ECONOMY

Serious problems downgrade credibility of Athens bourse

The Athens bourse received a huge blow to its credibility with yesterday’s stoppage of trading for almost four hours due to technical problems created by two different causes. The first cause for the interruption (from 10.52 a.m. to 2.45 p.m.) concerned a blockade of the main building of the Bank of Greece by its employees, which shut down the operation of the TARGET system, while state orders and interbank transfers could not be executed. Without warning, employees surrounded the main Bank of Greece building in the center of Athens, obstructing entry. «Workers are opposed to the pension changes, in particular the merging of social security funds,» a Bank of Greece official said. «We do not know when operations will return to normal. The action came as a surprise, this is the reason we were not ready with emergency staff,» the official, who declined to be named, said at the time of the protest. The problem was that there could be no transactions in the electronic secondary market of securities, also causing problems on the European bond-trading system. Athens Exchange President Spyros Kapralos stated yesterday that he would not allow the session to begin today if the blockade continues. He told Kathimerini, «If such action carries on, in the end investors will never been seen again on the local bourse.» The second cause of problems was a new technical failure that emerged, resulting in users-members of the Athens bourse having no access to transactions, after 80 percent of members switched on their screens, causing the system to crash, creating a serious problem for the continuation of the session. Trading only resumed with just over two hours left on the clock. Problems with the so-called «Oasis» information technology program have been observed since the stock market’s move from central Athens to Votanikos last summer. (Kathimerini, Reuters)