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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 99-12-17

Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] Industry sees healthy outlook for 2000
  • [02] Athens sees no Y2K disruption
  • [03] Gov't to sign digital TV deal
  • [04] Equities nosedive in moderate turnover
  • [05] Bond turnover overtakes Athens bourse
  • [06] Cosmote gets one million customers
  • [07] Athens Foreign Exchange
  • [08] First two 'Super Puma' helicopters received
  • [09] OTE initiatives for Y2K problem
  • [10] Gov't: Lipponen letter to Ecevit not binding for EU
  • [11] Microsoft funding for 2 Greek universities
  • [12] Tight consumer loans policy expected to continue in 2000
  • [13] SPECIAL OFFER
  • [14] Seminar focused on role of Greek NGOs
  • [15] Athens seminar considers developments in Iran
  • [16] Hyatt share capital increase
  • [17] To the "Daily Bulletin" subscribers

  • [01] Industry sees healthy outlook for 2000

    Athens, 17/12/1999 (ANA)

    Industrialists are optimistic about the future of the economy and their sector a year before Greece is to join the 11-member euro zone, the ICAP business research group said in an annual survey released yesterday.

    "Greek industry is in the best position to deal with the challenges of the future, and the prospects for companies in the sector are the best in 35 years," ICAP Managing Director Dimitris Maniatakis told a news conference.

    Held in the November 8-30 period, the survey of industry's assessment of 1999 and expectations for 2000 used a representative sample of 250 companies.

    It showed that industrialists believed inflation and interest rates would drop and that the procedures required to obtain a loan would be simplified.

    The industrialists had already discounted that Greece would join the euro zone, becoming its 12th member, the survey said.

    Industrialists forecast higher sales, and therefore profits, in manufacturing, and also planned to carry out more investments.

    The companies surveyed were relatively optimistic about employment in industry in 2000 in the wake of a year of stagnation in 1998.

    Optimism over job creation was expressed primarily in profitable medium- sized companies, most of which were active in paper, publishing and printing, metal products, electrical and electronic materials, and appliances.

    In terms of economic policy, the majority said they favoured a more liberal approach involving less taxation and more rapid privatisation.

    The European Union's decision at the Helsinki summit this month to award Turkey candidate status had ushered in a new era, according to ICAP president A. Kyriakopoulos, who is also general director of Alpha Credit Bank, the country's largest private com mercial bank.

    "An enormous new market has opened its gates to Greek enterprises. The opportunities being presented are of incalculable value and taking advantage of them will lead the Greek economy and Greek companies to new levels of growth and prosperity," Mr. Kyr iakopoulos said.

    Athens News Agency

    [02] Athens sees no Y2K disruption

    Athens, 17/12/1999 (ANA)

    The Athens Stock Exchange (ASE) has been Year 2000 compliant since September and is also ready to handle any glitches in the computer changeover to a new date, it said in a statement yesterday.

    The ASE-Y2K Programme to tackle the problem was developed in 1998 on the basis of international norms and practices, the statement said.

    Further information on the project is available on the ASE's website at www.ase.gr

    The ASE has also developed contingency plans for the capital market in case there are unforeseen malfunctions due to the millennium problem.

    The bourse plans to hold a mock trading session on Sunday, January 2, to take the system through its paces before the market opens for the first trading session of the millennium on Monday, January 3.

    The ASE and financial and credit institutions will be closed for business on December 31 as a precautionary measure.

    Athens News Agency

    [03] Gov't to sign digital TV deal

    Athens, 17/12/1999 (ANA)

    The government on Monday will sign a contract with Multichoice for the provision of digital television services, Press and Media Minister Dimitris Reppas said yesterday.

    There were two bids, and details of the deal would be released after the signing on Monday, Mr. Reppas said.

    Athens News Agency

    [04] Equities nosedive in moderate turnover

    Athens, 17/12/1999 (ANA)

    Equities continued to slump on the Athens Stock Exchange yesterday with the general index dropping below 5,200 points, the lowest level since 27 August of this year.

    The general index ended 4.44 percent down at 5,190.99 points. Turnover was 202.3 billion drachmas.

    The parallel market index for small capitalisation stocks was down 7.67 per cent at 1,716.25 points.

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavily traded stocks ended 3.73 per cent lower at 2,665.31 points.

    Sector indices ended as follows: Banks (-3.08 pct), Leasing (-6.6 pct), Insurance (-7.86 pct), Investment (-4.04 pct), Construction (-6.79 pct), Industrials (-5.11 pct), Miscellaneous (-5.13 pct) and Holding (-7.08 pct). Of 320 shares traded declin ers led advancers at 304 to 13 with 3 issues remaining unchanged. The most heavily traded stock was Esha.

    National Bank of Greece ended at 22,860 drachmas, Alpha Credit Bank at 24, 940, Titan Cement Company (common) at 37,190, Hellenic Petroleum at 4,625, Intracom at 12,985, and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 6,690 drachmas.

    Athens News Agency

    [05] Bond turnover overtakes Athens bourse

    Athens, 17/12/1999 (ANA)

    Turnover in the domestic secondary bond market outstripped trade on the Athens Stock Exchange yesterday although sellers were more active than buyers due to profit taking.

    The benchmark 10-year bond continued to trade above par, showing a yield of 6.37 percent from 6.25 percent in the previous session and more than 6.17 percent on Tuesday.

    The yield spread over German bunds fluctuated around 126 to 127 basis points from 120 basis points a day earlier and 119 basis points on Tuesday.

    Turnover through the Bank of Greece's electronic trading system was 220 billion drachmas from 60 billion drachmas in the previous session and 144 billion drachmas on Tuesday.

    In yesterday's trade, sell orders accounted for 208 billion drachmas of turnover after investors raked in their profits from a recent rise.

    Dampening sentiment was the Athens Stock Exchange's steep decline, although players had already begun selling off before the bourse slumped.

    The market brushed off a statement on Tuesday by Prime Minister Costas Simitis that the government would decide early next year on revaluation of the drachma's central parity against the euro.

    Players had already discounted the move, traders said.

    The market has been fuelled recently by the planned revaluation in the European exchange rate mechanism, which, according to Bank of Greece governor Lucas Papademos, is scheduled for June 2000, and according to National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou, in the next six months.

    Greece is to apply to join the EU's euro zone in March 2000, with a summit in June expected to endorse the application for entry on January 1, 2001.

    The market also was unmoved by cuts in the central bank's intervention rates this week by 0.75 percentage point. It had already priced in a reduction of around 0.50 percentage point.

    The deeper cut is expected to give the market more impetus after the holiday season, analysts said.

    In recent sessions, the forward spread for the next 12 months between Greek benchmark 10-year bonds and equivalent German paper has been estimated at 50 basis points, coinciding with Greece's planned entry into the euro zone by January 1, 2001.

    According to analysts, the yield spread over equivalent German paper is likely to drop to 100 basis points by the end of the year, revising downwards an earlier estimate of 120 basis points.

    Drachma noses down vs euro : The drachma yesterday edged down against the euro, which had risen versus most currencies in markets abroad, despite a central bank intervention to nudge up the national currency, traders said.

    The central bank stepped in by supplying 250 million euros for the second session.

    At the central bank's daily fixing, the euro was set at 330.180 drachmas from 329.810 drachmas in the previous session.

    The US dollar slumped against the drachma in line with its decline on international markets.

    At the fixing, the greenback was set at 325.640 drachmas from 329.190 drachmas a day earlier.

    Athens News Agency

    [06] Cosmote gets one million customers

    Athens, 17/12/1999 (ANA)

    Cosmote, the Hellenic Telecommunication Organisation's mobile phone subsidiary, yesterday gained its millionth customer.

    The firm said in a statement that the achievement came after only 20 months of commercial operation.

    One of the fastest growing mobile operators in Europe, the company had met most of the targets it had been set, the statement said.

    Athens News Agency

    [07] Athens Foreign Exchange

    Athens, 17/12/1999 (ANA)

    Bank of Greece closing rates of: December 16, 1999

    Parities in Drachmas

    Banknotes             Buying  Selling
    US Dollar             323.035 330.525
    Can.Dollar            217.645 222.691
    Australian Dlr        206.207 210.988
    Pound Sterling        522.209 534.316
    Irish Punt            415.888 425.531
    Pound Cyprus          566.432 579.565
    Pound Malta           751.919 783.249
    Turkish pound (100)     0.055   0.057
    French franc           49.933  51.091
    Swiss franc           204.689 209.435
    Belgian franc           8.119   8.308
    German Mark           167.467 171.350
    Finnish Mark           55.088  56.365
    Dutch Guilder         148.630 152.076
    Danish Kr.             44.021  45.042
    Swedish Kr.            38.045  38.927
    Norwegian Kr.          40.335  41.270
    Austrian Sh.           23.803  24.355
    Italian lira (100)     16.916  17.308
    Yen (100)             313.631 320.902
    Spanish Peseta          1.968   2.014
    Port. Escudo            1.634   1.672
    
    Foreign Exchange      Buying  Selling
    New York              323.035 330.525
    Montreal              217.645 222.691
    Sydney                206.207 210.988
    London                522.209 534.316
    Dublin                415.888 425.531
    Nicosia               566.432 579.565
    Paris                  49.933  51.091
    Zurich                204.689 209.435
    Brussels                8.119   8.308
    Frankfurt             167.467 171.350
    Helsinki               55.088  56.365
    Amsterdam             148.630 152.076
    Copenhagen             44.021  45.042
    Stockholm              38.045  38.927
    Oslo                   40.335  41.270
    Vienna                 23.803  24.355
    Milan                  16.916  17.308
    Tokyo                 313.631 320.902
    Madrid                  1.968   2.014
    Lisbon                  1.634   1.672
    
    Athens News Agency

    [08] First two 'Super Puma' helicopters received

    Athens, 17/12/1999 (ANA)

    Two of four all-weather "Super Puma" helicopters were incorporated into the Hellenic Air Force's 358th search and rescue squadron yesterday during a ceremony at the Elefsina air base. Both Merchant Marine Minister Stavros Soumakis and Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said in their addresses that acquisition of the aircraft ends a 10-year process for the right helicopter.

    The French-made helicopters can cover an area of 180 nautical miles and fly around the clock regardless of most weather conditions. They are equipped with a special radar system which allows them to be able to detect human life in the sea, even at night .

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos also announced plans to acquire another four such helicopters, with the relevant contract to be signed in February 2000 with a delivery date in 2001.

    Athens News Agency

    [09] OTE initiatives for Y2K problem

    Athens, 17/12/1999 (ANA)

    In an attempt to eradicate possible repercussions from the "Y2K" problem, the Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) will be in a state of increased readiness on upcoming crucial dates to handle possible problems stemming from whatever cause.

    The entire effort will be coordinated by a centre of operations organised at the state-run utility's headquarters.

    On Dec 31, Jan. 1-2, 2000, Feb. 28-29 and March 1, customers will be able to contact the following services around the clock:

    1500 - Announcement of faults for special clients

    9225199 announcement of faults for private telephone centres

    0801-20001 an open line specially for the bug 2000 problem

    6108198 or 8060299 central coordinating agency

    0870-761913351 telephone linkage via satellite

    6111145 or 47 office for the "project 2000".

    Athens News Agency

    [10] Gov't: Lipponen letter to Ecevit not binding for EU

    Athens, 17/12/1999 (ANA)

    The government stressed yesterday that the European Union was not bound by a personal letter sent by the current president of the European Council, Finnish Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen, towards Turkish Premier Bulent Ecevit.

    "The letter sent to Bulent Ecevit by Paavo Lipponen is a personal letter from the prime minister of Finland and not from president of the European Council," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said.

    Mr. Reppas said the letter was not a legal document, not binding on the European Union and not part of the acquis. He noted, however, that the letter did not come into conflict with the decisions taken at the EU Helsinki summit, "which served Greek national interests".

    Tsohatzopoulos on armaments : On his part, Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said it would be simplistic to assume that last week's decision by the EU to accept Turkey as a candidate state would lead to a cut back in Greece's armaments programme.

    "Such an approach would be naive," Mr. Tsohatzopoulos told reporters. "A long time will be needed before we can say that, post-Helsinki, a new framework has been shaped which will lead to real Greek-Turkish rapprochement."

    He said there were no plans to amend the Greek armed forces' five-year multi-million-dollar armaments programme, designed to significantly upgrade the country's defence capability.

    Finally, Athens and Ankara are expected to sign bilateral agreements by mid- January on what has been termed "low-level policy issues", diplomatic sources said yesterday in Athens.

    According to the same sources, the agreements will be signed by Foreign Minister George Papandreou and his Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem, during visits they will conduct in each other's capitals.

    Sources noted that eight such agreements are already drafted and await signitures, while an agreement drafted to avoid double taxation on income earned by companies and individuals operating in both countries is still not finalised.

    Prepared draft agreements include cooperation on tourism, trade, science- technology, the environment, security, investment protection, energy and the merchant marine sectors, according to reports.

    Athens News Agency

    [11] Microsoft funding for 2 Greek universities

    Athens, 17/12/1999 (ANA)

    Microsoft Hellas yesterday announced an agreement with the universities of Athens and Irakleio to develop network software systems for business applications.

    The Greek subsidiary of the massive US-based multi-national created by Bill Gates, will fund programmes in both schools to contribute to the creation of N-tier and Windows DNA (Distributed interNet Applications Architecture).

    The agreement includes funding for seminars, research and scholarships for students involved in the project.

    Athens News Agency

    [12] Tight consumer loans policy expected to continue in 2000

    Athens, 17/12/1999 (ANA)

    Greek banks are expected to limit consumer loans in the next year as well, as the Bank of Greece intends to maintain restrictive measures it has imposed to curb such loans at least until March, Bank of Greece Governor Lukas Papademos said yesterday.

    Addressing a luncheon he hosted for the heads of commercial banks, the central bank also stressed the need for safeguarding the de-escalation of inflation in every way, especially during the crucial period until Greece submits its application for access ion to Economic and Monetary Union (EMU).

    Mr. Papademos said the interest rate policy to be followed by the central bank will depend on the course of inflation in the near future. The signals to be given by the tough nucleus of inflation (structural inflation) over the January-February period will determine decisions to be taken by the Monetary Policy Council. Consequently, in the event that structural inflation does not show a downward trend over this period it will be difficult for the Bank of Greece to be in a position to go ahead with a fur ther cut in its intervention interest rates.

    According to reports, bankers on their part claim that all margins have not been exhausted with recent cuts announced in interest rates. The fact creates expectations for a new round of interest rate decreases from the beginning of the new year.

    Athens News Agency

    [13] SPECIAL OFFER

    Athens, 17/12/1999 (ANA) ANA's bulletin subscribers will be able to receive, as of Jan. 2: a) the Special English Service of news items on-line, as the news is breaking 500,000 dr. annually, and, b) the next day's "Daily Bulletin" on their screens at midnight, with the ability for print-out if desired or simply view on screen 110,000 drachmas annually

    ANA is offering special package discount subscription of 500,000 drachmas for both the above services.

    For further information, please call the marketing dept. at 64.00.560.

    Athens News Agency

    [14] Seminar focused on role of Greek NGOs

    Athens, 17/12/1999 (ANA)

    The Kosovo crisis earlier in the year provided several Greek non-governmental organisations (NGOs) with valuable training in providing aid, although the region is plagued by a lack of advanced planning that is hampering the advent of long-term stability a nd prosperity, speakers at an Institute for International Economic Relations seminar said on Wednesday.

    Up until the mid-1980s, Greece was a country which received aid; it has now become a member of the 'club' of developed nations that are in a position to extend humanitarian, economic and development aid to crisis areas and fields, Athens university prof essor and president of the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy Thanos Veremis said.

    However, Mr. Veremis noted, since the Kosovo problem was no longer on the priority list for the west, the aftermath had been plagued by a lack of planning affecting economic and development prospects. "Since the war, there has been no movement on the economic or investment level and this is a negative factor, as the amounts needed by both Serbia and Kosovo to revert to their pre-war situations comes to some dozens of billions of dollars," Mr. Veremis said.

    The situation is of particular concern to Greece as the future appears grim for such a crucial area, he said. Businesses, roads and the transport hub of the Danube have all been destroyed: this has had an obvious effect on the situation in the region, h e said.

    According to Mr.Veremis, Serbia and Kosovo are regions in which criminality, the black economy and the activity of organised gangs have flourished, furthering complicating any effort at reconstruction, both on the economic level and the social. The inve stment outlook is unclear, complicated by the fact that European policy on the region vis a vis Serbia and Kosovo is perfectly ambiguous.

    The only positive element, speakers said, was that KFOR peacekeeping troops have evolved into a force for stability, in as far as this can be achieved under the present conditions.

    Journalist Tassos Telloglou said that stability in the region was in Greece's interest, as only through stability would there be a fall off in the numbers of people fleeing the area to reach Greece, which could quickly evolve into a haven for young econ omic migrants. Stability in the region would also provide Greece with an opportunity to show what a strong political and economic role it could play, one leading to greater security, he said.

    The overwhelming problem at the moment in Kosovo was the safety of civilans from armed and organised gangs active in the region. According to Mr. Telloglou, there is an entire generation of civilians there under the age of 20 who know nothing but how to fight.

    A culture of marketplace haggling is the only economic activity in Kosovo right now, Mr. Telloglou said. Economic aid has exacerbated this syndrome, which has been helped by state corruption on both the Albanian and Serbian aides. There is no attempt at transparency in taking decisions or in the distribution of resources.

    The international aid reaching the region has no development perspective and the only aid which brings results, speakers said, is that proferred by non-governmental organisations.

    Greece, through its participation in the FOCUS programme, a humanitarian project coordinated by Switzerland, Austria, Russia and Greece has been a part of the few constructive aid efforts. FOCUS has, in a short time, repaired damage to seven schools, distributed 250 tonnes of food, provided vocational training to young people and generally assisted in the raising of living standards of residents.

    Mr. Telloglou, and Theofilos Rozenburg, the president of the Greek branch of Doctors of The World, said that Greece's participation in FOCUS had shown that the country could and should estabilsh a service which can coordinate NGO activities with a view to more effective aid in crisis situations.

    Mr. Rozenburg said that since Greece was in an advantgeous position of being early on to detect the way things were going in potential hotspots, it should be led by the principle of "preventive humanitarian aid," to ensure its effectiveness.

    Athens News Agency

    [15] Athens seminar considers developments in Iran

    Athens, 17/12/1999 (ANA)

    The Athens-based Institute of International Economic Relations (IIER) hosted yet another of its seminars this afternoon - part of the Asia-2000 series - on one of the most significant geo-strategic countries in the wider Mideast region: Iran.

    Entitled "Iran: At the Dawn of the 21st Century," speakers outlined the various political developments in the country of some 68 million residents, as well as touching on the issue of Iran as a regional and international energy market; trilateral cooper ation between Greece, Iran and Armenia, and prospects for improved Greek-Iranian trade relations.

    Speakers included IIER director Haralambos Tsardanidis, Asia-2000 coordinator Plamen Tonchev and representatives from the national economy ministry and the business world.

    According to Mr. Tsardanidis, three very significant international milestones have directly influenced Iran's foreign policy outlook since the death of Islamic revolution leader Ayatollah Khomeini in the late '80s: the disintegration of the Soviet Union , which allowed Tehran to politically penetrate the once isolated central Asian states; Iraq's crushing defeat at the hands of a US-led coalition in the early 1990s following the Baghdad regime's invasion of Kuwait P at the very least a severe short-term weakening of Iran's Arab arch-rival with added significance vis-a-vis Tehran's clout in the Persian Gulf; and finally, commencement of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, which left Iran's leadership almost alone in the solidly anti-Israeli camp, a dev elopment that has increased support for Tehran by radical Arab elements.

    President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos officially visited the predominately Shiite Muslim country in mid- October for talks with that country's leadership, including religious leader Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei.

    A delegation of Greek entrepreneurs and government officials also accompanied Stephanopoulos as talks with the recently formed Greek-Iranian economic forum were also held.

    The Asia-2000 programme is focused on meeting the ever-widening 'information gap' related to the dynamic markets of Asia, as well as to support the development of Asian studies in Greece. Similar seminars will follow focusing on the People's Republic of

    China, Japan, South Korea, India, Southeast Asia etc.

    The Institute was founded by the Greek Association of Societe Anonyme and Ltd. firms in 1993.

    Athens News Agency

    [16] Hyatt share capital increase

    Athens, 17/12/1999 (ANA)

    The Hyatt company's Greek subsidiary, which runs the Thessaloniki casino and adjacent hotel, will increase its share capital by 6.4 billion drachmas.

    Addressing an extraordinary general assembly of shareholders yesterday, board president Giorgos Galanakis announced that the company will issue three new shares for every old one which will be given free to shareholders.

    The company's administration is focusing its interest on new investments in Greece and abroad. Sectors being examined are primarily those of gaming.

    Mr. Galanakis also referred to the company's economic results. A total turnover of 43.7 billion drachmas and pre-tax profits amounting to 11.3 billion drachmas are expected for the current fiscal year. Compared to figures in 1998, turnover will increase 21.7 per cent and pre-tax profits by 80 per cent.

    The casino's turnover for the year 2000 is expected to increase by 4.3 billion drachmas compared to 1999, while the hotel's turnover is expected to amount to 3.3 billion drachmas. Consequently, the company's total turnover will amount to 49.4 billion dr achmas, increasing by 13 per cent compared to 1999. Pre-tax profits for 2000 are expected to increase by 2.3 billion drachmas and amount to 13.6 billion drachmas.

    Athens News Agency

    [17] To the "Daily Bulletin" subscribers

    Athens, 17/12/1999 (ANA) Dear friends, As you are aware, technological developments in the mass media sector are rapid. Today, all the news services are offered online. The "electronic newspaper" supplements, and in many cases replaces, the printed newspaper. Contact via e-mail also affords the ability for direct communication.

    These developments, as many others, have also influenced our own work here at Athens News Agency (ANA), which is adapting all its services to the new technology. In the framework of these changes, the "Daily Bulletin" will - as of Jan. 2, 2000 - be converted from a printed to an electronic medium for our subscribers.

    With this change, our subscribers will: a) receive our news items online, at the moment the news is breaking. b) receive the next day's "Daily Bulletin" on their screens at midnight, with the ability to print it out if they wish or simply view on screen. c) receive the "Bulletin" either via the paid ANA services on the Internet, or via e-mail sent to a subscriber's e-mail address. d) also have the ability, for a small surcharge, to utilise the ANA's English-language data bank, which contains all the news items appearing in the "Daily Bulletin" since 1992.

    We believe that these changes, which correspond with the new function of the international and national news agencies, will satisfy subscribers' needs for immediate and credible information. In order to subscribe to this service, you must have a PC and a modem, or an e-mail address.

    All who wish to continue receiving our services must prepare for these changes which, as stated, will commence on Jan. 2, 2000.

    Takis Mantis, the director of ANA's informatics and telecommunications department, is at your disposal for any technical information on tel: 64.00.560 and 64.00.038.

    I sincerely hope all our subscribers will adapt to these necessary technological changes.

    Andreas Christodoulides

    ANA General Director

    Athens News Agency

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