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Athens News Agency: News in English, 01-01-29
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Athens Bourse-Salomon Smith Barney29/01/2001 20:16:53
The slumping Athens Stock Exchange is likely to fall further in the first quarter the year, but then pick up steam due to the country's healthy economic fundamentals, Schroder Salomon Smith Barney said on Monday.
In a market report for customers, the investment house said the market could well drop below the current 3,000 points due to a sell-off by fund managers investing in emerging markets before Greece's classification as a mature market in May; and to a lack of interest by retail investors.
However in the medium to long term, the outlook for the Athens bourse was healthier due to the economy's positive fundamentals, a drastic decline in interest rates, and macroeconomic equilibrium, the report said.
 Olympic Airways-Loan-ABN Amro29/01/2001 19:21:20
Olympic Airways, the ailing national carrier, has chosen a loan offered by ABN Amro, a Netherlands bank, to help fund its shift to a new international airport for Athens from the existing Hellenikon facility.
The new airport in Spata is due to open in March
ABN Amro's bid was a loan of 67.5 billion drachmas in two tranches with repayment over 12 years and a two-year grace period.
On Wednesday, the deadline for expressions of interest expires in an international privatisation tender for the airline.
 Athens Bourse-Evert29/01/2001 19:04:54
Miltiades Evert, a former leader of the main opposition New Democracy (ND) party,said on Monday that part of the reason for a lasting slump on the Athens Stock Exchange was a 'scandalous' use of procedures for bourse entry and share capital rises.
Evert told a news conference that the dubious share capital rises were held over the past two years and endorsed by the capital markets commission.
He cited a series of decisions by the commission that he claimed led to an unbridled corporate hunt for capital that was unwarranted by the companies' financial performance.
The ND deputy criticised the commission for abolishing restrictions on the amount of capital each firm could seek; easing conditions for bourse entry; and failing to check out companies that repeatedly made false public statements about their investment plans.
He also blasted market entry share prices that he said bore no relation to reality.
Evert presented a table of the prices of 34 companies that in 2000 showed losses ranging between 84 percent and 94 percent of their value, and called for a detailed auditing of the finances of each, and an account of how the capital they raised from the bourse was used.
 Foreign Exchange Rates-Tuesday29/01/2001 18:24:05
Tuesday's buying rates
U.S. dollar 367.702
German mark 172.829
French franc 051.531
Pound sterling 536.208
Irish punt 429.202
Belgian franc 008.379
Luxembourg franc 008.379
Dutch guilder 153.389
Italian lira (100) 017.457
Austrian schilling 024.565
Danish kroner 045.298
Swedish kroner 038.151
Finnish mark 056.852
Spanish peseta 002.032
Portuguese escudo 001.686
Japanese yen (100) 315.480
Swiss franc 221.972
Norwegian kroner 041.247
Cyprus pound 584.306
Canadian dollar 244.510
Australian dollar 199.724
 Weather Forecast-Tuesday29/01/2001 17:24:46
Cloud and rain are forecast throughout the country on Tuesday, turning to storms in the west. Winds southerly, very strong, with gale force winds at sea. In the north, temperatures will range from 7C to 13C; in the Ionian and on the rest of the mainland from 11C to 17C; and in the Aegean from 13C to 19C. Rainy in Athens with temperatures between 13C and 17C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 9C to 13C.
 ECB-foreign exchange29/01/2001 16:47:44
The European Central Bank set its reference euro/dollar rate to 91.93 cents on Monday, from 92.28 cents on Friday, pushing the US dollar/drachma rate to 370.66 drachmas.
The ECB also set the euro/yen rate at 107.15 yen (3.18 drachmas), the euro/sterling at 63.04 pence (540.52 drachmas), the euro/Swiss franc rate at 1.5228 (223.76 drachmas) and the euro/Cyprus pound rate at 0.5785 (589.02 drachmas).
 Connection AEBEE-acquisition29/01/2001 16:42:49
Connection AEBEE on Monday announced the purchase of a 67 percent equity stake in Triangle SA, a company cooperation with Marzotto Group in exclusively distribution Marlboro Classics brand name in Greece.
Marzotto Group is listed on the Milan bourse and ranks among the world's 10 biggest clothing companies.
Triangle expects its 2000 sales to total 2.5 billion drachmas (7.34 million euros) and its pre-tax profits to reach 300 million drachmas (880.410 euros).
 Salomon Smith Barney-ASE29/01/2001 16:36:51
Greece's effort to converge with other EU countries in the next 10 years is undermined by a slow pace of structural reforms and the country's high debt "that limits economic growth rates", Miranda Xafa, a consultant at Salomon Smith Barney said in its weekly analysis for the Athens Stock Exchange.
In her report, Xafa noted once more that Greece's entry in the eurozone "makes it even more imperative to speed up structural reforms and to implement a stricter fiscal policy to counterbalance the impact of a monetary loosening because of EMU participation. Otherwise, the country could face problems with its competitiveness and with higher unemployment."
Xafa said she did not expect the Athens bourse to recover steadily unless the problem with investors' "red codes" was solved. She supported the implementation of margin account trading in the market.
Xafa expects that the US Federal Reserve would cut its interest rates by 50 basis points on Wednesday, but that the European Central Bank would leave its interest rates unchanged the next day.
 Greece-Papantoniou-economy29/01/2001 16:14:32
Greece's National Economy and Finance Minister, Yiannos Papantoniou, on Monday announced thousands public sector hirings in the next few months aiming to strengthen agencies responsible for managing EU funds in the country and to ensure the full absorption of funds.
Speaking with local authorities, during a visit to Epirus, northwestern Greece, Papantoniou said that a Third Community Support Framework was a big growth opportunity for the region and the country in general.
"Projects and programmes for Epirus in the next six years total one trillion drachmas", he said.
 Epiphania-new acquisition29/01/2001 15:38:54
Epiphania on Monday signed a deal to purchase a 50.05 percent equity stake in Leon & Partners Advertising for an undisclosed sum.
The deal is part of a strategy plan approved by the company's shareholders aiming to create a powerful group in communications, technology and advertising.
Leon was founded in 1995 by Petros Leontas, the main shareholder and manager of the company. Its turnover is expected to total 4.2 billion drachmas and profits to reach 305 million drachmas in 2000.
 ASE-close29/01/2001 15:32:13
Equity prices resumed their decline on Monday, unable to maintain a two-day rebound the previous week on the Athens Stock Exchange, with turnover falling to new record lows.
Traders said market prospects remained gloomy as capital inflows have long stopped leaving share prices vulnerable to selling pressure.
The general index ended 0.89 percent lower at 3,071.83 points, off the day's lows of 3,040.83 points. Turnover was a record low 70.49 million euros, or 24.019 billion drachmas.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks ended 1.18 percent lower at 1,778.12 points, and the FTSE/ASE 40 index eased 0.54 percent to 317.74 points.
The parallel market index for smaller capitalisation stocks ended 1.10 percent lower at 248.23 points.
 FM - Sweden - Intolerance forum29/01/2001 15:26:43
STOCKHOLM (ANA - G. Angelopoulos) Foreign Minister George Papandreou will be representing Greece at a two-day international forum against intolerance that began on Monday in Sweden, where he will join 450 other politicians and experts from 50 countries in a debate on how to combat rising racism and anti-democratic trends.
Apart from Papandreou, Greece is also being represented by a legal expert, the education ministry's special secretary for intercultural education and the president of the Greek section of the European Immigration Forum.
The international "Intolerance Forum" is being organised by host-country Sweden to call attention to a rising tide of hostility toward religious and ethnic minorities, immigrants, refugees and homosexuals. A forum announcement states that ultra-nationalist parties and xenophobic attitudes are gaining ground in many countries, while racist propaganda is being propagated with increasing effectiveness through media such as the Internet and "white power" music.
Papandreou is to address the forum on Tuesday on "Legislative Tools and Policies against Xenophobia and Racism in Greece."
 Greece - Turkey - FM to visit Ankara29/01/2001 14:39:33
The foreign ministry confirmed on Monday that Foreign Minister George Papandreou would be visiting Ankara, probably some time in March.
According to ministry spokesman Panagiotis Beglitis, the visit and its agenda were discussed during a meeting between Papandreou and Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz in Davos, Switzerland on Sunday.
Beglitis also announced that Papandreou would be visiting Cyprus within February and that Greece and Turkey were seeking a political formula for an agreement to avoid double taxation.
 Epiphania-share capital increase29/01/2001 14:36:29
An Epiphania general shareholders' meeting on Monday approved a share capital increase plan, including a rights' issue and the capitalisation of reserves.
Under the plan the company will offer two free shares for every 10 old ones to its shareholders and will issue 2,961,697 new shares of a nominal value of 100 drachmas each and an offered price of 1,312 drachmas per share.
Epiphania said the new money will be used to finance the takeovers of Mass, Leon and Stefi companies.
Epiphania will be renamed to Marfin COMM Information Services Holdings following a decision by a previous general shareholders' meeting.
The company expects its turnover to reach 20 billion drachmas last year.
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