Welcome, 77 artists, 40 different points of Attica welcomes you by singing Erotokritos an epic romance written at 1713 by Vitsentzos Kornaros

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Greek Prime Minister: ’150 Billion Euros Revenue From Hydrocarbons’

The Greek Prime Minister, Antonis Samaras, during a meeting that took place at the Ministry of Environment Energy and Climate Change, claimed that Greece’s tax revenue from the exploitation of hydrocarbons in a period of 25 years will reach ...


Greece names Police Officer of the Year

13WHAM-TVGreece names Police Officer of the Year13WHAM-TVGreece, N.Y. - Two people will be honored for their outstanding work in Greece Wednesday night. At the annual Greece Police Department Awards Ceremony, Jeff Munson will be honored as the 2013 Officer of the Year. The department said Munson is a a ...


Premier eyes Greece's energy potential

KathimeriniPremier eyes Greece's energy potentialKathimeriniPrime Minister Antonis Samaras declared on Wednesday that Greece could bring in 150 billion euros in much-needed state revenue over the next 30 years through the exploitation of its undersea energy deposits. Samaras, who has consistently underlined ...Greece looks to oil exploration to help pay down debtStockhouseGreece Energy Deposits Could Bring 150 Bill EurosThe Beverly Hills Courierall 36 news articles »


Greece coach Santos set to quit after World Cup

Greece coach Fernando Santos is expected to announce that he will step down from his post after the World Cup finals later this year, Greek media reported late Wednesday. Reports said that the Greek football federation will most likely announce Santos' departure at a press conference scheduled for Thursday or when the Portuguese coach announces his squad for next week's friendly with South Korea ...


Greek dock workers protest against privatising Piraeus port

Hundreds of Greek dock workers staged a protest in Athens Wednesday against plans to sell most of the state's stake in the Piraeus port authority (OLP), which runs Greece's main harbour.


Explore the Greek Cuisine in an Immigrant’s Kitchen

Every New Yorker knows that if you want really good Greek food, you’ve got to go to the borough of Queens. The many exquisite restaurants located there offer a variety of Greek plates, giving the clients a small taste of Greece. But if you ...


Yanukovych Reportedly Hiding in Mount Athos

According to foreign unmanned sources brought by the international edition of the Greek newspaper “Kathimerini” and its correspondent to the Ukrainian capital, former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych is reported to be hiding in Mount Athos in Greece. The local correspondent of the newspaper said that the rumor has not been confirmed at this time, but local media outlets are reporting that fugitive Yanukovych has fled the country for Greece’s semi-autonomous monastic community, located in the Greek northern peninsula of Halkidiki. The former Ukrainian President, who fled Kiev on the night of February 21, following the massive riots held on the streets of the capital city and leading to many deaths, was subsequently impeached by the Ukrainian parliament and relieved of his duties, after televising an address that he would not resign. On February 24, it was announced that Yanukovych has been placed on Ukraine’s most wanted list and that a criminal case has been opened against him, referring the former president to the International Criminal Court in The Hague to answer the charges in connection to the death of 82 protesters in Kiev last week. In the past days, several other reports stated the former Ukrainian president had found a safe haven in Austria, Russia, Belarus, and even the U.A.E.


ND Chooses Greek MEP for Attica Governor Candidacy

New Democracy chose the MEP, Giorgos Koumoutsakos, to be the party’s candidate in the upcoming local elections for the post of Attica’s governor. The decision was taken on Tuesday, February 25,when the Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras met Mr. Koumoutsakos in Strasbourg. The New Democracy’s MEP accepted the proposal of Greece’s coalition government leader, Antonis Samaras, and said to his inner circle that he looks forward for the new challenge that lies ahead of him.  The Greek Prime Minister seems to hold Mr. Koumoutsakos  in very high regard and appreciates his skills and his work as MEP. Giorgos Koumoutsakos was born in Athens in 1961. He is MEP with the Group of the European’s People Party as he was elected to the European Parliament in 2009. Lately, there were many in the interior of New Democracy’s party who believed that the conservative party should support the current Head of the region of Attica, Giannis Sgouros.  However, the Minister of Interior, Giannis Michelakis expressed he was strongly opposed to such a move from New Democracy as he characterized Mr. Sgouros “as an unsuccessful governor.”  Giannis Sgouros was elected as Attica’s governor in 2009 with PASOK’s support and has already expressed his will to be re-elected.


BoG, Troika Likely to Meet Again Next Week

A meeting between Bank of Greece governor, George Provopoulos and the troika to discuss the additional capital needed by Greece ’s four systemic banks ended inconclusively on Wednesday. Sources close to the negotiations told ANA-MPA that negotiations will continue on a technical level while a new meeting with the central bank’s governor was probable next week. Following this development, the publication of a stress test report was postponed for the end of next week.


Greek shipping tycoons threaten to set sail over tax privileges

But while ordinary Greeks have been hit by a barrage of taxes since the debt-stricken nation was forced to accept international aid to avert bankruptcy, the country's famously secretive shipping community is digging in its heels. The new tax law ...


Samaras Says Greece Sitting On $206B Oil, Gas Fields Prospects

Greece's Prime Minister Antonis Samaras says the cash-strapped country could earn up to 150 billion euros ($206 billion) in three decades from offshore oil and gas deposits, an estimate nearly half of Greece's 320 billion-euro debt mountain.

The post Samaras Says Greece Sitting On 6B Oil, Gas Fields Prospects appeared first on The National Herald.


Greek-American Rock Star Lambesis Pleads Guilty to Plotting Wife’s Murder

VISTA, CA – Timothy Lambesis, the Greek-American lead singer of the Grammy Award-nominated heavy metal band As I Lay Dying has pleaded guilty to attempting to hire a hit man to kill his wife. The hit man, an undercover detective, was part of an undercover investigation that began in April after Lambesis allegedly told an […]

The post Greek-American Rock Star Lambesis Pleads Guilty to Plotting Wife’s Murder appeared first on The National Herald.


Greece looks to oil exploration to help pay down debt

Ghana Broadcasting CorporationGreece looks to oil exploration to help pay down debtStockhouseATHENS - Greece's prime minister says the cash-strapped country could earn up to 150 billion euros ($206 billion) in three decades from offshore oil and gas deposits. Antonis Samaras said Wednesday the rough estimate, which is worth nearly half of ...Greece Energy Deposits Could Bring 150 Bill EurosThe Beverly Hills Courierall 34 news articles »


Greek tragedy unfolds for United

Moyes, appointed with Ferguson's full backing last year ... City failed to progress under Roberto Mancini, who was sacked at the end of the campaign, while Arsenal did not find an adequate replacement for their Dutch striker. Chelsea began last season ...


Greece Works Systematically to Combat Fraud and Corruption‏

Greece is making continuous and systematic efforts to combat fraud and corruption, Alternate Finance Minister Christos Staikouras said on Wednesday. Speaking to reporters, during a news conference on the occasion of a meeting of OLAF, the ...


Greek dock workers, farmers protest austerity

Dock workers across Greece walked off the job on Wednesday in a 24-hour strike against the government’s plans to sell a stake in the country’s largest port, the Piraeus Port Authority. Hundreds of striking port workers gathered in the capital Athens ...


Greece's biggest Jewish community takes Germany to court

HaaretzGreece's biggest Jewish community takes Germany to courtHaaretzTHESSALONIKI, Greece — Greece's biggest Jewish community has taken Germany to Europe's top human rights court, seeking the return of a huge ransom paid to Nazi occupiers more than 70 years ago to free thousands of slave laborers — who were still ...


Will Greece and Spain replace the UK as Europe's fastest growers?

Will Greece and Spain replace the UK as Europe's fastest growers?Money MarketingGreece has battled recession for six years although hopes are increasing that the country will return to growth in 2014. The latest official data shows the Greek economy contracted by an annualised 2.6 per cent in fourth quarter of 2013, down from a 3 ...


Greek PM sees 'strong indications' fuel deposits could raise half national debt in revenues

Greece's prime minister says the cash-strapped country could earn up to 150 billion euros ($206 billion) in three decades from offshore oil and gas deposits.


Greek PM lays out potential oil & gas windfall

Greece's prime minister says the cash-strapped country could earn up to 150 billion euros ($206 billion) in three decades from offshore oil and gas deposits. Antonis Samaras said Wednesday the rough estimate, ...


Bloomberg Predicts Record Tourist Arrivals in Greece for 2014

A recent article in Bloomberg predicted that in 2014, a record of tourist arrivals is expected in Greece, with revenues reaching 13 billion euros. According to Andreas Andreadis, president of the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises (SETE), “forecasts show that 2014 will be another record year. Almost all traditional and new markets are showing positive, encouraging signs.” Moreover, estimates of SETE show that by 2021, almost one million people will work in the tourism industry. “The political stability within Greece and the achievement of other national goals, will ensure that Greece will achieve and surpass its goals by 2021,” said Andreakis. The article claims that pre-booking data show that Greece can expect more tourists from Germany and France in 2014 and a 10% rise in visitors from the U.K. More Germans visit Greece than any other nationality, followed by the U.K., the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, France and Russia. According to World Travel and Tourism Council data, tourism represented 16.4% of Greek gross domestic product in 2012. The Greek Prime Minister, Antonis Samaras has described the country’s tourist industry as “the first locomotive that started and began to pull our economy out of a painful six-year recession.”  If Greece manages to reach  a target of 24 million visitors by 2021 it would add 9 percentage points to its GDP while creating 300,000 jobs positions.


Israelis Drop Out of HRADF Ellinikon Competition

The competition concerning the largest privatization in Greece, the Ellinikon International Airport project seems to have only one candidate left as one of the three stakeholders , Israeli company Elbit Cochin, expressed its intention not to proceed any further. Given that London & Regional Properties has requested a four-month extension to submit its binding offer that is scheduled for tomorrow Thursday, February 27, the HRADF competition will go to the Greek company, Lamda Development. Elbit Cochin announced its withdrawal from the competition in a letter addressed to all members of the HRADF Board and the Greek Prime Minister. The letter of withdrawal indicated that the company, in collaboration with its partners and the creditor banks are entirely ready to make an offer, but will not do so, as it considers that the final draft of the contract of sale of the Ellinikon SA shares contains ambiguities and incomplete data. In particular, it does not clarify the tax situation, while it also contains many inconsistencies between what was agreed with the HRADF on a verbal level and to what was stated in the final draft contract. Finally, Elbit claims that there is an absence of the necessary Ministers Council Act, which would bind the Greek government to support the investment in the future.


Greek Life: Phi Mu Greek Auction receives largest turnout to date

The highest bidding item cost $175, a painted canvas for Sigma Phi Epsilon. The next highest item, a table topper for Kappa Sigma, cost the bidder $165. Psi Upsilon’s table topper went for a few dollars less, at $161. Other items at higher prices ...


Report: French fishermen woo Paris Agricultural Fair

France's fishermen weigh anchor at the annual Paris Agricultural Fair and show visitors how to cook their produce just right, while in crisis-hit Greece, many town dwellers are returning to the land. FRANCE 24 reports.


No Olive Tree Movement For Greece

Greece’s divisive Center-Left is in chaos, with a group of academics and intellectuals abandoning an idea to work with the PASOK Socialists.

The post No Olive Tree Movement For Greece appeared first on The National Herald.


Russia Cuts Greek Gas Prices

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has succeeded in convincing Russian President Vladimir Putin to ok a cut in prices Greece pays for natural gas.

The post Russia Cuts Greek Gas Prices appeared first on The National Herald.


Ukraine Says Yanukovych On Mt. Athos

Former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, who fled fighting in Kiev, may be hiding on Greece's Mt. Athos, it was reported.

The post Ukraine Says Yanukovych On Mt. Athos appeared first on The National Herald.


Olive & Olive Oil Museum in Sparti

Olive oil is a staple of the unique Mediterranean diet that has been enjoyed since antiquity, and it is without doubt that Greece produces the finest variety of olives and olive oil on the planet. The Olive & Olive Oil Museum in Sparti celebrates this rich fruit, and when in Sparti, so should you! Admission […]

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Flaws in Man United succession plan become clearer as Moyes fights on following latest setback

by  Associated Press Hamstrung from the start, Moyes fights on at Man U by ROB HARRIS, Associated Press - 26 February 2014 08:33-05:00

LONDON (AP) — In this bleakest of introductions to Manchester United, David Moyes is struggling with the hand dealt to him by the club. A squad that was in need of more than just tinkering when Alex Ferguson retired, has faded as a force and seems incapable of competing with the elite.

The giants of English football lurch to a new low each month as the transition following Ferguson's 26-year reign proves more difficult than the fans or owners could have envisaged. Under Ferguson, seasons were about chasing trophies. Now it's about avoiding further embarrassment, with United out of the domestic cups and sixth in the Premier League, 11 points from the Champions League places.

Needing to lift the trophy in May to return to the Champions League, United's matchup with Olympiakos in the round of 16 seemed like a gift to Moyes from UEFA. But United was insipid in Greece on Tuesday, and bereft of any attacking threat or defensive cohesion in a 2-0 loss.

Thirty years ago pre-Ferguson, United overturned such a deficit against Barcelona to advance in the European Cup Winners' Cup at Old Trafford, but such a feat would seem beyond this group of players, for whom the Theatre of Dreams has become the scene of too many nightmares this season.

"I take responsibility, it's my team," Moyes said at Olympiakos.

The message from within Old Trafford remains that Moyes will be entrusted with leading the club's revival.

How much is Moyes to blame for United's misfortunes? The Scot was chosen to replace his compatriot partly because he was low-maintenance and would not storm in wanting to rip up the squad.

It was in an unusual moment of candor from within the United hierarchy, the day after the title was clinched with four games to spare last April, when this became apparent — just before Moyes was approached to replace Ferguson.

At that point, then-chief executive David Gill knew Ferguson would be retiring within weeks, despite the manager's public denial days earlier. And, although Gill did not let slip Ferguson's secret, what he said in an Associated Press interview indicated that a change might not be too far away, and that the Glazer family didn't want any drastic changes to the team.

Although United would go on to win a 13th Premier League title under Ferguson by 11 points, such rampant success masked the necessity to strengthen an aging squad.

"The quality of the squad, the composition of that squad, means that any new manager coming in will inherit a great squad of players," Gill told the AP on April 23, 2013. "And yes he may, whenever that is ... clearly want to bring in one or two of his own people, new players. But he won't want to change the squad wholesale because (then) he won't be our manager. We've got to be consistent with that and that's what we are planning on."

The comments were eye-catching but set against Ferguson's retirement denial. The succession plan, however, would be implemented rapidly, as Moyes was handed the job — initially secretly — to leave Everton and fill one of the toughest vacancies in football.

Perhaps United did not fully recognize the Ferguson factor in pushing the team beyond its limits, although the club's shareholders had been warned about the dangers of British football's most successful and feared manager hanging up his hairdryer one day.

"Any successor to our current manager may not be as successful as our current manager," United said as it prepared to float on the New York Stock Exchange in 2012. "A downturn in the performance of our first team could adversely affect our ability to attract and retain coaches and players."

As it proved in Moyes' first transfer window. After the audacious pursuit of Barcelona midfielder Cesc Fabregas failed, Marouane Fellaini was the only major summer signing and the recruit from Everton has made little impact during an injury-hit season.

The flaws in planning for the post-Ferguson era have become apparent in recent months. And from within the United boardroom a different message has emerged about this summer's strategy, with vice chairman Ed Woodward, who assumed Gill's responsibilities, conceding the squad does in fact requirement a significant overhaul.

Rather than building from a position of strength, as was possible last summer, the empire must fight back from one of weakness.

"We are not afraid of moving in the market in a way we haven't seen in recent years," Woodward said on a conference call with Wall Street insiders two weeks ago.

Juan Mata was persuaded to join from Chelsea last month in a club-record 31.7 million-pound ($62-million) move. And Wayne Rooney was convinced to sign a new contract in the last week through 2019, a powerful if expensive message to the world that the club can retain talent.

While not challenging for titles, United remains the indisputable commercial champion of English football, with the Glazer family building up a formidable marketing operation. The club expects to generate around 430 million pounds ($718 million) in revenue this season, although such prosperity diminishes with an enduring downturn on the pitch.

The great fear is that the 20-time English champions morph into the next Liverpool, which is on the rise having won the last of its 18 topflight titles in 1990.

The club, though, won't want to be living on past successes for too long, but it's hard to see where the next trophy is coming from.

"United need six top quality players," said outspoken former captain Roy Keane, a TV pundit. "I would think David Moyes has been shocked. When he went into United in the summer he probably looked at the players and was expecting great things.

"Privately he's probably been shocked at the lack of quality that he's working with."


Rob Harris can be followed at

News Topics: Sports, Men's soccer, UEFA Champions League, Soccer, Professional soccer, Men's sports, Events

People, Places and Companies: David Moyes, Alex Ferguson, David Gill, Cesc Fabregas, Marouane Fellaini, Juan Mata, Wayne Rooney, United Kingdom, Barcelona, Western Europe, Europe, Spain

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Suitor for Greece's biggest property sale threatens to pull out

Suitor for Greece's biggest property sale threatens to pull outReutersATHENS Feb 26 (Reuters) - One of the few suitors for Greece's biggest real estate project at the former international airport of Hellenikon threatened on Wednesday to pull out of the race, leaving only two contenders in the sale that has dragged on for ...


Greek 18-Year-Old Accepted in Cambridge University

Nicholas Kateris, an 18-year-old student in Greece spends his time reading, playing tennis and learning about programming. His life would resemble that of his peers if he had not just been accepted to Cambridge University, which he will attend ...


Earthquake of 4.1 in Kozani

An earthquake of magnitude 4.1 on the Richter scale shook the city of Kozani, northern Greece, this morning at 3:42 a.m. According to the Greek Institute of Geodynamics in Athens, the earthquake epicenter was located about 16km southwest of Kozani at a depth of 5km. The European-Mediterranean Seismological Center on the other hand reported a 4.5 magnitude earthquake. So far no injury or damage has been reported. The earthquake brought back memories of the strong earthquake that occurred in Kozani on May 13, 1995 that caused many damages and injuries, as well as of the recent earthquake in the Greek island of Kefalonia, which has almost devastated the island. Kefalonia registered several aftershocks since the major quake on September 9; most of the damages have been recorded in Lixouri, the island’s largest city where many buildings have collapsed and several people were evacuated.


Greece’s Port Workers On Strike

The workers in ports across Greece proceeded with a 24 hour strike today Wednesday, February 26, reacting to the privatization of the Piraeus Port Authority (OLP), the country’s largest port. The Hellenic Federation of Port Workers gathered this morning at the center of Athens and marched towards the Greek Parliament, where the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund presented the terms of the tender for OLP. Port workers, in their official announcement claimed that the Greek government “despite the strong reaction of trade unions, social organizations, and the local and regional authorities, is continuing efforts to divest Piraeus and Thessaloniki Port Authorities as well as other ports.” They described the privatization of Greek ports as a “crime against national economy, prospects for development and the ports’ social role.” The Greek government in 2010 announced a wide privatization program aiming at the leverage of private investment in order to boost the Greek economy, and contribute to the ongoing fiscal consolidation effort. The government’s privatization program included rail and road transports, airports and ports, utilities, gaming and public real estate holdings. According to the original terms of the bailout, Greece should have collected 22 billion euros. However, only 2.6 billion euros  have been raised from asset sales since a European Union-IMF bailout began in 2010.


Industrial Gas Museum in Athens Celebrates First Anniversary

On Sunday, The Industrial Gas Museum celebrated its one year anniversary in an event held at the Athens Technopolis.The museum opened in Athens on January 27 2013, nearly 30 years after the gas industry shut down. The gas industry was founded in 1857 to provide light in public spaces in Athens. It was the first energy plant in Greece; by the end of the 19th century the network gas had been expanded to provide gas to industries and households. The plant’s administration came under the jurisdiction of the city of Athens in 1938, with the Athens Municipality Gas Company officially founded in 1952. The plant provided the Athenians with energy for 130 years before going out of operation permanently in 1984. A few years after the premises shut down, the Ministry of Culture designated a historical monument to the plant, with the prospect of turning it into a museum and recreation area. The gas plant provides characteristic examples of technological and industrial architecture of the 19th century, given that most of the buildings and the facilities, including much of the machinery, remain intact. The repair and restoration of the buildings and the design of the open areas were completed in 2004. By 1999, the Athens Municipality had opened the premises under the name “Technopolis” (art city) for the hosting of cultural and other events. The institution, the first industrial museum in Athens is open to the public daily, from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (source: ana-mpa)


Journalist Theodorakis Sets Up Political Party

Noted Greek TV journalist Stavros Theodorakis said he’s leaving the major network station Mega and the newspaper Ta Nea and giving up his profession to enter politics and create a new European policy to foster a broader Leftist movement. According to, he resigned his posts to discuss with associates and shareholders of whether he will remain on its website. The names of the participants of the new party, to be called To Potami (The River) will be announced at a press conference on March 4, it was reported. The party will not have public gatherings nor put up posters as do traditional parties. “It will be a pro-European, progressive party moving in the broader left stream. It will defend reason and justice,” he was reported as saying. Theodorakis was born in 1963 in the village Drapania of Chania, Crete, Greece, and grew up in western Attica. He started journalism in 1984 and worked for a number of newspapers and radio stations across the political spectrum. From 1985-87 he worked educating gypsies and has published three books. In 20o0, he started the show Protagonists on the former public broadcaster NET, before taking it to Mega TV in 2006.


Greek Cheerleader Pushing MDMA and Cocaine

She was a sort of public relations person for the crime ring, pushing the drugs in big Athens’ clubs. She was working with the 40-year-old man from Kefalari and together they opened many doors to Athens’ high society. Greek police seized ...


United who? Greek media basks in glory after famous victory

United's dwindling hopes of winning silverware this season are dangling by a thread after they produced a turgid display against the Greek champions, who eased to a 2-0 victory in their last-16 first leg encounter on Tuesday. For Olympiakos, unbeaten in ...


Paris Hilton Reads Epicurus

The Ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus was one of the world's first and best analysts of the relationship between money and happiness. He was born a long time ago, in 341 BC, on the island of Samos, a few miles off the coast of modern Turkey. He had a long beard and wrote over three hundred books.


Just In Time: Another Record Greek Tourism Year Looms

Greece's biggest revenue engine - tourism - could again be a life saver for the battered economy with officials expecting a second consecutive year setting records.

The post Just In Time: Another Record Greek Tourism Year Looms appeared first on The National Herald.


FT Insists Greek Banking System Needs 20 Billion Euros

The Financial Times published another article concerning the Greek economy stressing the fact that Greek banks are in need of a 20 billion dollar capital, even though the IMF denied it yesterday and spoke of a 5.5 billion recapitalization.


Football: Greek tragedy for Man Utd

Manchester United fail to escape domestic troubles in Europe as Olympiakos hand out 2-0 defeat in Champions League last 16.


Greek Yields Drop to 4-Year Low, Stocks Rally Amid Troika Talks

Greece’s bonds jumped, sending yields to a four-year low, and stocks climbed on speculation the nation will reach and agreement with international creditors to ensure its bank-recapitalization requirements are manageable. “We see equities ...


Champions League: Meltdown for United in Greece, romp for Dortmund in Russia

The HinduChampions League: Meltdown for United in Greece, romp for Dortmund in RussiaThe HinduManchester United's Champions League future is in doubt after a 2—0 meltdown on Tuesday at Greek champions Olympiakos, in a tense round of 16 first leg game. Earlier on Tuesday, last season's runners-up Borussia Dortmund enjoyed a 4—2 romp at ...and more »


China's attack on yuan speculators risks backfiring

By Pete Sweeney and Kevin Yao

SHANGHAI/BEIJING (Reuters) - China's central bank rattled speculators this week by engineering a sudden fall in the yuan against the dollar, but economists warn that induced downside risk was no substitute for true liberalization in the currency market.

Unless the central bank takes bolder steps toward allowing the market to determine the exchange rate, traders believe the correction could do little more than present speculators with a fresh buying opportunity.

Beijing has committed to letting the market determine the yuan's true value, part of a wider project to encourage international usage of the currency to rival the dollar.

The yuan's orchestrated reversal also has unleashed speculation that the central bank is preparing to widen the currency's daily trading band, currently set at 1 percent either side of a daily midpoint fixed by central bank.

But even if the band is widened, traders doubt whether it can hold the yuan back from strengthening further, given the enduring ability of Chinese assets to attract capital inflows.

Since January 13, the spot yuan has undergone an unprecedented fall of more than 1.5 percent, guided downward by the central bank with the help of major state-owned banks, which traders say were selling off yuan at the central bank's behest.

Wang Jun, senior economist at the China Centre for International Economic Exchanges (CCIEE), a well-connected think-tank in Beijing, told Reuters that the central bank had to deliver a clear message to speculators.

"It needs to tell the market, 'No more one-way rise for the yuan,' and introduce two-way fluctuations in the rate like other major currencies have," Wang said.

The country's foreign exchange regulator attempted to soothe markets on Wednesday afternoon, saying that the adjustment was "normal," resulting from market players independently unwinding their long yuan positions. But most participants believe this unwinding was defensive, triggered by state-owned banks' massive dollar purchases.

As a relatively low-risk, high-yield currency that has gained over 35 percent against the dollar since it was revaluated in 2005, the yuan remains a favorite among international investors.

The Greek debt crisis in early 2012 did provoke a brief swoon that saw the currency lose 1.6 percent in six months, but it began to recover in July 2012 to gain as much as 5.5 percent by mid-January.

In reaction to this inexorable rally, speculators onshore and off built huge long yuan positions on assumption that the bull party would run and run.

Speculative foreign capital inflows appeared to gather pace from the fourth quarter through January, data from the State Administration for Foreign Exchange suggested. Most economists expect the trend to continue this year, unless the yuan enters an extended decline.


The PBOC has attempted to deter yuan bulls in the past, but seldom achieved much success.

Most economists and traders still expect the yuan to appreciate between 2-3 percent this year, even given recent developments.

There is little economic justification for letting the yuan slide. Economists say depreciation would do little to help exporters, for whom the yuan's strength is a minor irritant compared with the explosive rise in labor, material, and rental costs.

GaveKal/Dragonomics research house economists Chen Long and Arthur Kroeber argued in a report titled "No, the Renminbi Is Not Tanking" that the PBOC's short-term goal is to mislead speculators into thinking the era of yuan appreciation is over, panicking them into liquidating long positions at a loss.

"Some observers have leapt to the conclusion that Beijing is spooked by slower economic growth and the recent sharp devaluations by emerging-market competitors, and now wants to drive the currency lower to keep its exports competitive," they wrote. "We don't buy it."


While most agree that widening the band would be a positive incremental step toward further reform, by itself it cannot introduce genuine downside risk so long as the PBOC and its allies at the major state-owned banks continue to meddle.

Indeed, when the PBOC widened the yuan's trading band from 0.5 percent to 1 percent in April 2012 the market confounded expectations by becoming less, rather than more, volatile.

That's because the central bank continued to use the daily midpoint to restrain appreciation, setting it so that the spot rate remained on a tight leash.

In reaction, traders refused to do business anywhere near the midpoint and simply waited for the PBOC to cave in and let the yuan rise again - a bet that has consistently paid off until recently.

"What the PBOC wants to do is inject more volatility in the FX market; band widening seems to be the emerging consensus view on the simplest way to doing that," said the head of FX trading at a European Bank in Hong Kong.

"But that is hardly going to be enough if the market believes the CNY is going to appreciate in the long term," he added. "What is needed is a more market-determined exchange rate."

(Additional reporting by Lu Jianxin in SHANGHAI and Saikat Chatterjee in HONG KONG; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

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Hellenikon Down To One Bidder

Plans to develop Athen's old international airport site Hellenikon - which was supposed to be Europe's biggest urban park - have one bidder left.

The post Hellenikon Down To One Bidder appeared first on The National Herald.


Troika Pushes Greece On Privatization

International lenders are asking Greece to increase the pace of privatizing state enterprises to meet fiscal targets and complete unfinished reforms. The IMF-EU-ECB Troika envoys are visiting Athens to discuss how the government will close a 2.4 ...


Hunting credit, firms look beyond wary EU banks

By Steve Slater

LONDON (Reuters) - When David Armitt needed to refinance loans last year for his 153-year-old manufacturing company in Yorkshire, he found British banks reluctant to lend. So he took the nuclear option.

The finance director in Huddersfield turned instead to San Francisco-based Wells Fargo, borrowing $28 million after putting up as collateral the gearboxes that his firm, David Brown Gear Systems, makes to propel nuclear submarines.

European Union banks have shrunk their loan books by over $5.5 trillion, more than a tenth, since the global crisis of 2007-08, cutting risk on their balance sheets but choking off credit to companies and stalling the region's recovery.

Faced with this retrenchment, businesses have looked elsewhere for alternatives, using asset-based loans and turning to bond markets, private equity firms, insurers, their own suppliers and even crowds of private savers to raise funds.

And although many EU banks deny holding back, blaming weak demand for the decline in credit, such diversification by companies away from bank lending seems here to stay, even once the retrenchment in bank balance sheets comes to an end.

In a region where banks previously accounted for almost two thirds of corporate funding - double the level for their U.S. counterparts - that is a major opportunity for other lenders.

"Companies have latched on to the fact that they need to diversify," said Richard Cranfield, who advises corporate clients on financing at law firm Allen & Overy in London. "I don't think that toothpaste is going to go back in the tube.

Estimating that banks may only be half way through a decade of modification in their business models following the global crash, Cranfield added: "They are still adjusting, still simplifying their structures and getting out of certain businesses and that keeps pressure on ... where they can lend."

David Brown's loan from Wells Fargo takes more work and administration than a typical secured bank credit as it uses harder-to-value assets as a guarantee. Those include the gearboxes it makes for a range of specialist machinery, from submarines and tanks to oil rigs, as well as client invoices.

But Armitt found it overall cheaper and more flexible.

Banks across Europe may say they are "open for business" and deny blame for shrinking credit - lending to euro zone firms fell 2 billion euros in December - but their customers, notably smaller firms, tell a different story.

David Brown, which once owned Aston Martin and whose "DB" marque still appears on the sports cars beloved by James Bond, saw orders for its gearboxes increase by 20 percent in 2013 but met resistance - or indecision - at British banks.

"What was frustrating was the constant messages of 'we're open for business', but there was never clear criteria whether they can or can't do something," said Armitt. "You can sense the hesitancy on whether they can work with you."

So common have these sentiments become among British firms, that parliament in London opened an inquiry this week.


Frustration with European banks is providing opportunities for other types of lender, including private equity firms which more typically buy businesses in order to sell them on again.

"Companies today are much more inclined to look at alternative financing strategies because they have suffered a lot from banks not supporting them through the crisis," said Miguel Rueda, a partner at private equity fund JZCP, which last year set up a joint-venture to lend to corporates in Spain.

Especially for smaller businesses, said Rueda, "This has been a very rough ride."

A major shift in the sources of corporate financing is already evident. Last year, big European firms used syndicated bank loans for around 27 percent of new funding, similar to their U.S. peers, according to Thomson Reuters data. In 2007, loans from bank syndicates provided 62 percent of their funds.

Tradeable bond issues have accounted for two thirds of new funding over the last four years and equity capital 6 percent.

For banks, this is not necessarily bad news. Many will make more money from arranging a bond issue and follow-up work than from a straight loan, where margins have often been razor thin and priced as loss-leading products to win other business.

There has been a flood of mid-sized companies, including from debt-scarred Italy, Greece and Spain, making use of the bond market for the first time.

More than twice as many debut issuers tapped the European high-yield bond market in 2013 than in 2012, and ratings agency S&P said it assigned ratings last year to 175 non-financial companies in western Europe for the first time. They included Italian construction group Salini, Finnish luxury bathroom ceramics maker Sanitec and British clothing retailer New Look.

Italian spectacle maker Marcolin went to the bond market to raise 200 million euros in November and found 95 percent of the paper being bought by foreign investors.

Calling the issue "a very positive experience", finance chief Massimo Stefanello said it financed an acquisition and repaid bank lending: "And it was also a good opportunity to get people in the financial market to know the company."

The bond was slightly more expensive than a bank loan and took three months of preparation but its structure is more flexible and covenants less complex than those on bank lending.

Record low interest rates have also offered companies cheap headline yields. British property firm Grainger, for example, sold a 200 million pound ($333 million) bond paying 5 percent, the lowest ever for a debut sterling high-yield bond.


Though they are the biggest source of non-bank credit, bonds are not for all. Many smaller companies find them costly and cumbersome to arrange. But there are other options.

The European Commission speaks of reviving securitization, discredited by its role in the crash, which involves packaging loans to various borrowers into bonds sold on to investors.

Even bolder, the EU executive is looking at ways to channel household savings into long-term investment, financing small companies, infrastructure and other development.

Some private funds are targeting corporates. JZCP's Rueda helped set up Toro Finance, a vehicle with 400 million euros to lend in Spain: "These companies have loans and significant banking relationships, but the banks are not supporting them in growth," he said. "That's where the opportunity is for funds - you can go in there and lend alongside the banks."

Some funds are also working with banks to share in loans, with the fund taking a riskier tranche and a bank lending a cheaper slice with priority for repayment.

There has also been a boom in online crowd-funding, where people club together to back a project with equity or loans. That global market has doubled in size every year for five years, but remains modest, at about $6.4 billion in 2013.

Big companies are also providing credit to their own corporate customers. Britain's top 35 listed manufacturers provided 16 billion pounds to clients last year, up almost 50 percent from 2008, according to LPM Outsourcing, which provides services to the asset-finance industry.

Some have set up big financing arms for longer-term loans, including U.S. computer maker Dell. It set up a financial services unit in August to offer finance to European customers.

Direct funding has also increased from insurance companies, particularly in France, where companies have traditionally depended on banks to provide some 80 percent of their credit.

"Investments in infrastructure are natural for us," said Henri de Castries, chief executive of French insurer AXA, referring to loans rather than equity stakes. "We study more and more of them, and they will rise progressively."

Banks, meanwhile, will have their work cut out persuading customers they are ready to focus again on lending: "I don't blame them deleveraging," said David Brown's Armitt. "But they are not clear themselves on what they are trying to do."

($1 = 0.6013 British pounds) ($1 = 0.7285 euros)

(Additional reporting by Francesa Landini in Milan, Maya Nikolaeva in Paris and Jonathan Gould in Frankfurt; Editing by Carmel Crimmins and Alastair Macdonald)

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Uninspired, Man United loses 2-0 to Olympiakos

PIRAEUS, Greece (AP) — Manchester United's troubled season took another turn for the worse on Tuesday as David Moyes' side slumped to a 2-0 first leg defeat to Olympiakos in the last 16 of the Champions League.


Fears for Terrorist Attack Against Troika

After the terrorist attack against the headquarters of the governing Nea Dimokratia party in Athens, Greece, the counter-terrorism unit believes that the extremist organization “Group of Popular Rebels” will proceed with an attack against Troika. The Greek Police in collaboration with counter-terrorism units have already installed 30 high-definition cameras in several offices of Greek political parties, ministries and embassies in order to prevent a possible attack. Counter-terrorism suspicions are based on information provided by a man who managed to penetrate criminal groups related to urban guerilla warfare. The guerilla organization has claimed responsibility for the attack against the German ambassador’s residence in Athens, on December 30, 2013. “As we sprayed gunfire at the luxurious home of the German ambassador, besides just thinking of ourselves, we thought of the thousands of Greek people who line up at soup kitchens, the unemployed, those working for 400 euros,” said the organization in their 12,000-word proclamation. They declared that they fight against “the German capitalist machine” and that the attack was a response to the death of Dimitris Christoulas, a pensioner who committed suicide in Athens’ main Syntagma Square in April 2012 due to financial difficulties. The “Group of Popular Rebels” has also claimed a failed rocket attack against Mercedes-Benz offices in Athens.


Election Polls Ban Lifted Because of Internet

The Greek Minister of Interior, Yiannis Michelakis announced his intent on lifting the ban on the publication of opinion polls fifteen days before the elections. During a radio interview, Yiannis Michelakis said that within the next few days, the Greek Ministry of Interior would put to the table a new legislation that will change the way elections take place in Greece before the Members of the European Parliament elections. This legislation will lift the ban that does not allow any publication of opinion polls for fifteen days before the elections take place. “The publication of opinion polls will be allowed until the last Friday before the elections. The same will apply to the elections’ second round. When it was decided to ban the publication of opinion polls, the Internet did not have the momentum it does now. On the eve of the elections, everyone would support what he wanted and as a result there was much confusion among the public. This has to change,” said the Minister of Interior. Michelakis also spoke against the possible support of New Democracy’s, Yiannis Sgouros in his run for governor in the region of Attica. “I will wait to see what the party decides. In my opinion, Sgouros is not a good choice. He will not succeed.”