MIG buys 5 pct of OTE, bears come out in force

Marfin Investment Group’s (MIG) announcement of the acquisition of a more than 5 percent stake in OTE telecom after the close of trading yesterday suprised the Greek market, partly soothing the sting from another sharp fall to near year lows. Shares slid in Europe, as in Asia, in another day of jitters fueled by fears that a crisis in the risky US subprime home loans sector will hit banks and snowball into a global phenomenon. Central bankers appeared to refrain from the emergency operations conducted in recent days to keep short-term lending markets amply liquid. Greek stocks were pounded lower across the board, with banks hardest hit among sectoral indices. The Athens Exchange general index closed 3.54 percent down at 4,523.28 points, the FTSE/ATHEX 20 blue chip index slid 4.01 percent, the FTSE/ATHEX Mid-40 slumped 3.81 percent and the FTSE/ATHEX 80 small-cap index lost 4.21 percent. OPAP was the only blue chip to stay afloat, nudging 0.17 percent up. Postal Savings Bank plunged 6.69 percent, Eurobank slumped 6.75 percent, Bank of Cyprus tumbled 6.20 percent, Alpha Bank dived 5.84 percent and National Bank lost 5.04 percent. Turnover shot up to -952.96 million, of which -257.95 million was in block trades. OTE accounted for -235.11 million and National Bank for -129.92 million.