embassy, were Greek Cypriot parties DISY, AKEL, DIKO, KISOS and the United Democrats and the Turkish Cypriot side Democratic Party, Republican Turkish Party, Communal Liberation Party and Patriotic Unity Movement.

    According to AKEL leader Demetris Christofias, both Greek and Turkish Cypriots agreed unanimously that last month's festival of mutual understanding had been “an important step towards rapprochement and understanding”.

    DISY's Panayiotis Demetriou said that, “for the first time, we touched on issues dealing with the political substance of differences between the two communities, in a spirit of understanding.” Appealing to both sides, he said all must realise that there are “some arguments that each side must take into consideration when it sets out its own position.”

    A new meeting is planned for November 20.

    Tuesday, October 17, 2000

    [06] Turkish Cypriots plan general strike over austerity moves

    By Staff Reporter

    A GENERAL strike is planned in the occupied areas today to protest against an austerity package aimed at ending the economic crisis in the north.

    Turkish Cypriot opposition parties have labelled the package a “total destruction package” and have called for an all-out strike and rally in Nicosia today.

    Despite Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash's public warnings against “provocations”, Turkish Cypriot papers yesterday suggested almost everyone was set to participate in the action.

    Earlier this year, protesters angry at the collapse of six banks in the north stormed the 'parliament' building in occupied Nicosia.

    The economic package includes a cut in public salaries and a hike in fuel prices.

    Today's action has been organised by trade unions in the north in association with 41 other organisations.

    The package is evidently far from popular, and even Denktash appears keen to distance himself from it. “This package was announced to the public after the government talked and met with Turkey,” BRT television quoted Denktash as saying. “This package, which was not prepared in an transparent manner, was drawn up without the contribution of the president. For this reason, it is wrong to hold me responsible,” Denktash added.

    Denktash has also tried to put a lid on the protest, advising those taking part to stay away from the Nicosia rally.

    “The meaning of a strike is to be at the working place but refuse to work because you have something to protest. Any action beyond that must be avoided as provocation,” Denktash was quoted as saying in the Turkish Cypriot press on Sunday.

    But, according to Mehmet Ali Talat, the leader of the Republican Turkish Party, Denktash has “woken up too late” to prevent today's action from taking place.

    Talat has condemned the austerity package outright.

    Tuesday, October 17, 2000

    [07] Israeli embassy apologises for security delays

    By Jennie Matthew

    ANGRY journalists yesterday complained to the Israeli Embassy after being submitted to exhaustive security checks before being allowed to attend a briefing about Israeli policy over the ongoing clashes with the Palestinians.

    Television crews complained of having to wait for nearly an hour before their cameras passed the security hurdles.

    Of the 20 or so journalists who turned up to the briefing, several complained to Ambassador Michael Eligal about the draconian measures, saying it was unacceptable to treat guests of the embassy in such a way.

    Embassy First Secretary Shmulik Bass faxed a written apology to all journalists who attended the briefing half an hour later.

    As a matter of course, people entering the building must submit all bags and electronic equipment for scrutiny.

    “We would like to express our regret at any inconvenience suffered by any member of the media attending the briefing,” the apology read.

    Bass said it was the embassy's aim to facilitate and improve security measures in the next few weeks to ensure that “invited media” could pass into the building more quickly.

    The letter ended in the same vein. “Please accept once again my personal apologies for this inconvenience and I kindly ask for your understanding, due to the high alert currently in operation around all Israeli embassies.”

    The ambassador's briefing accused the Palestinians of full responsibility for the recent outbreak of violence, while welcoming an invitation from President Glafcos Clerides to hold a Middle East summit in Cyprus.

    Italy and Turkey have also offered to host emergency talks.

    Eligal spoke of strong Cypriot-Israeli ties and the good links between Cyprus and the Arab world.

    “We express our interest and will in such a meeting. We appreciate the position of the Cyprus government, as very balanced and against all violence, and their concern about the negative influence in the eastern Mediterranean,” he told journalists.

    But he added it was no secret that the Israeli government had “very, very low expectations” about current peace talks in Egypt.

    He said the Israeli side was attending the summit because of international pressure, primarily from the United States and President Bill Clinton, with whom they have a “long-lasting friendship”.

    As far as apportioning blame for the crisis, he was adamant that Israeli action was only a reaction and that police never initiated any outbreaks of violence.

    “The Palestinians initiated, planned and orchestrated the violence under the leadership of Arafat. We are only reacting, in a very restrained mood,” he said.

    Of the 101 people killed in the violence, only seven were not Palestinians or Israeli Arabs.

    The ambassador refused to acknowledge that the visit by opposition leader Ariel Sharon to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem on September 27 had provoked Palestinian outrage.

    Tuesday, October 17, 2000

    [08] Government gives up on mobile desalination plan

    By Staff Reporter

    AGRICULTURE Minister Costas Themistocleous yesterday announced the government was abandoning plans for mobile desalination plants and was to look at the possibility of powering desalination through renewable energy.

    Themistocleous said the fact that Akrotiri village, West of Limassol, had decided to host a static plant for the town meant the mobile unit that was to be sited off Moni was now not needed. He added that work on the Larnaca desalination plant was progressing well enough to be allowing some desalination “breathing space”.

    The Minister also announced that the government had decided to investigate the possibility of producing power for desalination plants through solar or wind power - an approach greens have long been campaigning for.

    Tuesday, October 17, 2000

    [09] Limassol nets lottery jackpots

    By Staff Reporter

    TWO lottery tickets bought in Limassol netted double jackpot wins over the weekend, both earning over a million pounds.

    A Limassol father of two won the European Lottery after his numbers came up in the draw in Madrid on Saturday, while a ticket bought in Limassol won the Greek lottery EPAP, though the winner had yet to come forward by yesterday.

    Ten countries took part in the European Lottery: the Cypriot man's winning numbers earned him a cool 2.5 million euro -- approximately £1,435,000.

    The winner, who chose to remain anonymous told Limassol's Capital FM radio yesterday that he would use his winnings to help his many siblings.

    “Personally I wasn't shocked. I listened carefully and first confirmed that I was the winner. I was calm, I am calm, and I slept well last night. No problem. Now, when I get the money there are needs that need to be covered, needs in the family. We are a large one, I have quite a lot of brothers and sisters. Up until now, this is all I have considered.”

    The EPAP winner is understood to have bought the winning ticket at the George Constantinou agency in Limassol.

    EPAP Cyprus manager Thanasis Zouglis said the winner had spent £4 on the ticket, winning £1,645,448.82 cents, the largest amount ever won by a Cypriot through EPAP, “Previously, the biggest win was £1,396,852.67 cents, on November 15, 1999.”


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