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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-07-15

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, 15/07/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Commercial Bank announces tender for 51% of Ionian through bourse
  • New hydrocarbon deposits discovered around main Prinos field
  • Australian scholar awarded 'Aristotle '98' prize
  • Reports cite EU Commission approval for OA equity capital increase
  • EOT concern over OA performance
  • Olympic 2004 sites confirmed
  • Pangalos meets Iranian housing minister
  • Europe-wide crime-fighting convention tabled in Parliament
  • Internet site for athletic events
  • Greek unemployment rate at 10.3 percent
  • Profit-taking selling ends rally of prices
  • Alpha Ependyseon results
  • 'Heleco '99' in Thessaloniki
  • Union of Greek banks meeting with employers', traders' group
  • Committee evaluates 3 bids for Cretabank
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Commercial Bank announces tender for 51% of Ionian through bourse

Commercial Bank of Greece, the country's second largest bank, yesterday officially invited tenders for the sale of a 51 percent stake in Ionian Bank through the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE).

A bank announcement said that bids should be submitted to the ASE's board on Aug. 24.

Commercial Bank is selling 14.3 million common shares. It will retain a 7 per cent stake in Ionian after the sale. Under the terms of the sale the transaction must be made in cash.

The announcement also underlines that the successful buyer must honour rights and obligations covering Ionian Bank's staff and ensure the self- sufficiency of the bank's insurance fund.

Employees at Ionian Bank last month ended a six-week strike to protest the bank's privatisation after receiving government assurances that Ionian's future buyer will have to honour the terms of collective agreements signed by management and staff.

Commenting on the tender announcement,the Union of Ionian Bank Employees said that jobs are not safeguarded in the event of Ionian's merger or restructuring.

However, the union recognises that a clause on the insurance issue contained in the proclamation is positive although it is linked to the change in the fund's charter, saying Labour Minister Miltiades Papaioannou has committed himself on the issue.

New hydrocarbon deposits discovered around main Prinos field

Geophysical and seismological research conducted by experts from Europe and the United States on behalf of the Northern Aegean Petroleum Co. (NAPC) has revealed the existence of five more hydrocarbon deposits in the Gulf of Kavala.

The newly discovered deposits are located in regions around the "parent" deposit - the Prinos field - near the island of Thassos. According to reports, obtained data was analysed at the Petroleum Institute in Houston, with results considered particularly encouraging.

The consortium, compising NAPC and the Greek state, has decided to carry out initial exploratory drilling operations, the first of which will start in August west-northwest of Thassos in the Gulf of Kavala.

Depending on results the consortium will decide on a third drilling operation in the same area. The find is considered to give a "new lease on life" of at least 10 years for oil production from the Prinos field.

NAPC officials said that unless the two drilling operations are carried out soon production from the "parent" deposit at Prinos will drop to 5,500-6, 000 barrels a day and the consortium will be obliged to operate at a loss.

Australian scholar awarded 'Aristotle '98' prize

Australian academic Michael Osborne, the vice-rector at Melbourne's La Trobe University, yesterday received the "Aristotle '98" award, a distinction honouring foreign scholars who promote Hellenic culture in their respective countries.

"We believe the influence of Greek culture is evident in both Hellenism and the international community...irrespective of what other countries will do, we will keep departments of Greek studies operating," Prof. Osborne noted.

The award was presented by Macedonia-Thrace Minister Philippos Patsalnikos during a ceremony at the ministry.

Reports cite EU Commission approval for OA equity capital increase

The European Commission has approved a 22-billion-drachma equity capital increase for ailing Olympic Airways' restructuring programme, according to sources.

The assurance was given by EU Commissioner for Transports Neil Kinnock to Greek Transport Minister Tassos Mantelis last Saturday, during a visit by the latter to Yugoslavia. Even though the original request was for 35 billion drachmas, the Commission excluded 13 billion drachmas that were used for voluntary retirement and insurance expenses in 1996-97.

According to the same sources, the transport ministry fears the likelihood of the EU requiring evidence of OA's reliability before the disbursement of the funds.

EOT concern over OA performance

Greek Tourism Organisation (EOT) secretary general Nikos Skoulas said in a radio interview yesterday that continuing problems in OA's flight schedules could have a negative impact on the nation's tourism flow.

Mr. Skoulas said cancellations were already reported from hotels and travel agencies, a result of the uncertainty surrounding OA's operations.

However, he admitted that since the vast majority of foreign tourist arrivals in Greece were covered by charter flights, OA's flight problems did not seriously affect arrivals.

Scenes of distressed passengers waiting for long-delayed flights at Greek airports are badly damaging the country's tourist image abroad, the EOT official added.

Latest reports said that Olympic Aviation pilots, responsible for domestic routes, are requesting the state-run carrier's restructuring and a fleet renewal.

According to reports, OA's management wants normalisation of domestic flights and from September onwards more flights to Balkan countries.

Olympic 2004 sites confirmed

An inter-ministerial committee yesterday confirmed more of the sites expected to host Olympic 2004 facilities, while a Cabinet meeting will soon convene to decide the awarding of construction projects.

Among the projects presented were a sailing centre on the Agios Kosmas coastal site, a rowing centre at Schinias, eastern Attica, and the Olympic village at the foot of Mount Parnitha, which will take up 315 acres instead of the 207 initially planned.

It was also proposed that an equestrian centre be constructed at Markopoulo instead of Tatoi, while several sports facilities may be constructed in Aspropyrgos, western Attica, instead of the Faliro coastal strip due to environmental concerns.

Pangalos meets Iranian housing minister

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos met in Athens yesterday with visiting Iranian Minister of Housing and Urban Development Ali Abdul Ali Zadeh.

Issues discussed between the two officials included Greek-Iranian relations, as well as a tripartite cooperation between Greece, Iran and Armenia on economic issues and details about an ongoing meeting on ancient civilisations with the participation of Iran, Egypt, Italy, and Greece, a foreign ministry announcement said.

Mr. Pangalos also raised the issue related to Iran's debts to several Greece-based firms. On his part, the Iranian minister said Tehran was willing to settle the issue.

Europe-wide crime-fighting convention tabled in Parliament

A draft bill ratifying a European convention regarding money laundering, investigation, confiscation and impounding of crime-related goods, was tabled in Parliament yesterday.

The convention, prepared by the Council of Europe (CoE), is aimed at pressuring signatory nations to adopt appropriate measures in their national legislation in order to fight crime.

Internet site for athletic events

The sports undersecretariat yesterday unveiled its own Internet site during a ceremony at Zappeion Hall.

The site will provide information on athletic events around Greece and throughout the world. The address is: www.sport.gov.gr

Greek unemployment rate at 10.3 percent

Greece's unemployment rate is running at 10.3 percent, Labour and Social Security Minister Miltiades Papaioannou said.

Citing figures from the official employment office OAED, Papaioannou said the Greek government was particularly concerned about the level of youth unemployment and planned to create jobs for 200,000 young Greeks in the next three years.

A third of those new positions would be created by the end of the year. Fifty thousand jobs will be devoted to the unemployed aged between 20-27, he said.

Papaioannou added that roughly half of unregistered foreign workers in Greece had app lied for a work permit, saying 370,000 had signed up since the beginning of the programme to register illegal workers from an estimated total of 750,000.

Profit-taking selling ends rally of prices

Greek equities came under strong profit-taking selling in the last hour of transaction on the Athens Stock Exchange to end sharply lower, reversing an early advance to new record territory.

The general index ended 1.77 percent lower at 2,638.20 points with turnover at 62.9 billion drachmas.

Dealers said that the market felt uncomfortable near the 2,700-mark barrier and stressed that it would take some time before a final assault above th is level.

Sector indices lost ground. Banks dropped 3.05 percent, Leasing plunged 7.30 percent, Insurance ended 4.24 percent lower, Investment eased 2.65 percent, Industrials fell 1.0 percent, Construction ended 1.25 percent off, Holding dr opped 1.72 percent and Miscellaneous ended 1.70 percent down.

The parallel market index for small cap companies ended 1.91 percent off. The FTSE/ASE 20 index dropped 1.50 percent to 1,608.06. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 155 to 76 with another 21 issues unchanged.

Esha, Lampsa, Balkan Export, Elve, Britannia, Aspis Invest, Dane, Macedonian Mills and Sfakianakis scored the biggest percentage gains.

Attica Bank, Bank of Central Greece, Xiosbank, Development Invest, Intertyp, Ionian Bank and Alpha Leasing suffered the heaviest losses. National Bank of Greece ended at 47,470 drachmas, Ergobank at 32,000, Alpha Credit Bank at 27,800, Ionian Bank at 19,200, Delta Dairy at 3,830, Titan Cement at 22, 690, Intracom at 12,275, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,815 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 8,195. Olympic

Alpha Ependyseon results

Alpha Ependyseon, one of the largest stockbroker firms in Greece, concluded the first half of 1998 with the doubling of net profits - 11.4 billion drachmas - and with a considerable excess value of 14.8 billion drachmas, according to the six-month account ing statement ratified by its board during a meeting yesterday.

The difference in results was primarily due to an increase in profits from the purchase and sale of securities, which amounted to 10.5 billion drachmas compared to 4.7 billion drachmas in the corresponding period last year, while portfolio revenues rema ined at about the same levels and totalled 1.42 billion drachmas as against 1.44 billion drachmas.

Out of the total portfolio amounting to 70.9 billion drachmas, 87 per cent corresponds to the domestic portfolio and 13 per cent to the overseas portfolio.

The internal value of the share as at June 30, 1998 amounted to 3,450 drachmas, while the bourse value amounted to 3,300 which corresponds to a 7 per cent discount. According to unofficial figures as at July 13, the portfolio's value amounted to 75.6 billion drachmas, the excess value to 19 billion drachmas.

'Heleco '99' in Thessaloniki

The "Heleco '99" international exhibition and conference on technology and the environment will be held in Thessaloniki next June, the Technical Chamber of Greece's leadership said yesterday.

Heleco '99 will be the third such exhibition organised in Thessaloniki, while the first was held in 1993 and the second in 1995.

Union of Greek Banks meeting with employers', traders' groups

Representatives of banks as well as employers' and traders' associations exchanged views at a meeting yesterday in Athens, following an initiative by the Union of Greek Banks (EET).

Issues discussed included the funding of companies in connection with their viability, the simplification of processes for granting loans, the high cost of lending (the level of interest rates and bank commissions), the cost of using credit cards, inform ation for the banks' customers on new fiscal products and the euro. The need was also discussed to abolish the Special Banking Operations Tax and the issue of restricting deposits bound with the Bank of Greece.

The meeting was attended by representatives of the EET's administrative council and the presidents of the Federation of Greek Industries (SEB), the Federation of Industries of Northern Greece, the Chambers of Commerce of Athens, Piraeus and Thessaloniki , the National Confederation of Greek Commerce, the Panhellenic Federation of Exporters, the Commercial Societies of Athens, Piraeus and Thessaloniki, as well as of hotel organisations.

Committee evaluates 3 bids for Cretabank

An evaluation committee responsible for examining the three bids submitted for the purchase of Cretabank completed its meeting yesterday afternoon.

The bid by the Consolidated Eurofinance Holdings SA, belonging to the Latsis group, to which the Eurobank also belongs, was evaluated with 49.64 points out of a possible 50. Ergobank's bid, as well as a joint bid by the Bank of Piraeus and the Bank of Macedonia-Thrace received 40.53 and 37.83 points, respectively.

The criteria used in the above evaluation are linked to the price offered by the three interested buyers, the relative suitability of each prospective buyer, an operational plan proposed for Cretabank, etc.

A relevant file will be forwarded to the national economy ministry today.

WEATHER

Fine weather is forecast throughout Greece today with high temperatures increasing during the day. Temperatures will range from 20-38C on the mainland and 23-36C on the islands. Athens hot and sunny with temperatures between 22-39C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 21-38C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Tuesday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 296.707 British pound 485.286 Japanese yen (100) 209.977 French franc 49.142 German mark 164.722 Italian lira (100) 16.698 Irish Punt 413.664 Belgian franc 7.980 Finnish mark 54.143 Dutch guilder 146.042 Danish kr. 43.208 Austrian sch. 23.396 Spanish peseta 1.939 Swedish kr. 36.853 Norwegian kr. 38.688 Swiss franc 195.156 Port. Escudo 1.609 Aus. dollar 183.252 Can. dollar 200.444 Cyprus pound 562.266

(C.E.)


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