By Nicolas Bornozis
The Greek stocks market decreased slightly this week, with the ASE loosing 0.25% closing at 1905.83. Daily average turnover value was formed at €192.15. The FTSE/ASE 20 Index closed lower 0.99% than last week, at 951.85. The FTSE/ASE 40 Index also fell 0.44% closing at 203.64. The FTSE/ASE 80 Index lost 0.19%, closing at 542.17
The Athens Exchanges, Tel-Aviv Stock Exchange and Cyprus Stock Exchange organized this week in Nicosia a press conference for the launching of the joint stock market index the FTSE Mediterranean 100 Index, within the framework of the co-operation between the four participants. The FTSE-MED 100 Index is composed of 100 stocks of the three Exchanges, some of which are also listed on US and other European stock markets. The market capitalization is almost 92 billion euro. By designing this regional index, which will be recognized by the international investment community, the three Exchanges aim at attracting foreign investment in the region, introducing additional derivatives products and providing a useful tool for the evaluation of the regional market. The three Exchanges are also going to invite other Mediterranean Exchanges to participate in the Index. The index’s current constituents are 65 Greek, 35 Israeli and 5 Cypriot equities.
In economic news this week, the National Statistics Service reported that new car sales in Greece recorded a 4% y-o-y slump for the period January-May 2003 while second-hand car sales surged 50.3%. In May, new car sales fell 1.3% and second-hand car sales increased 48.8%. In other economic news, approximately 2.5 years after the introduction of natural gas energy in the country, the Energy Regulatory Authority (ERA) in a recent research pointed out significant delay in the expansion rate of the natural gas to households. The use of natural gas replacing oil products should benefit the domestic economy offering consumers the benefit of choice between the two fuels. Consequently, the State is reportedly in talks for the sale of a 35% equity stake in Greek Natural Gas Company (DEPA) to the Spanish “Gas Natural” after an offer of €260m – close to the initial State target of €300m. Other interested parties are the German “Ruhgras” and the Russian “Gazprom”.
EFG EUROBANK ERGASIAS S.A.
Moody’s Investors Service has upgraded the long-term ratings of EFG Eurobank Ergasias SA (EFG) to A2 from A3 and its Financial Strength Rating to C+ from C. The bank’s Prime-1 short-term ratings remain unchanged. Moody’s explains that the upgrade reflects EFG’s solid market positioning in its domestic market and its strong financial fundamentals. Through organic growth and a number of successfully executed acquisitions, EFG is now the third-largest bank in Greece. Moody’s notes that EFG is among the most professionally managed banks in Greece, and is recognized for offering sophisticated, innovative products and services. These attributes, together with the support from the Latsis family-controlled EFG Bank European Financial Group, represent sources of strength that, in Moody’s view, give the bank an edge over its main competitors.
OTE approved this week the 2002 statutory financial statements of RomTelecom and its fully owned Cosmorom subsidiary. The statutory financial statements for RomTelecom for 2002 reflect a net impairment charge on a consolidated basis of Euro 76 million relating to Cosmorom. OTE’s share (35%) of RomTelecom’s consolidated results for 2002 was included in its unaudited preliminary results.
PHOENIX METROLIFE COMMERCIAL
The new program, as designed by Phoenix Metrolife Commercial and “Dental Protection”, a Health Care System Administration Company, does not involve extensive pre-insurance controls and call limitations, thus providing full dental coverage in the sectors of: primary care (ordinary cases), general dentistry, specialized and esthetic dentistry, at particularly reasonable prices. The new dental care program provides the insured with important coverage free of charge, while there is 20% to 50% coverage with no call limitations regarding the rest of the dental services.
Intralot Group appeared at the 2nd European Lotteries Congress, which took place in Prague last week. The participants of the congress were top executives of the European state lottery organizations and the bigger lottery providers worldwide. The booth of Intralot was at the spotlight, since the company had a prestigious location among the participated providers. The visitors had the opportunity to be informed about the wide range of the technological products of the company, and especially the new terminal of the leading Coronis line, which offers a new approach to wagering, by introducing the player/user concept.
OPAP S.A. announced this week that its board of directors has approved agreements to acquire controlling interests in two sports betting businesses in Cyprus. These transactions represent an important step in the implementation of OPAP’s selective international expansion strategy. OPAP has agreed with Royal Highgate Limited, a Cypriot sports betting company, to acquire 90% of Royal Highgate’s business for CYP5.9 million (approximately €10 million). Royal Highgate, which is listed on the Cyprus Stock Exchange, is engaged in offering fixed odds sport betting games through 80 agents in Cyprus. Separately, OPAP has agreed with Glory Worldwide Holdings Ltd., a Cypriot company, to acquire 55% of the outstanding shares of Glory Leisure Holdings Ltd., a Cypriot sports betting company, for €10 million. Glory Leisure is engaged in offering fixed odds sport betting games through 91 agents in Cyprus.