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Athens News Agency: News in English, 06-08-01

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] Gov't accepts Credit Agricole's offer for Emporiki Bank stock
  • [02] Bakoyannis satisfied by EU decision on Lebanon crisis

  • [01] Gov't accepts Credit Agricole's offer for Emporiki Bank stock

    The government said on Tuesday that it had accepted an offer from Credit Agricole of France for the acquisition of 11% of stock the state holds in Athens-quoted Emporiki Bank as part of a public offer.

    "The inner cabinet evaluated Credit Agricole's revised offer, which was a great improvement in terms of price versus the original proposal. This is an offer that truly reflects the value of Emporiki Bank," Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis told reporters after the meeting.

    Acceptance of the offer was in line with a recommendation by the government's consultants in the sale, and by Emporiki's board, which on Monday backed the deal in a statement to bourse authorities. The French bank is already a strategic investor in Emporiki.

    According to management, the new ΤέλοςφόρμαςΑρχήφόρμαςprice of 25.00 euros per share at 1.5 euros higher than initially offered was favourable as it lay in the middle of the fair price range and included a premium of 8.7% against the range's lower end, and a premium of 2.25% against the stock's average market price for the month before announcement of the tender offer.

    "The inner cabinet's decision was taken on the basis of the public interest, spurring competitiveness in the banking sector, and boosting competiveness and an outward-looking approach in the national economy," Alogoskoufis noted.

    "Credit Agricole's offer is a sign of confidence in reform being undertaken and in the outlook for the Greek economy, the Greek banking system, and Emporiki Bank itself," he said.

    The tender process had followed Greek and European Union law on public offers, ensuring transparency, the minister added.

    Parliamentary opposition parties have vigorously opposed the sale.

    The Panhellenic Socialist Movement has stated that Credit Agricole's improved offer was below a fair value range stated by Emporiki's privatisation consultant of 28.4-31.5 euros per share, and that any sale would damage the state and other shareholders.

    According to the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology, the first to suffer from the likely sale of Emporiki to Credit Agricole was a subsidiary, Hellenic Fertilizers Industry, which would be downsized and then sold.

    [02] Bakoyannis satisfied by EU decision on Lebanon crisis

    Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on Tuesday expressed satisfaction over a political agreement reached in Brussels by European Union foreign ministers on the situation in Lebanon and the perspectives of a solution to the current Middle East crisis.

    "The European Union has today in front of it a double challenge to which it responded with success. On the one hand it maintained its political cohesion while on the other, it has sent a clear message in favour of the cessation of hostilities paving in parallel the next steps," Bakoyannis told reporters at the end of an emergency meeting of the 25-nation EU.

    The Greek foreign minister underlined that Tuesday's decision "satisfies Greek diplomacy to the extent that it is on the same wavelength with the five-point proposal that Athens has recently submitted."

    "The 25 have taken a position in favour of the cessation of hostilities in the Middle East so as the UN Security Council be able afterwards to take the necessary decisions, starting with the deployment of an international military force in the region," Bakoyannis explained.

    On this perspective, the foreign minister clarified that the international peacekeeping force would not be a NATO force, it would not be deployed in a war zone and that the cessation of hostilities from both sides was an indispensable precondition in order for it to have the UN Security Council's approval.

    Greece, Bakoyannis said, wants the UN Security Council to convene as soon as possible and that in "general terms agreed with the proposal submitted recently by France."

    "The fact that after today's (Tuesday's) meeting, the EU will present itself with a single voice in the Security Council constitutes an extremely positive development," the Greek foreign minister added.

    Referring to the Middle East in general, Bakoyannis underlined that a necessary precondition for a comprehensive handling of existing problems was the solution of the Palestinian issue, indicating that the situation in the Gaza Strip was continuously deteriorating.

    She also underlined that all involved parties, including Syria and Iran, should participate in efforts to resolve the Middle East crisis, and expressed satisfaction on the fact that EU High Commissioner on Foreign Policy Javier Solana was ordered on Tuesday by the Council to begin contacts with all interested parties in the region including Damascus and Tehran.

    Referring to a possible dispatch of an international military force to Lebanon, the foreign minister said that it should be the broadest possible and not only be "Christian" but also include as many Muslim and Arab countries as possible.


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