Debt-Crushed Greek Electric Utility Could Be Lights Out

ATHENS – Greece’s electric utility the Public Power Corporation is on the verge of collapse and needs 300 million euros ($339.21 million) to avoid clauses kicking in that would call in loans that are due.

With the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA having been lenient in letting people have big discounts and not getting their power turned off, PPC’s situation has worsened, especially after the company and Energy Minister Giorgos Stathakis ignored recommendations from the McKinsey consulting company to streamline operations, said Kathimerini.

At a recent meeting Chief Financial Officer Alexandra Konida informed PPC’s management about the negative financial results in the year’s first quarter, doubting whether obligations could be met to suppliers, contractors and market entities after  August, the paper said.

Konida reportedly said unless the company’s finances improve that it would need at least 600 million euros ($678.42 million) in the second quarter to keep going, with no word on what would happen otherwise.

PPC in 2018 lost 903.8 million euros ($1.021 billion) and the situation got worse in the first quarter that showed losses of 254 million euros ($287.2 million) and negative earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) of 80 million euros ($90.46 million) the report added.

With July 7 snap elections little more than two weeks away, PPC’s management was said to be scrambling to find ways to improve the sinking revenue picture to stave off having to make immediate loan payments to banks and take care of suppliers, who otherwise could also force an immediate call on the notes.

Turkey Launches New Gas Drillship amid Tensions with Cyprus

ISTANBUL (AP) — Turkey is launching a second drillship that it says will drill for gas off neighboring Cyprus despite European Union warnings to refrain from such illegal actions that could incur sanctions against Ankara.

Turkish Energy Minister Fatih Donmez was due aboard the Yavuz on Wednesday as part of a ceremony to launch the 230-meter (750-foot) vessel that Turkish officials say can drill to a maximum depth of 12,000 meters (40,000 feet).

Another Turkish drillship, the Fatih, is already drilling 40 miles off Cyprus’ west coast in what the Cypriot government condemned as a violation of international law and its sovereign rights.

EU leaders meeting in Brussels are mulling possible actions against Turkey, which insists it’s only defending its rights and those of breakaway Turkish Cypriots to the area’s energy reserves.

(AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
(AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
(AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
(AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
(AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

Sarri: Becoming Juventus Coach Is A ‘Crowning Achievement’ (Video)

TURIN, Italy — With his attack-minded 4-3-3 formation, new Juventus coach Maurizio Sarri foresees Cristiano Ronaldo setting more scoring records.

Sarri was presented Thursday after signing a three-year contract with the club that has won Serie A for the last eight seasons.

Sarri called the Juventus job the “crowning achievement of a long and difficult career.”

“I’ve taken a long road to get here, from Serie C2 to B, A, Premier League and now Juventus. It’s special to be here. It’s the best squad in Italy,” Sarri said. “I’m coming from Chelsea, which has an inferior history to that of Juventus. It’s another step forward for me.

“Coaching Ronaldo is also an escalation. I coached great players at Chelsea but with him it’s the best in the world. He already holds all of the records you can have in world football but I would like help him break some more records.”

� LIVE | Maurizio Sarri's first press conference as Juventus manager �

🔴 LIVE | Maurizio Sarri speaks for the first time as Bianconeri boss from Allianz Stadium.

Posted by Juventus on Thursday, June 20, 2019

The 34-year-old Ronaldo scored 21 goals in his first Serie A season at Juventus. His single-season record is 48 goals in the Spanish league for Real Madrid in 2014-15.

Sarri said that he left Chelsea after only one season because he “felt a need to return to Italy.”

He succeeds Massimiliano Allegri, who guided Juventus to five straight Italian titles but was unable to bring home the most desired trophy — the Champions League — despite two runner-up finishes in the top European competition.

Sarri reportedly has a massive bonus in his contract if he leads Juventus to the elusive European title.

“I’ve never seen a club so determined to hire a coach,” Sarri said. “That convinced me right away.”

Sarri struggled with criticism upon his arrival at Chelsea but then led the London club to the Europa League title.

“I’ve always had the fans skeptical at the start. I come from a different breed and it’s fair that there’s this skepticism,” Sarri said. “There’s only one way to get through that and that’s to win. We’ve got to go out there onto the pitch to enjoy ourselves and put on a show.”

Athens and Nicosia, Welcome to Geneva

The road to negotiations is often paved with a certain amount of optimism and sometimes pleasantly lined with welcoming trees and affording lovely vistas. The exits, however, are usually slippery and often treacherous, as slick and combustible…as oil and natural gas.

The Turkish Energy Minister, in his statement to the Anadolu news agency, claimed that Turkish drilling has begun and has already reached 3,000 meters in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone.

And while bad things – and worse – are happening, the Greek Prime Minister and his Minister of Defense reassure us that we have nothing to fear, while the President of Cyprus expresses…optimism.

But the only ones who have real reasons to be optimistic are the Turks, who are already beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel.

What is it that the Turks really want?

What they are demanding is (ignoring international law) to exploit the energy wealth that is in the territorial waters of Cyprus, and of Greece – beginning with the latter’s easternmost island of Kastelorizo.

How do they seek to achieve these goals?

There are two ways: one course entails threats or an actual conflict with Greece and Cyprus with the hope – on their side – of emerging the winners.

The second way, and the most painless, is to achieve what they are demanding by peaceful means, which still includes threats of violence. And Turkish officials, from the President of the country to the Prime Minister of the pseudo-state on occupied Cyprus, are very clear: “Either we also exploit the natural gas, or nobody exploits it.”

“And if you want,” they are signaling, “test us.”

Furthermore, they state, “When we say peacefully, of course, we mean negotiations.”

In other words, they are “inviting us” to recognize their “just” claims at the official negotiating table.

Of course, our allies do not want to see two NATO countries collide, and the solution – for them – is simple: negotiate.

And so in Athens the U.S. Ambassador to Greece said:
“I spoke clearly to these issues last week in my public comments in Washington D.C., and the State Department spokesperson over the weekend reaffirmed the strong American view that now is a time for dialogue and not for further escalatory, provocative actions.”
The problem is that now is not the time for Greece to negotiate. It is actually the worst time to sit down and face such serious national problems that have prevailed for decades. Greece’s negotiating position is very weak after almost ten years of profound economic crisis. Greece’s relative strength is not what it was before the crisis, or it what it will be a few years after the crisis passes.

While the State Department’s call for negotiations is understandable from the point of view of the U.S. and the EU, it is not good for Greece and Cyprus – nor is it good, if they think things through, for the oft-proclaimed interests of the U.S. and the EU in the stability of the Balkans and the Eastern Mediterranean, to encourage Ankara in any way.

So, it cannot be in any way unclear that the road to Geneva (i.e., to negotiations), is particularly slippery for Greek interests.

Piraeus Bank: Successful Completion of the Book Building Process for the Issue of €400 Million Dated Subordinated Notes

ATHENS – Piraeus Bank announces that it has successfully completed the book building process for the issuance of 10NC5 dated subordinated notes amounting to €400 million, through its wholly owned UK subsidiary, Piraeus Group Finance Plc and under the €25,000,000,000 Euro Medium Term Note Programme. The notes are placed in the international debt capital markets and will increase Piraeus Bank’s total capital ratio by ca. 90 basis points.

Demand for the transaction stood at approximately €850 million, with 135 investors placing orders as part of the book building process, which was run by Goldman Sachs International and UBS Investment Bank. Orders from more than 20 jurisdictions were received.

The coupon of the issue has been set at 9.75% and settlement is scheduled for June 26 th 2019.

Piraeus Bank’s Chief Executive Officer Christos Megalou commented: “We are very pleased with the results of our Tier 2 issuance and the overall market reception. This is the first public Tier 2 issuance by a Greek bank since 2008. The high level of investor demand is a clear vote of confidence from the market in the overall progress we have made at Piraeus Bank. The issuance fortifies further our balance sheet and acts as a key enabler for the implementation of our “Agenda 2023” strategic plan, which will benefit our investors, customers and employees.”

About Piraeus Bank

Piraeus Bank, founded in 1916, is the leading lender in Greece with a 29% loan market share, offering a full range of financial products and services to more than 5mn customers. Total assets of the Group amounted to €59bn, net loans to €38bn and customer deposits to €44bn on 31 March 2019. Piraeus Bank employees 12 thousand people in Greece and operates a nationwide network of 548 units, ranking first in customer satisfaction in the Greek market. In parallel, the Bank is at the forefront of digitalization and innovation in Greece, catering for the needs of more than 1.4mn customers in e-banking services. For more information on Piraeus Bank: http://www.piraeusbankgroup.com/en/

Greek Prosecutor Again Rejects Koufodinas’ Furlough Demand

With the rejection of a furlough demand by jailed terrorist assassin Dimitris Koufodinas struck down by Greece’s highest court, a prosecutor ordered to review the request a second time has turned it down again.

The prosecutor in the town of Volos, near the low-security farm to which Koufodinas was transferred, rejected the application for the multiple murderer to get a seventh vacation from jail.

Koufodinas in May went on a protracted hunger strike over the previous rejection, leading anarchist sympathizers to conduct violent attacks in Athens in support of him and the high court to direct a review of his furlough, causing him to break off his hunger strike.

The prosecutor justified the decision by pointing to the new felony charges of insurgency that have been brought against the former November terror group lead, said Kathimerini, tied to his protest in solidarity with a hunger-striking anarchist in February 2018.

The new provisions mean that Koufodinas, along with 20 more prison inmates implicated in the incident, essentially lose the right to furlough or early release due to the new charges.

The protest last year was carried out in Greek prisons to express support for Constantinos Giagtzoglou, detained on charges of membership of the Conspiracy of the Cells of Fire guerrilla group and over a letter bomb attack against former premier Lucas Papademos.

Giagtzoglou had started a hunger and thirst strike demanding his transfer from a jail in Larissa to Attica’s Korydallos Prison, where friends of his are inmates, Ironically, Koufodinas wanted out of Korydallos to get to a low-security farm.

A statement issued by Koufodinas and three jailed anarchists had expressed solidarity with Giagtzoglou, as had other inmates in separate statements.

Koufodinas is serving 11 life sentences for his role in November 17 killing 23 people, including five Americans attached to the US Embassy over the years, leading US Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt to denounce him “as a murderer, not Robin Hood.”

Koufodinas was also seen as having sympathy from the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, whose party is riddled with terrorist and anarchist supporters for whom Koufodinas is an idol and darling.

Poll Shows Rout On, New Democracy Lead 11% Over SYRIZA

ATHENS – New Democracy’s lead over the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA has hit 11 percent ahead of July 7 snap elections, up 1.2 percent over a previous survey just days before, indicating the Conservatives would win outright and control Parliament without needing a coalition partner.

In the survey by Opinion Poll on June 20, New Democracy led by 34.5-23.2 percent for SYRIZA, with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras paying a price for reneging for 4-1/2 years on anti-austerity promises, growing lawlessness in Greece’s capital, home foreclosures and giving away the name of Macedonia to the newly-renamed North Macedonia.

In third, very far behind, at 5.1 percent was the center-left Movement for Change (KINAL,) a grouping led by former stalwarts of the defunct PASOK Socialists who went under after backing austerity measures antithetical to its alleged principles so they could be a junior coalition partner with New Democracy in a previous government.

Fourth in its usual spot where it has been entrenched for decades was the KKE Communist party, now at 3.8 percent, slipping in support.

Also on a course to get into Parliament  were two new parties, the pro-Russia, ultra-religious, anti-migrant Greek Solution (Elliniki Lysi) of TV pitchman Kyriakos Velopoulos, known best for selling Letters from Jesus and hair growth tonic although he’s mostly bald, which got 3.2 percent and the MeRA25 of former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, right at the cutoff point at 3 percent.

But on the outs, if the survey holds, is the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn, with its 15 lawmakers in the fourth year of a trial on charges of running a criminal gang, and now down to 1.8 percent, and the Union of Centrists, failing to reach the threshold to return.

Two other parties that had been in Parliament before it was dissolved for the elections, to Potami and the tiny, pro-austerity, jingoistic Independent Greeks (ANEL) that had been a junior coalition partner with SYRIZA before pulling out in opposition to giving away the Asked who they thought would win regardless of their preference, those surveyed said New Democracy by a margin of 39.8-27 percent, although the previous survey by a different company had it at 70-19 percent.

For some reason unexplained, some 6.4 percent thought KINAL would win and 4.6 percent picked KKE. New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis, by a difference of 36-24.7 percent, was the choice to be Prime Minister, a big margin.

Mother of Slain Greek Rapper Faints at Golden Dawn Trial (Vid)

ATHENS – Magda Fyssa, the mother of slain Greek anti-Fascist hip-hop artist Pavlos Fyssas collapsed in court during the trial of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn’s hierarcy and members when the man accused of murdering her son was brought in to sit at the dock.

Giorgos Roupakias, a self-professed member of the party whose leaders are in the fourth year of a trial on charges of running a criminal gang, is charged with stabbing the 34-year-old Fyssas in the heart during a September, 2013 altercation.

Released from a maximum 18 months pre-trial detention, Roupakias has been under house arrest for three years as the trial keeps dragging on with many defendants refusing to show up and not being compelled to attend.

Magda Fyssa was escorted outside the courtroom but asked for the session to continue, said Kathimerini, with Roupakis due to testify, along with other suspects in the assault and killing that took place in the Piraeus district of Keratsini.

Golden Dawn’s leaders have denied the charges of being a criminal gang but support for the party is withering with the latest survey showing it was at 1.8 percent, below the 3 percent threshold needed to get back into Parliament in the July 7 snap elections.

Magda Fyssa, the mother of slain Greek anti-Fascist hip-hop artist Pavlos Fyssas. (Photo by Eurokinissi/Tatiana Bollari)
Magda Fyssa, the mother of slain Greek anti-Fascist hip-hop artist Pavlos Fyssas. (Photo by Eurokinissi/Tatiana Bollari)

The Acropolis Museum Celebrates Its Tenth Birthday

ATHENS – “It is a great pleasure for the Acropolis Museum to celebrate its tenth birthday,” its president, Professor Dimitris Pantermalis, said in an interview with the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA) on Thursday on the occasion of its tenth anniversary.

The museum has attracted 14,500,000 Greeks and foreigners since its inauguration. According to the latest data, more than 1,803,000 people visited the museum from June 1, 2018 to May 31, 2019. About 25 percent of the visitors were Greeks, 18 percent were Americans, 7-8 percent were French and British, and 5 percent were from Spain, Italy, Germany and other countries.

“The museum has recorded a course that determines the rest of its journey. Its main focus, since it opened, was its visitors and it has been working in this direction,” Pantermalis added. “Our aim is to provide the best information about the masterpieces of the Acropolis of the 6th and 5th BC century in order to renew the international interest in ancient Greek art and to describe the problem with the British Museum,” he said, referring to the sculptures from the Parthenon.

He added, “We have also implemented digital technologies so that the visitor can admire the authentic works and at the same time see what it was like when they were on the Acropolis, according to our research. Because after 2,500 years, of course they have suffered.”

Pantermalis also underlined that “as of Friday, June 21, a new level opens in the museum with the on-site excavation, where visitors can see an Athenian neighbourhood under the shadow of the Acropolis.”

The new site will allow visitors to walk on a metal corridor shaped like a Greek pi above the 4,000 sq.m. area and look down at an ancient Greek settlement that survived from the Classical era to Byzantine times. Visitors will see excavated homes, workshops, baths and streets.

Scientists from Abroad to Attend Conference on Greek contributions in Paros

Scientists from foreign universities will gather in Paros on June 28-30 to attend a conference organised by Laurentian University of Ontario, Canada on the continuing contribution of Greeks in all sectors.

The speakers – professors from universities of Canada, USA, Russia, South Africa, Britain and Greece – come from all areas of research.

Explaining their choice of venue (the Poseidon Conference Centre on Paros), organisers said the following: “In order to study the Greeks, we should be in Greece – a place of endless possibilities, rich in history and blessed with natural beauty. We chose Paros because, like all the Cycladic Islands, it is a magical destination” with stunning views, clean waters and easily accessible by plane or boat through Athens. “The people of Paros are hospitable and determined to allow visitors to make each day more refreshing than the previous one,” they added.