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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-11-28

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] ATEbank: 9-month profits significantly down
  • [02] MIG reports 50% hike in 9-month profits
  • [03] Greek stocks end cautiously up
  • [04] Ports, OA debated in Parliament
  • [05] Campaign against tax evasion

  • [01] ATEbank: 9-month profits significantly down

    ATEbank on Friday reported a sharp drop in its nine-month consolidated, after tax and minorities profits to 83.8 million euros, down from 219.1 million euros in the corresponding period last year.

    The bank, in a statement, said the decline was expected due to the negative evaluations from financial transactions, reflecting a negative climate in money markets and significant non-repeating revenues recorded in 2007, totaling 80.5 million euros.

    Interest revenues totaled 873 million euros, up 18.4 pct, with net interest revenue in the third quarter totaling 156.6 million euros, a satisfactory performance compared with the figure of the same period last year (151.9 million euros). Loan portfolio grew 21.3 pct to 18.8 billion euros.

    ATEbank said write-offs totaled 469 million euros in the 12-month period from October 2007 to September 2008.

    Mortgage loans grew by 23.3 pct to 5.9 billion euros in the third quarter, with consumer loans jumping 55.3 pct to 1.1 billion euros. Credit cards grew 49.6 pct to 422.8 million euros, while loans to households grew by 28.5 pct to 7.4 billion euros.

    Loans to small- and medium-sized enterprises grew by 61.6 pct to 1.7 billion euros.

    ATEbank said the rate of non-performing loans (more than 90 days) fell to 6.9 pct in September 2008, from 10.6 pct in September 2007, with the bank raising gradually its provisions for bad loans to 70.3 million euros, from 60.6 million euros last year.

    Saving deposits grew 3.1 pct to 19.8 billion euros, for a ratio between loans and savings at 95.2 pct.

    [02] MIG reports 50% hike in 9-month profits

    Marfin Investment Group on Friday reported a 50-percent increase in its consolidated profits, after-tax and minorities from continuing activities to 190 million euros in the January-September period, up from 127.3 million in the corresponding period last year.

    Pre-tax, interest and amortisation earnings (EBITDA) totaled 298.7 million euros in the nine-month period, up 59.3 pct from last year, while equity capital totaled 4.8 billion euros and cashflow was 1.578 billion euros, or 20 pct of group assets. MIG's internal value was 5.79 euros, rising to 6.17 euros if a capital return was included, slightly down compared with 6.21 euros in the previous quarter. The group said positive results were recorded despite a very difficult economic environment, still affecting international money and capital markets.

    Commenting on the results, MIG vice-chairman, Andreas Vgenopoulos said the current environment created attractive investment opportunities which "we are ready to exploit".

    [03] Greek stocks end cautiously up

    Greek stocks ended moderately higher at the Athens Stock Exchange on Friday. The composite index of the market rose 0.28 pct to end at 1,913.52 points, with turnover remaining a low 160.3 million euros, of which 10.9 million euros were block trades.

    Most sectors moved higher, with the Utilities (4.67 pct), Industrial Products (2.92 pct), Personal/Home Products (2.54 pct) and Oils (1.55 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Commerce (8.10 pct), Telecommunications (2.76 pct), Media (2.04 pct) and Travel (1.56 pct) suffered losses.

    The FTSE 20 index rose 0.56 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 1.28 pct down and the FTSE 80 index eased 0.79 pct. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 121 to 102 with another 42 issues unchanged.

    [04] Ports, OA debated in Parliament

    Abandoning reforms would be an immense strategic mistake, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis warned on Friday, replying to a tabled question in Parliament by Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) deputy Fotis Kouvelis regarding ailing national carrier Olympic Airways (OA) and the country's major ports.

    "We are carrying on with reforms at a more intensive pace. Abandonment of reforms -- and indeed at this stage -- would constitute an immense strategic mistake at the expense of the country. And we will not make that mistake," Karamanlis said.

    Particularly regarding the container port of Piraeus, Karamanlis stressed the contract for a concession of its container terminal to Cosco Pacific Ltd, signed earlier in the week during Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit in Greece, was of decisive importance.

    "It is the biggest and perhaps the only investment of such a magnitude to take place internationally amidst the global financial crisis," Karamanlis stressed.

    The 35-year contract, he added, marked a new chapter in bilateral cooperation with a major economic power, enhances Greece's political standing, strengthens the Greek economy in sectors that are hard-hit in this present juncture, and was a landmark in Greece's evolution into a bridge between East and West, Karamanlis underlined, adding that Greece has only benefits to gain from it.

    "The start that was made with the ports will have continuity and prospects for our country," he said.

    Regarding OA, Karamanlis pointed to European Commission vice-president and Transport Commissioner Antonio Tajani's recent statement, namely, that the Greek government's plan for OA could serve as a model for other European airlines, adding that the benefits to Greek taxpayers would exceed 500 million euros annually.

    "Whoever truly cares about solid policies for social protection assumes the cost for generating the necessary resources," Karamanlis said. "Preservation of the past and seeking a better future do not go hand in hand. The exercise of a real social policy demands, first of all, responsible and bold decisions. Everyone is obliged to make his choices," the premier added.


    Kouvelis said that OA and the ports of Piraeus and Thessaloniki were of strategic importance, and that the country's gateways in the air and sea could not be handed over to private concerns. He criticised the government of selling off a state asset at the ports "without provision of efficient terms of supervision ..." and of allowing the creation of a monopoly when, in other European ports, there are more than two service providers.

    Referring to debt-ridden OA, Kouvelis said the government was going ahead with an "easy solution of privatisation", without keeping in mind the fact that Greece is a major tourism destination; that expatriate Greeks prefer OA to other airlines; that OA has devoted passengers and is one of the safest airlines worldwide.

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of the container terminal at the port of Piraeus, Greece.

    [05] Campaign against tax evasion

    Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis on Friday called for a long-term effort to raise tax consciousness in the country.

    Addressing a meeting of the National Council Against Tax evasion, the Greek minister said that "tax consciousness is also social consciousness", and that tax evasion was a perpetual problem that would take a long time to combat.

    The economy ministry is launching an informational campaign in an effort to combat tax evasion in the country. An effort to combat tax evasion was more necessary today because of the international financial crisis, Alogoskoufis said, adding that tax evasion deprived the public sector from necessary funds to support social policies, economic growth, education and healthcare.


    The main opposition PASOK spokeswoman for economic issues, Louka Katseli, criticised the measures outlined by Alogoskoufis and said that PASOK would not "support his attempt to use the National Council Against Tax Evasion as a communications tool to cover up the inadequacy of his policies".

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of Greek FinMin George Alogoskoufis.

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