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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-12-31

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, 31/12/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • ASE projected among Europe's main markets in `99
  • Ericsson cuts back stake in Intracom to 4%
  • Greek equities break 2,700 level
  • National Bank: GDP at 3.2% in '98, expected at 3.4% in '99
  • OTEnet drops internet rates
  • Athens: Cancellation of S-300s won't affect joint defence doctrine
  • Karamanlis and other parties' reactions
  • Tsohatzopoulos in Albania for contacts
  • OAED: some 75,000 aliens in N. Greece have applied for work permits
  • Commercial and National Banks expand towards 'euro-zone'
  • WEATHER
  • FOREIGN EXCHANGE

NEWS IN DETAIL

ASE projected among Europe's main markets in `99

The Athens Stock Exchange will be included among Europe's developed markets in 1999, ASE chairman Spyros Kouniakis told ANA.

Kouniakis said that during the first months of 1999 the Greek stock market will be officially upgraded from an emerging to a developed market, a view held by a large number of foreign investors.

ASE's chairman said that implementation of legislation on new listing requirements will give new impetus to the market. He expects a 50 percent increase in the number of listed companies in the next two years from 240 to 350, a prospect likely to boost the Greek market's depth and reduce investment risks.

Kouniakis also announced the operation of a derivatives market in the first half of 1999 along with a programme of electronic securitization. He said that from April 1, all share closing prices will be valued in euros.

Kouniakis also announced measures to strengthen the market's regulatory authority.

ASE's chairman said the Greek market was not considering extending the daily hours of trading in order to harmonise its operation with other major European markets, before completion of an electronic securitization project.

Ericsson cuts back stake in Intracom to 4%

Ericsson, the Swedish telecommunications giant, cut its stake in Greek telecommunications partner Intracom from 8 to 4 percent selling 2,820,000 shares, worth 30 billion drachmas, back to Intracom's main shareholders, including Intracom founder and presid ent Socrates Kokkalis.

The transaction took place in yesterday's session of the Athens Stock Exchange.

Greek equities break 2,700 level

Greek equities resumed their upward trend yesterday, following a moderate correction the previous day, pushing the general index above the 2,700 level on the Athens Stock Exchange.

The index ended 1.65 percent up to 2,709.18 points in heavy turnover of 107 billion drachmas. Volume was 21,294,000 shares.

Sector indices scored gains. Industrials jumped 3.07 percent up, Banks rose 1.08 percent, Leasing fell 0.23 percent, Insurance eased 0.28 percent, Investment was 0.81 percent up, Construction increased 1.38 percent, Miscellaneous rose 0.57 percent and Holding dropped 1.70 percent.

Intracom, Aspis Investment, Tegopoulos Publications and Metrolife were the most heavily traded stocks.

Tegopoulos ended 34.29 percent up on the first day of trading in the market. Dimitriadis, Vis, Druckfarben, Korinth Spin Mills, Metka, Desmos and Etma also scored big percentage gains.

Aspis Bank, Klaoudatos, Lambropoulos, Viosol, Dorian Bank, Galis, Sato, Sportsman and Halyps Cement suffered heavy losses.

National Bank of Greece ended at 61,600 drachmas, Ergobank at 31,695, Alpha Credit Bank at 29,060, Ionian Bank at 14,900, Hellenic Telecoms at 7,400, Delta Dairy at 3,925, Intracom at 12,900, Titan Cement at 20,680, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,275 and Minoan Lines at 6,350.

National Bank: GDP at 3.2% in '98, expected at 3.4% in '99

National Bank of Greece yesterday released its assessments for the Greek economy throughout 1998, noting that GDP was expected to reach 3.2 per cent, while for 1999 it was expected to slightly increase to 3.4 per cent.

The bank's English-language bulletin noted that inflation was expected to drop to under 2 per cent by the end of 1999.

National Bank added that total share value at the Athens Stock Exchange grew by 80 per cent since the beginning of 1998, while the outlook for 1999 is also positive. The bank stated that privatisations of state-run utilities and enterprises are expected to continue.

OTEnet drops internet rates

State-run Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation's (OTE) internet provider, OTEnet, yesterday announced lower rates for clients.

Specifically, PISN dial-up 'Dynamic PPP' customers will receive a 5 to 12 per cent reduction of fees, OTEnet said.

ISDN Dynamic PPP accounts will not be subject to a 5,000-drachma one-time connection fee and the monthly 25,000-drachma base fee will be reduced to 15,000 drachmas.

The announcement noted that the new OTE rates set to take effect on March 1 will lower rates for OTEnet internet users.

According to the OTEnet press release the new rates will be six drachmas per time unit, where the unit represents 1.5 minutes between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. and six drachmas per six minutes between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m.

Finally, dedicated line customers will be given a 25 per cent rate cut whether they use a 64 Kbit/s or a 128 Kbit/s modem connections.

Greece has among the highest internet prices, along with Germany, in the EU.

Athens: Cancellation of S-300s won't affect joint defence doctrine

Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis yesterday stressed that Tuesday's final decision for non-deployment of the Russian-made S-300 anti- aircraft missiles on Cyprus did not undermine the Greece-Cyprus joint defence doctrine, signed between the governments in late 1993.

Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides yesterday came under intense fire by opposition political parties in both countries over a decision by the latter, backed by the Greek PM, not to deploy the long-range anti-aircraft system on the divided island.

Speaking to Cyprus News Agency, Kranidiotis said Greece "secures and guarantees Cyprus' defence and is promoting the pursuits and the interests of Cypriot Hellenism".

"During the past few years, spectacular steps have been taken in the defence area, while the Cyprus problem has been successfully projected on a diplomatic level in the European arena," Kranidiotis maintained, adding that "the (joint defence) doctrine is not exhausted with the S-300s...the essence and the heart of the doctrine is Greece's commitment, which was reiterated by the Greek prime minister to the Cypriot president, that any aggressive act on the part of Turkey against Cyprus would constitute a 'casus belli' for Greece.

"...Our primary target should be the implementation of the two recent UN Security Council resolutions as well as the good use of the positive elements they contain...our second target should be the withdrawal of US- made armaments, which the Turkish-occupied forces on Cyprus have in violation of US law."

Karamanlis and other parties' reactions

Earlier, main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis called Nicosia and Athens' announced plans to install the missiles on Crete instead of Cyprus "a grave defeat" and a "fiasco".

"The consequences of incoherence, lack of credibility and concessions are very serious for the whole of Hellenism," Karamanlis said in a statement.

Karamanlis said the government's handling of the issue illustrated the need for "a national strategy with the greatest possible consensus and participation of all the country's political forces."

"It is time for Mr. Simitis to realise that ad hoc and superficial handling must stop and that partisan politics has no place in national issues," the ND leader said, calling on the premier to accept a ND proposal to establish a council of national policy.

In response, Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos said statements by Karamanlis over the S-300s' non-deployment were "attempts to obtain short- term partisan benefits."

"Because he (Karamanlis) believes that he can obtain short-term partisan benefits, he ignores the positive developments on the Cyprus problem, which are due to the coordinated and systematic actions of the Greek and Cypriot governments", Pangalos said, adding: "he ignores the commencement of talks between the EU and Cyprus, the unprecedented binding resolutions of the UN Security Council, the views of the European Union, of President Bill Clinton, of Prime Minister Tony Blair and of all the other politi cal leaders, which are a clear approval of President Clerides' proposals on the defusion of tension and a reduction of armaments on Cyprus, as well as a commitment for the promotion of specific measures in that direction.

Communist Party of Greece (KKE) deputy Orestis Kolozov cited what he called an "absolute bankruptcy of the joint defence doctrine", stressing that the government is applying a policy of "bowing to pressures by the US, NATO and the European Union."

"Developments related with the S-300 missiles prove that the policy of the 'joint defence doctrine' has gone absolutely bankrupt and that KKE's position was vindicated..." Kolozov said.

Coalition for the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) party leader Nikos Constantopoulos said Tuesday's decision to cancel the S-300 deployment on Cyprus caused "serious political damage and injury to Greece and Cyprus' reliability."

The Synaspismos leader, commenting on the possibility for deployment on Crete, said that "since the Cypriot government decided on non-deployment of the missiles on Cyprus, their deployment anywhere else would have no political or military meaning," adding: "the most serious weapons that both Greece and Cyprus have on the Cyprus problem are international law, UN resolutions and the process for accession of Cyprus to the European Union."

Tsohatzopoulos in Albania for contacts

Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos is in Tirana for a day-long visit that includes meetings with the Albanian government and Greek soldiers serving in the south.

His first call was to Gjirokaster where Greek consular staff and Greek military officials briefed the minister on work on a military hospital to be donated by the Greek government to the Albanian defence ministry.

The hospital is expected to cost more than 440 million drachmas while Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said the Hellenic Air Force was prepared to donate a further 120 million drachmas to a hospital already operating in the area.

A construction firm is expected to be assigned to the project by the end of 1999.

Referring to Greek-Albanian issues, Tsohatzopoulos expressed his satisfaction over the level of cooperation, calling it particularly successful.

Albanian Defence Minister Luan Haidaraga said that several bilateral programmes initiated over the past 14 months are an example of cooperation. He also expressed certainty that very good bilateral relations will continue and be upgraded in the future.

OAED: some 75,000 aliens in N. Greece have applied for work permits

The Manpower Employment Organisation (OAED) announced that roughly 75,000 non-EU aliens in northern Greece, most Albanians, have applied to acquire residence and work permits (green cards).

For the time being, all have acquired the "white card", a legal document allowing travel and residence on Greek soil.

Thousands of foreigners having acquired the white card do not appear to be in a hurry to achieve their complete legalisation since only 30,000 have submitted necessary supporting documents to date. The time limit for their submission normally ended today but an extension has been granted until the end of April.

According to OAED, the majority of aliens are located in regions having strong industrial and agricultural activity such as Thessaloniki, Pella, Imathia, Serres, Drama and Xanthi since 70 per cent of aliens' applications were submitted in these prefectures.

Commercial and National Banks expand towards 'euro-zone'

Commercial Bank is expanding activities related to the euro in light of implementation of the new currency in 11 European Union member-states as of Jan. 1.

The bank will provide depository, loaning, investment and insurance products in euro. It will also serve its customers in the transfer of capital in euro and will provide them with advice and information on new parities.

According to an announcement, as of Jan. 4 the Commercial Bank will implement the operational plan for the bank's transfer to the euro in light of Greece's hoped for participation as of Jan. 1, 2001.

In the first phase from Jan. 1, 1999 until Dec. 31, 2000 the bank will be treating the euro as a foreign currency as will all Greek banks. In the second phase from Jan. 1, 2001 until Dec. 31, 2001 the new accounts and new banking activities will be expressed in euro and only their summary data will be depicted in drachmas, unless the party involved desires otherwise.

In a similar development, the National Bank of Greece will be providing new products in euro on the occasion of 11 EU member-states adopting the euro as a common currency as of January 4, 1999.

The first product is the "Ethnokatathesi" account in euro. As of Jan. 4, 1999 all depositors so wishing will be able to open accounts of all kinds in euro and for which monetary regulations in force at present will apply. Existing accounts in ECU will be converted automatically into euro and at no cost with a 1:1 rate as of January 4, 1999. Interest rates as well as conversion prices will be determined on the basis of the interest rates and parities of currencies participating in the euro as of Jan. 4, 1999.

The Ethnothaneio loan in euro covers working capital loans in foreign currencies which will be governed until December 31, 1998 by the present status of granting loans in foreign currencies and more specifically in ECU. The currency of these loans will be converted into euro as of Jan. 4, 1999, while interest rates and conversion prices will be determined on the basis of the interest rates and parities of the currencies participating in the euro as of Jan. 4, 1999.

WEATHER

Overcast weather will prevail throughout Greec today with the possibility of light rainfall in east Thessaly, east central Greece, east Peloponnese, the Cycladic islands and Crete. Winds, variable, moderate to strong. Partly cloudy in Athens with temperatures between 6-13C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from -2C to 8C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Banknotes Buying Selling US Dollar 278.980 285.448 Can.Dollar 179.413 183.573 Australian Dlr 170.922 174.885 Pound Sterling 467.232 478.065 Irish Punt 416.402 426.056 Pound Cyprus 561.115 574.125 Pound Malta 691.768 720.592 Turkish pound (100) 0.073 0.076 French franc 49.864 51.020 Swiss franc 204.193 208.928 Belgian franc 8.107 8.295 German Mark 167.152 171.027 Finnish Mark 55.018 56.294 Dutch Guilder 148.373 151.814 Danish Kr. 43.916 44.934 Swedish Kr. 34.684 35.488 Norwegian Kr. 36.942 37.799 Austrian Sh. 23.778 24.330 Italian lira (100) 16.901 17.293 Yen (100) 241.800 247.406 Spanish Peseta 1.965 2.011 Port. Escudo 1.629 1.667

(C.E.)


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