ECONOMY

Head of Greek bourse to step down

Spyros Capralos said he won’t renew his contract as chairman of the Athens Exchange and will leave his post of chief executive officer of Hellenic Exchanges, the operator of the Athens bourse, at the end of the month. Capralos, aged 55 and chief executive since 2004, said he would also step down as president of the Federation of European Securities Exchanges (FESE), a post he has held since June 2008. Also head of Greece’s Olympic Committee since 2009, Capralos said he had not been asked to resign and dismissed a report that the board wanted to reduce his pay. «I had no pressure to step down; I was not asked to resign. I completed a six-year creative cycle at the exchange and I think the time has come,» he said. Hellenic Exchanges was fully privatized in 2003, with the government selling its holding to seven Greek banks. Currently, the operator is 55 percent-owned by foreign institutional investors, with Greek banks holding 18 percent. During Capralos’s time, Hellenic Exchanges became more efficient, with staff reduced by 40 percent to 269 currently and the technology upgraded. Listed companies raised more than 27 billion euros over the past five years, and membership in the bourse was expanded with 18 remote members. The Athens stock exchange also developed a joint platform with the Cyprus bourse, a Greek-Turkish stock index and started listing exchange-traded funds. Athens failed to put on a better performance than any Western European market this year, as austerity measures imposed by the government hurt profits for companies and fears of a sovereign default battered bank stock prices. The general index has dropped 29 percent in 2010. Capralos said any plans for a capital gains tax on stock transactions was a «necessary evil but this must be done in a way that doesn’t create a competitive disadvantage for our market and our investors.»