Bourse and ministry officials will try to sell the ASE to foreign investors

Athens Stock Exchange President Panayiotis Alexakis and General Secretary of the Economy and Finance Ministry Giorgos Zannias will have a difficult task in London on Thursday. They will try to convince skeptical investors that it is still worth investing on the ASE, despite the fact that the market has been in almost constant decline for over three years, turnover is languishing at low levels and yields are far behind those of other mature eurozone markets. Alexakis and Zannias met yesterday at the Economy Ministry to finalize their presentation strategy. The group of investors they will confront has been assembled by UBS, Credit Suisse First Boston and Schroder Salomon Smith Barney. The two will argue that no mature market, except perhaps Paris and New York, is better regulated or monitored. The effort begun by the Capital Market Commission, the market watchdog, in 2000, is about to be completed. Alexakis and Zannias will also emphasize the stability that has been achieved by Greece’s entering the eurozone in January 2001. They will point out that the Greek economy is growing at a healthy pace (an estimated 3.8 percent in 2002), compared to an almost stagnant eurozone which is expected to grow 0.8 percent in 2002. By the end of this year, the last measures drawn up by the Capital Market Commission will be implemented. These include mandatory share auctions, in case a share is found to have both low trade volume and high volatility, a telltale sign of manipulation. In that case, the stock will be withdrawn from continuous trading and will be traded only through auction. Second, the central market maker will be introduced in order to ensure lower volatility and encourage long-term investment. The market maker will be involved in all aspects of capital markets – stocks, derivatives and securities.