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Athens Stock Exchange continued its fall today, the main reason being bank shares

04 August 2015 / 20:08:24  GRReporter
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For the second day in a row, the shares of the four systemic Greek banks were sunk on the Athens Stock Exchange. Today, their losses amount to over 29%, with the National Bank of Greece being the only subject of investor interest, as a result of which the overall losses settled to about 25%.

Yet the overall picture of the exchange has improved as the main index reported losses of around 1.22% at 659.94 points.

"We opened the stock market at the shortest possible notice," said the Chairman of the Hellenic Capital Market Commission, Konstantinos Botopoulos, during the press conference organised today by the management of the Athens Stock Exchange. In his words, it was not possible to do so earlier due to two main factors: the legal framework and the technical preparation. The negotiations with the European Central Bank on the conditions for the reopening of the Athens Stock Exchange needed another week.

 

Photo: Athens News Agency / Orestis Panagiotou

Botopoulos was clear that the Greek government's intention was to reopen the exchange much earlier, but capital controls on banks stood in the way of settling transactions, which is why the exchange hiatus lasted five weeks.

"The exchange was closed for so long due to the imposition of capital controls. From the moment it began relaxing until last Friday, when the ministerial decree to reopen came out, we were working on two action plans. The first envisaged very few restrictions in carrying out transactions, while the second one contained more stringent ones. Eventually, the second option was applied." Botopoulos emphasised that the distinction in terms of freedom for carrying out transactions was between investors with bank accounts in Greek banks and investors having accounts in foreign banks – rather than between Greek and foreign investors.

 

According to Botopoulos, restrictions on open sales of shares will continue until the end of August unless the market situation improves earlier than that. "It depends on the normalisation of performance and of the Greek economy as a whole. This includes putting an end to uncertainty, reaching an agreement with creditors and starting the process of bank recapitalisation." The chairman of the Securities Commission stressed that the exchange could not have opened without the ability to carry out transactions with securities of the four systemic banks. "This would have meant blocking half of the market."

Finally, Botopoulos pointed out that September would be the critical month of the exchange's work.

In his turn, the Athens Stock Exchange CEO, Socrates Lazaridis, said the situation is beginning to stabilize. "There has been an inflow of foreign guarantees since yesterday, which shows that foreign investors are getting ready for investment activity."

 

Photo: Athens News Agency / Orestis Panagiotou

He added that, while talking with managers of listed companies, he realized that they were not making plans to leave the Greek market. On the contrary, their main drive is to normalize the market, as many of their companies have foreign participation.

Lazaridis announced that the Athens Stock Exchange would participate in the London investors' road show on 10 and 11 September to inform investors of the improving situation on the Greek market.

Tags: Economy Markets Athens Stock Exchange banking stocks capital controls restrictions on Greek investors
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