Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-07-10
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 10/07/1998 (ANA)
- Gov't to float stake in state telecom on Athens, NY bourses
- EFG Eurobank confirms purchase of stake in Ergobank
- Greek stocks hit new high on Latsis share purchase
- Transport minister to Belgrade to promote Balkan cooperation
- Dias interbank cash system boasts 400,000 transactions per month
- Charter arrivals to Greece up 5.7 pct in May
- Athens hoteliers seek state help for 2004 Olympics
- Gov't to improve deals in supermarket supplies, car spare parts
- Athens surprised over provocative report by EU representative
- Another 20 used F-16s headed to Greece
- Church initiates procedures for return of missing money
- Greece planning more active role in combatting narcotics trade
- Tendering for Bank of Central Greece
- PIP disbursements increase by 50 percent
- Titan delegation in Belgrade
- Panathinaikos gets Italian playmaker
- Foreign exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Gov't to float stake in state telecom on Athens, NY bourses
The government will float 15 percent of Hellenic Telecommunications
Organisation (OTE) in the autumn on the Athens and New York stock exchanges,
National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said yesterday.
Mr. Papantoniou told reporters that OTE would also issue a bond in
international markets and carry out a share capital rise.
The three moves would raise one trillion drachmas for investments and
modernisation, he said.
OTE's ownership status would have to be changed to allow the acquisition by
private buyers of up to 45 percent in the state-run telecom from the
current legally ordained 25 percent, Mr. Papantoniou said.
OTE has already carried out two flotations on the Athens Stock Exchange
including private placements.
Mr. Papantoniou said no more of OTE's stock would be sold to private
investors after the autumn flotation.
EFG Eurobank confirms purchase of stake in Ergobank
EFG Eurobank yesterday confirmed in a statement that it had bought a stake
in Ergobank, a blue chip listed on the Athens bourse.
Purchased were 2.9 million shares from major Ergobank shareholder Lazaros
Efremoglou, who will become a member of EFG Eurobank's board, the statement
Bankers and brokers leaked news of the sale on Wednesday but neither bank
confirmed or denied the talk. The purchase was effected yesterday partly
through a block trade on the Athens Stock Exchange and partly through an
exchange of shares in Ergobank and EFG Eurobank, which will also carry out
a share capital increase, the statement said.
EFG Eurobank, which is a member of the Latsis Group, recently took the
market by surprise, offering 93 billion drachmas over four years in a
privatisation tender for Cretabank. The offer doubled two other bids
submitted in the tender.
Greek stocks hit new high on Latsis share purchase
Greek equities soared to a new record close on the Athens Stock Exchange
yesterday led by a frenzy of buying in bank shares following news that the
Latsis Group had acquired an 11.4 percent stake in blue chip Ergobank.
Lazaros Efremoglou, a major shareholder in private Ergobank, sold what is
believed to be an 11.4 percent stake, or 2,900,000 shares, to the Latsis
Group at 35,000 drachmas per share.
The transaction totalled 101.5 billion drachmas, and was made for EFG
The general index rose 1.75 percent to end at 2,674.28 points, breaking its
previous record close of 2,669 points in April. Turnover was 214.5 billion
drachmas, fuelled by the Ergobank transaction.
The Latsis Group owns EFG Eurobank, which recently submitted an offer of 93
billion drachmas in the privatisation of Cretabank, doubling offers by two
Sector indices finished mixed. Banks soared 3.83 percent, Insurance jumped
3.67 percent, Leasing fell 0.68 percent, Investment surged 4.73 percent,
Construction was 1.47 percent off, Industrials rose 0.56 percent,
Miscellaneous fell 1.83 percent and Hol ding eased 1.20 percent.
The parallel market index for small cap companies rose 1.41 percent. The
FTSE/ASE 20 index rose 2.26 percent.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 144 to 94 with another 16 issues
National Bank of Greece ended at 47,600 drachmas, Ergobank at 35,341, Alpha
Credit Bank at 27,930, Ionian Bank at 17,590, Delta Dairy at 3,740, Titan
Cement at 22,880, Intracom at 12,955, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,650 and
Hellenic Telecoms at 8,290 drachmas.
Transport minister to Belgrade to promote Balkan cooperation
Transport and Communications Minister Tassos Mantelis began a two-day
official visit to Belgrade yesterday as part of a Greek initiative to
promote Balkan cooperation in transport and communications.
Mr. Mantelis is heading a team of senior executives from state enterprises
that fall under his ministry's jurisdiction.
He is scheduled to hold talks with Serbian President Milan Milutinovic,
Yugoslav federal Prime Minister Momir Bulatovic, and the Yugoslav ministers
of transport and communications.
Today he is due to sign a bilateral agreement on road transport before
meeting Mr. Bulatovic.
Also on the agenda for discussion are air traffic in the region, promoting
rail transport, and developing telecommunications.
Dias interbank cash system boasts 400,000 transactions per month
More than 400,000 transactions are carried out every month through Diasnet,
Greece's interbank payment system, which links 2,100 automatic teller
machines belonging to 42 banks.
Panagiotis Thomopoulos, chairman of Dias SA and deputy governor of the Bank
of Greece, said yesterday that the system served the country's entire
banking system, offering depositors basic consumer banking services.
Dias also offers Diaspay, a payment system for employees and pensioners in
the public and private sectors. Diaspay spans 23 banks and more than 400,
000 clients. The company aims to increase the number of clients to 700,000
Charter arrivals to Greece up 5.7 pct in May
Charter tourist arrivals rose 5.7 percent in May this year to 610,000 from
577,370 in the same month of 1997, the Greek National Statistics Service
said (GNSS) in a statement yesterday.
The charter arrivals were recorded at the country's main airports of
Hellenikon (Athens), Rhodes, Kerkyra, Heraklio and Thessaloniki. The five
facilities handle around 70 percent of charter arrivals from abroad.
Charter arrivals rose 9.2 percent in April-May to 851,111 from 779,379 a
year earlier, GNSS said.
The occupancy rate in Greek hotels rose to 68.33 percent in May this year
from 67.87 percent in the same month of 1997.
The rate was slightly lower in April-May at 59.19 percent compared to 59.12
percent in the same period of last year, GNSS said.
Athens hoteliers seek state help for 2004 Olympics
The Athens hoteliers' association yesterday asked the state for help ahead
of the Olympic Games in 2004, which are to be hosted by the Greek
Hoteliers urged the creation of a promotion agency to improve the city's
image abroad. They said they supported plans to build hotels in the
prefecture of Attica, and around a new airport for Athens being built at
Gerasimos Fokas, chairman of the association, forecast that rates for stays
in Athens hotels would increase by 8-12 percent in 1999.
Attica has 518 hotels with 54,645 beds of which 269 hotels, or 30,724 beds
were located in Athens. Luxury hotels account for 23 percent of the
Gov't to improve deals in supermarket supplies, car spare parts
The development ministry has ordered measures to improve transparency in
contracts made between supermarkets and their suppliers, and boost
competitiveness in the sale of spare parts and oil for cars.
The measures in the two sectors may help to bring prices down, aiding the
government's anti-inflation drive.
Under the terms of a market police directive signed by Development
Undersecretary Michalis Chrysohoidis, supermarket suppliers will have to
record the value of discounts (percentage, cash or in kind) on sales
The ministry hopes that the measure will allow a drop in the price of
certain foodstuffs and household goods.
In addition, Chrysohoidis has ordered measures to boost competitiveness in
the sale of spare parts and oil for cars that the ministry believes will
also lead to price reductions.
Under the terms of the directive, wholesale traders in spare parts and oil
are banned from trying to set retail prices for their goods.
Athens surprised over provocative report by EU representative
Greece yesterday expressed surprise over a press report concerning the
European Commission's outgoing representative in Ankara and his activities
during eight years of service in the Turkish capital.
Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said if the newspaper article was
accurate, Greece would take up the matter and seek the apportionment of
The article was reported in yesterday's edition of the Athens daily
"It is not possible for EU officials, who are supposed to be promoting the
Community's interests, to act in a manner which promotes the interests of
another country," Mr. Reppas said.
The front-page Ethnos article, under the headline "Commission envoy a
servant of the Turks", charged that Briton Michael Lake was guided in all
his actions by Turkey's positions, which he also fully adopted.
The article said Mr. Lake accused Greece of undermining the west's strategy
and harming its interests in the region.
In Mr. Lake's 25-page report, the paper notes, he even admits writing
speeches for Turkish President Suleyman Demirel when the latter was
Another 20 used F-16s headed to Greece
Greece will purchase 20 used F-16 fighters (Block 30) from the US,
reportedly worth US$12 million each, according to an initial agreement
reached by National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos and US Defense
Secretary William Cohen.
The agreement provides that the aircraft will be updated to Block 50 status
by the state-controlled Hellenic Aerospace Industry (EAB), in cooperation
A further round of negotiations is underway for the purchase of four Kidd-
class destroyers from the US Navy.
Washington has also expressed interest in selling Greece early-warning
baloons and long-range anti-aircraft Patriot missiles, sources said.
Church initiates procedures for return of missing money
A committee of inquiry for the Autocephalus Orthodox Church of Greece
yesterday announced that hundreds of millions of drachmas are missing from
the Church's coffers during the 1989-96 period, and that it had initiated
procedures for the recovery of the m issing amounts.
Details were contained in a report presented to the Holy Synod following
its investigation into cases of financial irregularities.
The committee said it would seek the return of 400 million and 200 million
drachmas, respectively, from two lay staff in the Church administration,
and that the probe was continuing to ascertain possible involvement of
clergymen and more lay staff.
The Holy Synod authorised Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos
to proceed with any and all lawful administrative actions to redress the
Greece planning more active role in combatting narcotics trade
Prime Minister Costas Simitis will submit a proposal to the European Union
summit in Vienna in December on the prevention and combatting of narcotics
trafficking, Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos announced yesterday.
The aim of the Greek initiative is for the EU to play a more active role in
efforts to stamp out the production and distribution of illegal narcotics
Mr. Pangalos was addressing a meeting at the Foreign Ministry at which he
presented a report on the activities of the Greek presidency of the Dublin
regional group on the combatting of narcotics trafficking in the arc formed
by the Balkans, the Near and Middle East.
He announced also that a meeting of Balkan ministers would be held in
Athens at the earliest, perhaps at the end of the year, to discuss ways of
fighting the drug trade.
Also speaking at yesterday's meeting, Greece's national coordinator for
narcotics, Marietta Yiannakou-Koutsikou, said emphasis was being placed on
the Balkans because "there is blatant cultivation and trafficking of
narcotics", citing in particular the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
She noted that Bulgaria had similar problems, while Romania had become a
centre for the laundering of illegally gained money and the storage of
large quantities of illicit narcotics.
Tendering for Bank of Central Greece
The Athens Stock Exchange publicised tendering proclamations yesterday for
the Bank of Central Greece and the Hellenic Duty Free stores.
In the first case, Agricultural Bank sells 51 per cent of the Bank of
Central Greece's common shares, which it has in its possession (4.9 million
common name shares) as well as all the privileged shares it has, namely,
20.1 per cent or 235,708 privileged shares.
Those interested can receive the relevant informative envelope from the
Agricultural Bank of Greece on July 13-14 and will be able to obtain more
information from the ABN Amro Bank and Deloitte&Touche companies which are
the Agricultural Bank's exclusive advisors on the sale. The bank has 23
branches and employs 587 people.
PIP disbursements increase by 50 per cent
Disbursements by the Public Investment Programme (PIP) on jointly-funded
projects of the second Community Support Framework increased by 50 per cent
in the first half of '98 compared to the corresponding period last year -
with the corresponding increase as against the first half of '96 totalling
197 per cent.
Disbursements until the end of June this year amounted to 511 billion
drachmas compared to 341 billion drachmas in the first half of the year
last year and 172 billion drachmas the year before last.
According to National Economy Undersecretary Christos Pachtas, the rates of
increase are particularly optimistic for the course of the economy, since
the jointly funded projects in the second CSF constitute the largest part
(71 per cent) of PIP's disbur sements.
In all, during the first half of 1998, PIP's disbursements increased by
37.2 per cent and amounted to 733 billion drachmas compared to 534 billion
drachmas in 1997 and 283 billion drachmas in 1996.
Titan delegation in Belgrade
A delegation of the Titan Cement Co. group met yesterday with the Serbian
government minister responsible for privatisations and representatives of
the firm showed interest in the denationalisation programme and the
transformation process regarding the ownership of Serbian cement industries
and more specifically the cement industry in the Kosieric region.
Yiorgovanka Tabakovic said that Greek investments in Yugoslavia are very
important and added that the Greek partner must not appear in the Yugoslav
market solely as a cement exporter but as an equal partner in the
production and sale process.
She said that Yugoslavia is open to foreign investments and proposed the
continuation of talks for the privatisation of the specific cement industry
with the participation of representatives of the government, the cement
industry and the Greek partner.
Panathinaikos gets Italian playmaker
The Panathinaikos (Athens) basketball club yesterday announced the signing
of Italian playmaker Fernando Gentile.
According to reports, Panathinaikos paid around US$150,000 to secure his
release from the Stefanel Milan team, with the player reportedly signing a
one-year contract with the option for a further year - worth $450,000 the
first year and $520,000 the second.
Cloud with occasional storms in eastern Macedonia and Thrace. Temperatures
will range from 13-25C in the north, 17-31C in the Ionian and mainland
regions and 19-28C in the Aegean. Athens, sunny with few clouds and
temperatures between 18-30C. In Thessaloniki, winds will be strong with
temperatures from 17-24C.
Thursday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 302.947
British pound 493.718 Japanese yen (100) 215.681
French franc 49.404 German mark 165.629
Italian lira (100) 16.807 Irish Punt 416.640
Belgian franc 8.032 Finnish mark 54.475
Dutch guilder 146.950 Danish kr. 43.475
Austrian sch. 23.547 Spanish peseta 1.953
Swedish kr. 37.430 Norwegian kr. 39.017
Swiss franc 196.461 Port. Escudo 1.619
Aus. dollar 185.064 Can. dollar 205.245
Cyprus pound 562.464