ECONOMY

Amendments to help ASE sail after shipowning companies

After a flurry of meetings and proposals by representatives of shipowning companies and their associations, the Merchant Marine Ministry has tabled in Parliament a number of amendments to Law 2843/2000 regarding the prerequisites for their listing on the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE) which are expected to be voted shortly, ASE Chairman Panagiotis Alexakis said in Thessaloniki on Wednesday. Speaking at a meeting of stockbrokers, he expressed confidence that the new provisions will attract strong interest from ocean-going firms. It was Alexakis’s second meeting in the last two months with stockbrokers in Thessaloniki, whom he briefed on market developments after September 11. He said the crisis had had a significant impact on the Greek stock market, which was already going through a difficult period. The recent developments have led the administration of ASE to provisionally change the trading hours schedule which, as of February 2002, will be permanently set between 11a.m. and 5.15p.m. He said the Greek capital market needed to acquire depth and liquidity and urged his audience to cultivate the need for long-term placements among investors. In a change of subject, he said international partnerships were not an end in themselves for ASE, despite continuous contacts with the Euronext alliance and the bourses of London, Milan and Madrid. The foremost aim of ASE, which is considering the possibility of merging with the Athens Derivatives Exchange in future, is to be autonomous in the Mediterranean region, he said. Alexakis repeated that talks were under way with the Istanbul Stock Exchange with a view to finding a modus vivendi of cooperation through which Greek and Turkish investors will be able to engage in transactions in a pool of specific shares of both bourses in real time. Thessaloniki Stock Market Center (TSMC) officials said emphasis should be given to improving investor psychology that will make them return to markets. TSMC is currently considering 16 files of companies that have applied for listing. The growth of small businesses has to be encouraged as part of sweeping reforms to make the investment climate more attractive, donors said. A crackdown on the organized crime that is endemic to the region is an essential step, Patten added.