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Athens News Agency: News in English, 00-06-01
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Foreign Exchange Rates-Friday01/06/2000 18:38:46
Following are indicative foreign exchange rates for commercial banks released by the central bank for the next working day.
Fridays rates (buying)
U.S. dollar 358.370
German mark 170.917
 Weather Forecast-Friday01/06/2000 18:21:04
Scattered cloud is forecast in most parts of the country on Friday, likely to turn to showers. The west will be sunny.
 Folli-Follie-1st quarter results01/06/2000 17:06:52
Folli-Follie on Thursday reported a spectacular 300 percent jump in its first quarter sales and a 330 percent increase in profits to 1.2 billion drachmas from 400 million in the same period last year.
The company expects its full year sales and profits to double compared with its 1999 figures, with sales at 20 billion and profits at 6.5 billion drachmas.
Folli Follie has signed an agreement with DFS, a luxury products distribution company covering airports in northeast Asia and the Pacific, to promote its products in the region.
DFS is the biggest airport and tax free shop supplier in the world with annual sales more than 600 billion drachmas last year.
 FAA - Airbuses - Olympic01/06/2000 17:06:38
The Washington-based Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) has reportedly consented to the replacement of two Olympic Airways 747s with new ?Airbus? 340s on the airlines routes to the United States.
Greek civil aviation authorities (YPA) this past week sharply criticised a more-or-less tacit ban by the FAA against an OA plan to replace two out-dated Boeing ?Jumbos? with the state-of-the-art European-made Airbuses.
FAA, the influential agency that oversees air traffic control and the airline industry in the United States, reportedly informed OA officials last week over the ban, although an official memorandum to YPA had not been relayed.
OA officials had said the FAA simply cited ?bureaucratic reasons? and a freeze on new listings on the agencys register for the decision.
 Benroubi-1st quarter results01/06/2000 17:01:39
Ch.Benroubi & Sons SA on Thursday reported a 13.6 percent rise in its consolidated turnover to 3.6 billion drachmas in the first quarter of 2000, with pre-tax profits at 313 million drachmas.
The company recently announced an exclusive dealership deal with Cosmote. The deal envisages creation of country-wide network of 85 retail sites, with the first five expected to operate in June.
Benroubi aims to increase sales through its expansion in the mobile telephone market.
 OTE Leasing-ASE listing01/06/2000 16:53:14
OTE Leasing, a Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation's affiliate, will seek listing on the main market of the Athens Stock Exchange, its chairman Ch. Kazantzis told reporters on Thursday.
He said that listing would follow completion of a tax research and approval by Hellenic Telecom's board.
Ernst & Young Finance will act as financial consultant to the public offering.
Kazantzis said several companies, including Agricultural Bank of Greece, have expressed interest in acquiring OTE Leasing.
The company ranked second in the domestic leasing market in 1999, with leased assets totalling 27.5 billion drachmas. Turnover was 10.25 billion drachmas and pre-tax profits 660 million drachmas.
 ASE-close01/06/2000 16:46:04
Equity prices came under heavy pressure on the Athens Stock Exchange to end sharply lower on Thursday.
Blue chip stocks were particularly hit leading the wider market lower while smaller capitalitalisation stocks showed signs of resistance.
Dealers said a large sell order (around 2,000 shares) for National Bank of Greece at open price, temporarily pushed its price at the day's 10.0 percent limit down before recovering late at the session to end 2.99 percent lower. The sell order pushed the general index lower and dampened sentiment in the market.
The general index ended at 4,532.98 points, off 1.63 percent, but off the day's lows of 4,522.94 points. Turnover was a low 149 billion drachmas.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks ended 1.81 percent lower at 2,507.67 points and the FTSE/ASE 40 index fell 0.59 percent to 668.75 points.
The parallel market index for smaller capitalisation stocks ended 0.75 percent lower at 990.64 points.
 European Energy Conference-Christodoulakis01/06/2000 16:31:42
Europe needs a strong energy market that will respect the environment, Development Minister Nikos Christodoulakis told delegates in a European Energy Conference held in an Athens hotel on Thursday.
Inaugurating the two-day conference, organised by the European Union and Greece's development ministry, Christodoulakis said that "a necessary intermediate aim is to strengthen regional energy markets".
"However," he said, "creating a European energy market needs a regulatory framework to regulate private and state behaviour and motives to implement the necessary energy infrastructure projects".
Referring to the Greek government's efforts to liberalise its energy market, he described as important steps the forthcoming flotation of the Public Power Corporation, the country's electricity utility, the completion of a tender to supply household electricity in Northern Greece and the creation of an energy futures market.
Loyola de Palacio, the European Commission's vice-president, expressed her belief that Greece would enter the euro zone and also stressed the importance of the Greek-Turkish and Greek-Italian energy deals.
She said that a liberalisation process in the European energy market was progressing with different steps, as other EU member-states were rapidly implementing EU directives and others were moving slower.
De Palacio urged for measures to protect the environment in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea region from energy transport pollution risks.
Merchant Marine Minister, Christos Papoutsis, said that Greece "will be present to all energy planning and at the forefront of efforts to protect the environment".
The conference aims to promote cooperation between the European Union and Black Sea and Mediterranean countries in major energy issues.
 Capital Markets' Committee-new bill01/06/2000 15:30:49
The Greek government on Thursday tabled a draft bill aimed to modernise the country's capital markets, envisaging stricter regulations for listed companies and promoting transparency.
The draft bill envisages issuing of a code of conduct for listed companies on the Athens Stock Exchange to ensure equal treatment and shareholders' rights and to promote transparency.
The bill envisages that penalties imposed for breaching the law would rise to 200 million drachmas.
It also calls on big shareholders (owners of more than 5.0 percent of a company's equital capital) to pre-announce any changes in their stakes.
Stock market authorities will be offered the power to monitor the process in share capital increase plans announced by listed companies or companies seeking listing on the market, end to impose penalties if necessary.
 Prime minister - Berlin - Summit01/06/2000 15:19:04
Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis departs for Berlin on Friday afternoon in order to participate over the weekend at an international summit focusing on the issue of government in the 21st century.
Fourteen international leaders are expected to attend, including US President Bill Clinton.
 NovaBank-September opening01/06/2000 15:16:15
NovaBank, a joint venture between Interamerican Group and Portugal's BCP bank, is expected to begin operating in September with an initial equity capital of 50 billion drachmas and a network of 45 branches.
Its network will cover Athens and Thessaloniki initially, although the bank plans to expand with the creation of another 75 branches around the country by 2002.
NovaBank will focus in phone and Internet banking services and will have a wide network of automatic cash machines.
G.Pehlivanides will be NovaBank's chief executive with G.Taniskides and J.P. Sanchez as general managers.
 Greece-EMU entry-Stournaras01/06/2000 15:07:18
Greece will enter the euro zone in a few days but that does not mean any further commitments for the country, the government's chief economic advisor Yiannis Stournaras told ANA on Thursday.
In an interview with ANA, Stournaras noted that Greece's EMU entry meant a prudent economic policy, combatting excessive spending and supporting a social state.
"Greece will enter the euro zone on June 19 when a decision will be taken by EU leaders, but formally its EMU membership begins on January 1, 2001," Stournaras said.
"I believe that no one will raise objections to the country's membership knowing the Greek economy's progress," he noted.
Stournaras dismissed talk of further commitments following Greece's EMU entry. "The only commitment a euro zone member-state has is to implement an economic policy coherent with a Stability and Growth Pact. That is the basic limitation. Of course, there are guidelines that we agree to and others we don't," he said.
"The Stability Pact is clear. It envisages that a country's deficit must be contained to low levels, but it is up to each national government to decide how to achieve this target. No one can enforce ways to reduce deficits."
Stournaras noted that Greece's economic growth rates were higher than the EU average and that its membership in the euro zone would help in strengthening the euro currency.
He said that the government would launch a campaign after the EU summit's decision to inform the Greek public over the euro currency.
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