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Athens News Agency: News in English, 01-01-30
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Derivatives Market-Close30/01/2001 20:42:24
Equity futures traded on the Athens Derivatives Exchange finished higher on Tuesday, in line with the bourse indices on which they are based, traders said.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index closed 3.09 percent up, and the FTSE/ASE 40 ended 3.79 percent higher.
Turnover was 57.9 million euros on 7,833 contracts traded, the dealers said.
 Secondary Bond Market-Close30/01/2001 20:42:13
Bond prices in the domestic secondary market on Tuesday finished slightly higher in moderate trade with interest focusing on 15-year paper, dealers said.
The new Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 5.39 percent, the same as a day earlier.
The yield spread over German bunds was 58 basis points from 54 basis points in the session before.
Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totalled 530 million euros (about 180.5 billion drachmas) from 870 million euros (around 297 billion drachmas) in the trading day before.
Buy orders accounted for around 65 percent of turnover.
 VAT-Internet-Banks-Payment30/01/2001 20:32:17
Companies and members of the public now have the right to complete their Value Added Tax (VAT) transactions with the tax department through the internet, the finance ministry said in a statement.
Under a decision signed on Tuesday, forms for VAT payments may be sent to the tax authorities via the internt, accompanied by a bank order for direct deposit of the amount into a tax office account, the statement said.
At present, individuals or companies who make VAT payments to the ministry have to take a form and cash or a cheque to their local tax office, often queuing for hours.
 Capital Markets Commission-Evert-Reply30/01/2001 19:31:46
The Capital Markets Commission on Tuesday rejected allegations by Miltiades Evert, a former leader of the main opposition New Democracy (ND) party, that it was culpable of mismanagement that contributed to a lasting slump on the Athens Stock Exchange.
Without naming Evert in its statement, the commission said that it had strictly adhered to the law on entry requirements for new listings on the Athens bourse, and for share capital rises by firms already quoted.
Evert had told a news conference on Monday that part of the reason for the market's decline was a 'scandalous' use of procedures for bourse entry and share capital rises.
He said that dubious share capital rises were held over the past 16 months that were endorsed by the capital markets commission, citing a series of decisions he claimed had 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.
The capital markets commission rejected the argument, saying that entry requirements to the bourse had been made tougher with a rise in the minimum shareholders' equity a company had to demonstrate it possessed.
Evert also blasted market entry share prices that he said bore no relation to reality. The commission countered by saying that the setting of entry prices was in the hands of a firm's underwriters, and it had no right to intervene.
Evert presented a table of the prices of 34 stocks belonging to 28 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 had been used.
The commission said that the shares Evert named represented only 4.5 percent of the Athens bourse's capitalisation on January 3, 2000, and only 1.0 percent on January 3, 2001.
In addition, none of the companies whose stocks were cited appeared in the bourse's general index, or in the FTSE/ASE 20 or FTSE/ASE 40 indexes.
Finally, only one of the firms Evert cited had held a share capital increase in a public offer between January 1, 1999 and December 31, 2000, while 13 had had boosted their share capital on behalf of existing shareholders or to abolish preference rights.
Of a total of 189 billion drachmas the 13 companies raised, 167 billion drachmas, or 88 percent of the amount, had been allocated by September 30, 2000, the commission added.
 Florida runaway - Internet - Greece30/01/2001 19:11:25
A missing teenage girl from Florida, apparently lured to Greece by a 35-year-old man she met through the Internet, is believed to be in Athens, authorities said on Tuesday.
Greek police announced that 15-year-old Lindsey Erin Shamrock -- reported as missing from the township of Mulberry, south of Tampa, since late August entered Greece in mid-September by using a 17-year-old friends passport.
Authorities in Polk County, Florida, have already issued an arrest warrant for Franz-Konstantin Baehring, a German man who resides in Thessaloniki, northern Greece, on charges of interfering with parental custody.
A search of Baehrings revealed that he left for Athens several days ago, while Shamrock is believed to have sent e-mails from an ?Internet cafe? in the Greek capital recently.
 Greece - State Dept. - Protest30/01/2001 18:50:07
The Greek government dismissed a verbal demarche by the State Department on Tuesday, issued to Athens envoy in the US capital, regarding statements the Parliament president made last week over Washingtons stance towards terrorism.
In Athens, the acting government spokesman said Greece's ambassador to Washington Alexandros Filon told a State Department official that the Greek government does not comment on statements by the Parliament president.
 Foreign Exchange Rates-Wednesday30/01/2001 18:32:59
Wednesday's buying rates
U.S. dollar 367.544
German mark 172.829
French franc 051.531
Pound sterling 536.715
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 045.306
Swedish kroner 038.234
Finnish mark 056.852
Spanish peseta 002.032
Portuguese escudo 001.686
Japanese yen (100) 314.780
Swiss franc 222.320
Norwegian kroner 041.290
Cyprus pound 584.236
Canadian dollar 244.791
Australian dollar 200.229
 ND - censure motion30/01/2001 18:22:34
Main opposition New Democracy said it would bring a censure motion against National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou when Parliament opened for its evening session on Tuesday, over the extended slump of the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE).
ND spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said that ND had asked for measures to reverse the ASE's decline, and that all ND section heads had agreed with the censure motion.
Roussopoulos also quoted statements by Prime Minister Costas Simitis, Papantoniou and Environment Minister Costas Laliotis regarding the bourse, particularly prior to the April 9 elections, to support ND's arguments that ruling PASOK was collectively responsible for luring retail investors into buying shares that would later plummet to a fraction of their purchase price through their over-optimistic, upbeat forecasts.
 Weather Forecast-Wednesday30/01/2001 17:26:02
Cloud, rain and storms are forecast throughout the country on Wednesday. Snow will fall on high ground in the north from the evening. Winds south-southwesterly, strong to very strong, turning gale force in the Aegean. In the north, temperatures will range from 6C to 12C; in the Ionian and on the rest of the mainland from 11C to 15C; and in the Aegean from 13C to 17C. Rainy and stormy in Athens with temperatures between 12C and 15C. Rainy in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 9C to 12C.
 Greece-banks-savings safety30/01/2001 16:49:38
All savings deposited in legally operated bank in Greece are fully guaranteed, Hellenic Bank Association said on Tuesday, in an effort to reassure customers following recent reports of cases of illegal bank transactions in the country.
The Association, however, urged bank customers to be extremely careful and to avoid financial transactions held outside the banking system.
In a statement released on Tuesday, the Association reassured that all savings and other assets entrusted to legally operating banks in Greece were fully guaranteed along with the safety and the transparency of banking transactions.
 ECB-foreign exchange30/01/2001 16:39:57
The European Central Bank set its reference euro/dollar rate at 91.97 cents on Tuesday, almost unchanged from Monday's 91.93 cents, maintaining the US dollar/drachma rate at 370.50 drachmas.
The ECB also set the euro/yen rate at 107.38 yen (3.17 drachmas), the euro/sterling at 62.98 pence (541.04 drachmas), the euro/Swiss franc at 1.5204 francs and the euro/Cyprus pound rate at 57.85 cents (589.02 drachmas).
 Grigoris Snacks-acquisition30/01/2001 16:35:28
Grigoris Snacks on Tuesday announced the signing of a protocol agreement for its merger with Neon Restaurants SA following agreement between the two companies' main shareholders and representatives.
Under the deal, Grigoris Snacks will absorb Neon Restaurants, raising its equity capital to 11 billion drachmas (32.281 million euros).
Grigoris Snacks expects its annual turnover to exceed 12 billion drachmas (35.216 million euros) and its pre-tax profits to surpass 1.8 billion drachmas (5.282 million euros) following completion of the deal.
The agreement also envisages the issuance of 1,900,000 shares to be distributed among Neon Restaurants' shareholders, raising its total share number to 7,640,580.
Sanyo Hellas Holding, owner of a 34 percent stake in Neon Restaurants SA, will acquire a 10 percent stake in Grigoris Snacks following the deal.
 Novabank-expansion30/01/2001 16:24:40
BCP, Portugal's largest commercial bank, plans to expand in foreign markets through Novabank, a joint venture launched in Greece in partnership with Interamerican Group.
BCP's chairman, Jorje Jardim Goncalves, told Reuters agency that the bank was considering several opportunities and possibilities to expand its activities in the years 2001 and 2002.
Goncalves said he expected the bank's profitability from partnerships abroad, like Novabank, would increase by 20 to 30 percent in the next two to three years.
Novabank currently operates a network of 48 branches and plans to open 42 more branches around Greece this year.
 Greece-franchising-survey30/01/2001 16:15:13
The franchising business grew steadily in the last three years in Greece, an ICAP survey said on Tuesday.
The report said that franchising businesses totalled 247 currently, from 200 in 1998, an increase of 23.5 percent, leading to optimistic forecasts for the future of the sector.
Commerce accounted for 43.9 percent of the total franchising business, manufacturing accounted for 29.3 percent and other services for the remaining 26.8 percent.
A 63 percent of Greek franchising businesses begun their operation after 1995, the report said.
ICAP's survey reveals that 96.3 percent of businesses will seek to raise their network in the near future, 54.8 percent of them said they would implement their expansion plans through franchising, 2.7 percent of them through their own means and 42.5 percent said they would use both ways.
A total of 27.9 percent of franchising businesses said they faced problems in finding the right partners and funding, while one in four said they faced no particular problems.
The survey was conducted in January on 82 franchising business around the country.
 URGENT - N. Greece general power failure30/01/2001 16:03:10
A sudden and unexplained power blackout struck nearly all of northern Greece on Tuesday afternoon, extending from Thrace to central and eastern Macedonia, including the northern Greek port city of Thessaloniki.
According to the Public Power Corporation's (DEH) northern Greece headquarters, power was gradually returning to the region after 3:00 p.m. local time and had been fully restored in Halkidiki.
The electricity supply had yet to be restored to Thessaloniki and the surrounding regions, however, as well as the prefectures of Kilkis, Serres, Kavala, Drama, Xanthi, Rodopi and Evros.
Beginning at around 2:10 p.m. for as yet unknown reasons, the power failure caused traffic chaos in northern Greek towns and cities, while hundreds of people were trapped inside lifts and switchboards at several state services ceased operating.
 ASE-close30/01/2001 15:42:57
Equity prices rebounded strongly on Tuesday pushing the general index above the 3,100 level, following a seven-day flirt with the 3,000-point support level on the Athens Stock Exchange.
Traders said buyers reappeared in the market the day after the Greek market recorded its lowest turnover in the last three years.
A report by Salomon Smith Barney that the market's P/E ratio would fall to 14.2 this year, a level particularily attractive compared with other European markets, also contributed in the creation of a positive climate in the market.
The general index ended 3.12 percent higher at 3,139.70 points, near its day's highs, with turnover an improved 129.153 million euros, or 44.009 billion drachmas.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks ended 3.08 percent higher at 1,833.04 points, and the FTSE/ASE 40 index jumped 3.79 percent to 329.79 points.
The parallel market index for smaller capitalisation stocks ended 3.66 percent up at 257.32 points.
 Papantoniou - ND - no confidence motion30/01/2001 15:41:35
A no-confidence motion against National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou is to be tabled in Parliament on Tuesday by main opposition New Democracy, prompted by the poor performance of the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE).
A proposal by ND leader Costas Karamanlis was apparently accepted by a meeting of ND section heads on Tuesday morning, and the party is now collecting signatures in order to table the motion.
According to Parliament rules, 50 signatures are required and a debate must ensue within 48 hours. The debate lasts for three days, after which a vote is held.
 Vionet SA-Micromuse Inc-deal30/01/2001 15:22:54
Vionet SA, a Greek integrated solutions and internet services company, on Tuesday announced the signing of an exclusive dealership agreement with Micromuse Inc, a US software company listed on the Nasdaq exchange.
Under the deal, Vionet will distribute Micromuse's Netcool Suite products in the Greek market.
Micromuse is one of the most successful manufacturers of software in the communications sector, and was among the 25 bigger percentage gainers last year in the US market, according to Wall Street Journal.
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