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Athens News Agency: News in English, 00-01-24
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Hovercraft - Purchase - Russia, Ukraine24/01/2000 17:01:37
The Greek government proceeded with a ?Solomon-like? decision on Monday, signing two separate agreements for the purchase of four military hovercraft · two from Ukrainian arms exporter Ukrspetsexport and two from Russia˘s well-known Rosvoorouzhenie.
The total deal with the Ukrainian side reaches 32 billion drachmas, as opposed to 33 billion with the Russian contractor. (One US dollar equals roughly 325 drachmas)
The two Ukrainian-built hovercraft are scheduled for delivery between 12 to 14 months, whereas 12 to 18 are foreseen for the vessels built in Russia.
According to specifications, the four ?Zurb?-type hovercraft can transport three medium-sized tanks or eight to 10 personnel carriers or 10 armoured vehicles. Otherwise, they can transport -- at speeds reaching up to 60 knots -- some 500 fully equipped soldiers, 60 to 70 mines or any combination of the two. As most hovercraft, these vessels can move onto land and overcome obstacles some 1.5 metres in height.
Off-set benefits agreed to in the signed contracts include the transfer of know-how and equipment from Ukrspetsexport to Hellenic Aerospace Industries (EAB) for the hovercrafts' maintenance as well as allocation of a floating dock to the Greek navy for maintenance on the vessels and training in Greece for prospective crews. On its part, Rosvoorouzhenie will construct, in collaboration with a Greek firm, on-land facilities in the country for the vessels˘ docking and maintenance.
In commenting on the purchase, National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said the four hovercraft will cover several inter-branch needs of Greece˘s armed forces, ?strengthening our direct reaction in whatever point in the Aegean, something that comprises the heart of our national defence and our strategic goal.?
In a related development, Tsohatzopoulos also announced the purchase of an undisclosed number of smaller hovercraft, ?M-10s?, from British shipyards and with EAB cooperation envisioned.
The national defence ministry˘s leadership is expected to brief a relevant Parliament committee on other arms procurement programmes next week.
 Deutsche Bank-Ergobank stake24/01/2000 16:40:05
Deutsche Bank on Monday raised its stake in Ergobank to 9.99 percent through the purchase of a 4.99 percent of its shares, worth 203 million euros, from EFG Consolidated Holdings through a block transaction on the Athens Stock Exchange.
The German bank had initially acquired a 5.0 percent stake in Ergobank last June.
A Deutsche Bank's statement said that the move was aimed to strengthen its presence in the Greek financial market.
Deutsche Bank has signed a strategic cooperation with EFG Eurobank and holds 9.97 percent of its equity capital.
Ergobank is one of the biggest banks in Greece with total assets of 6.456 billion euros at the end of 1999. The bank's workforce totals 2,830 and operates a network of 135 branches.
Its main activities focus in retail banking and customer asset management.
 Proodos-1999 results24/01/2000 16:30:58
Proodos-Greek Investments SA, a listed investment company, announced a spectacular 135 percent increase in its 1999 profits to 17.5 billion drachmas, from 7.4 billion the same period in 1998, reflecting a 140 percent capital gains' rise.
Proodos will proceed with a cut in its nominal share price from 2,000 to 1,000 drachmas and an one-to-one share offering.
The two moves are included in a share capital increase plan, worth 20 billion drachmas, envisaging a two-for-one rights' issue at a nominal price of 1,250 drachmas per share.
 Stock market report24/01/2000 15:50:07
Equity prices lost ground on Monday pushing the market below the 5,100 level once again on the Athens Stock Exchange.
The general index ended 0.40 percent lower at 5,081.95 points, sharply off the day's highs of 5,167.31 points as investors preferred to take early profits.
Smaller capitalisation stocks were particularly hit with the relative index ending at 1,580.51 points, off 2.39 percent.
Turnover was a low 200 billion drachmas, excluding an Ergobank's block share trade worth 70 billion drachmas.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks fell 0.51 percent to 2,650.02 points, while the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index eased 1.10 percent to 938.0 points.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 228 to 90 with another nine issues unchanged.
 Greek reply - Turkish proposal - Military contacts24/01/2000 15:42:19
An official reply from Greece's national defence ministry regarding a proposal by Ankara for the participation of military officials in ongoing Greek-Turkish bilateral contacts will be given following a meeting on the issue between the ministers of defence and foreign affairs.
Greek National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos made the statement on Monday in response to a press question.
 Budget revenues-1999 report24/01/2000 14:52:58
Greece's regular budget revenues showed a provisional surplus of 483 billion drachmas in 1999, a figure likely to reach 500 billion due to extended tax revenue collection, Finance Undersecretary George Drys said on Monday.
Drys said that the regular budget's revenues rose 10.6 percent last year compared with 1998, easily surpassing a budget goal for a 6.0 percent increase.
Tax departments' revenues rose 18.1 percent in December for a year-on-year rise of 12.0 percent. Customs revenues fell 1.6 percent in December for a 3.9 percent increase in 1999, while value added tax revenues jumped 39.7 percent in December for a 10.3 percent increase in the year.
 Papantoniou-penalty rates bill24/01/2000 14:52:01
National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou on Monday tabled a controversial bill in Parliament envisaging the settlement of penalty interest rates on overdue loan debts.
The bill included an annex expanding measures to past settlement of debts in the agricultural sector.
He said that debtors totalled around 400,000, of which 150,000 owed in general to commercial banks, another 50,000 owed to the Workers' Housing Organisation and another 200,000 were farmers with debts to the Agricultural Bank of Greece.
The bill also envisages that total debt from penalty interest rates on overdue loans could not be four times more than the original sum for loans until Dec. 31, 1985; three times more for loans between the period from Jan. 1, 1986 to Dec. 31, 1990 and double for loans between the period from Jan. 1, 1991 to April 15, 1998.
He said that the government's proposals would drastically cut penalty rate debts, an unprecedented moved in the EU, but also cut banks' incomes as well and would help in lowering domestic interest rates.
Greek debtors could benefit from debt cuts of up to 60-80 percent, he said.
 Weather-improvement24/01/2000 14:50:54
The bout of cold weather which hit the country, and particularly central and northern Greece, began receding on Monday but the Weather Bureau said the biting cold and relentless snow would return as of Wednesday.
Snow chains were still required equipment, however, on vehicles moving around mountainous areas. Thirty-three villages in the areas of Metsovo, Konitsa and Zagohorio remained snowed in.
Dozens of scheduled routes by inter-city bus company KTEL, primarily to villages in the Kataras area, were cancelled due to snowfall of more than a metre.
 Plane-incident24/01/2000 13:48:47
An Aegean Airlines plane on a scheduled run to Thessaloniki was forced to return to Athens airport after take-off on Monday after the crew detected trouble with the aircraft's engine.
The plane, with 45 passengers on board, landed without incident.
An investigation into the causes of the problem is presently under way.
 German minister due24/01/2000 12:34:27
German Transport, Public Works and Housing minister Reinhard Klimmt arrives in Athens on Wednesday for a two-day official visit and talks with his Greek counterparts on various issues and a visit to the German-built new Athens international airport which is nearing completion.
Herr Klimmt will hold talks with his Greek counterpart Athanassios Mandelis, and the Ministers of Merchant Marine Stavros Soumakis and Environment, Town planning and Public Works Costas Laliotis.
A German embassy announcement said the talks would focus on public transport issues, transport safety and transport of hazardous cargos.
Her Klimmt will inspect the new Athens airport at Spata, near Athens, and take a brief ride on the new metro line in central Syntagma square. He will also make a brief inspection of harbour installations in the port of Piraeus.
 Car torched-Group24/01/2000 12:34:23
A group calling itself the "Anarchist Faction for Overthrow" on Monday took responsibility for the torching of a municipal car shortly after midnight Sunday.
Unidentified persons set fire to a car belonging to the municipality of Vrilissia at 1:00 a.m., causing serious damage to the vehicle.
An anonymous caller later telephoned the private FLASH radio station and claimed responsibility for the attack on behalf of the group.
 Athens Metro inauguration24/01/2000 12:34:13
The Athens Metro, the Greek capital's biggest transportation project, will be formally inaugurated shortly after noon Friday by premier Costas Simitis, with President of the Republic Costis Stephanopoulos and political party leaders attending.
After the 1:00 inauguration, the Metro line from Sepolia to the Pentagon (national defence ministry, via Syntagma Square, will begin normal operation, while cultural events will be staged at several of the new stations. The second Metro line from Syntagma square to Daphni will open to the public in a few months. The Sepolia-Syntagma and Syntagma-Pentagon sections of the new line will take nine minutes each.
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