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Daily Press Review – 11/12/2019

Ioannis Matsis: The deal maker

Hellenic Bank CEO Ioannis Matsis, won a personal bet with the Hellenic-Co-op deal as it was a deal that was crowned with absolute success. It was a deal that some people thought to be impossible, or even impossible, but the CEO took up himself when he took over as head of the bank. Specifically, when he took up the top post of Hellenic Bank he had to tackle the great challenge so that the banking group could become viable through a big buy-out. This goal was crowned with huge success in September 2019 with the full integration of the former Co-op into Hellenic Bank, a process that was completed within the timeframes and the budget that was set, while it was an incredibly demanding project and a huge challenge. To complete this deal, Matsis along with his very capable team, worked hard for over a month, for the acquisition of the good part of the Co-op, reaching an excellent deal for Hellenic Bank, which established it as the biggest bank of Cyprus in the retail sector. At the same time, Hellenic’s business model was enhanced, putting it on a solid foundation and a course of continuous profitability for the future. The second biggest bet for Matsis, which was connected to the Hellenic-Co-op deal, was the €150m share capital increase, which was successfully completed in March 2019. Hellenic Bank’s CEO also had an internal challenge, investing in technology and turning Hellenic Bank into a modern organisation. To this end, he didn’t hesitate to take on the unions, promoting a fairer payment of employees, as well as greater flexibility in the concession of raises, on the basis of productivity and meritocracy.


“The Limassol Star Speaker Show” this Thursday

Hellas Direct presents “The Limassol Star Speaker Show”, welcoming stars of entrepreneurship and marketing from abroad, who will inspire the public for their future careers. This cross-industry Conference aims to help businesses improve their leadership capabilities, as well as their current marketing strategies, with a view to acquire the necessary tools for a successful business. Hellenic Bank is one of the sponsors of the event.


BoC CEO signs the «CEOs Call to Action» for Sustainable Development in Europe

CEOs and other business leaders across Europe are seeking for a new agreement for Europe based on a vision for Sustainable Development and are ready to support such dialogue and enhance their interaction and cooperation with society. The initiative “CEOs Call to Action” has been undertaken by CSR Europe, the leading European Business Network for Corporate Social Responsibility, an initiative that was endorsed by Bank of Cyprus CEO, Panicos Nicolaou. The initiative calls on European leaders to commit themselves on taking actions to deliver value to society and sustainable performance through a strong business purpose and ethics. As the Call states “As a business we want to provide value to society and sustainable profitability through a strong purpose and ethical foundation of our business. We believe in a democratic society in Europe where the rule of law, cooperation between enterprises, civil society and governments are our greatest assets to respond to the public concerns on the path to the future of Europe; a Europe that leaves no one behind.” In addition, they call up on other businesses, business sectors, civil society and all relevant policy makers to accelerate inclusive growth, to confront climate change and achieve sustainable development. Bank of Cyprus’ CEO commenting on the signing of the agreement said: “Every responsible organization has a duty and obligation to act with Corporate Responsibility leaving a positive social and environmental footprint in the society in which it operates. By signing this Agreement Bank of Cyprus wants to send the message that we are a socially responsible organization, we support and encourage initiatives that support sustainable development and the well-being of citizens. And this is not just words. As we have presented in our 2018 Corporate Responsibility Report, we demonstrate valuable work with measurable data, in line with international practices. This is why we are signing such an Agreement that supports actions for the well-being of EU citizens. Together with other EU businesses we will work for a stronger Europe, for a better Cyprus.”


House Finance Corporation bombed

Unknown suspects placed an improvised explosive mechanism at the offices of the House Finance Corporation in Limassol, causing damages in the inside of the Corporation’s building. According to police sources, the explosion took place a few minutes after midnight on Tuesday. The preliminary investigation points to the fact that the explosion was caused by an improvised bomb of high power combined with flammable material. The explosion resulted in damages in the HFC’s glass door but their cost has not yet been calculated.


Nicosia Mall sale finalised

The sale of Nicosia Mall was completed yesterday as the involved parties gave their last signatures for the transfer of shares. The transaction amounted to around €100m. The process was completed in record time with procedures that in other circumstances would need much more time. According to Economy Today’s sources, this is something that the CEO of the Mall, Michalis Hadjiyiannis is personally responsible for, as he took up the lead and organised the transaction only four months ago. The new shareholders are Zorbas PHC, Voici La Mode and the supermarket Athienitis as well as Athienitis Contractors, which now has a 36% stake in the shopping mall. All the companies now have branches within the Nicosia Mall. It should be noted that Bank of Cyprus has not participation in the new ownership structure. The Bank had financed the completion of the project that remained stuck during the financial crisis and the 2013 haircut, after reaching an restructuring agreement with Athienitis Contractors, which had begun the construction.


IMF: digitally advanced banks have higher returns

Digitisation creates an opportunity as well as an imperative need to cut the costs of the banks, to maintain their profitability and reduce repeated expenses, the IMF said. The introduction of fintech companies and the customers’ turn to technology are incentives for the banks, so that they speed up their digital transformation. When we compare between countries, the IMF says, we can see that digitally advanced countries have lower cost-to-revenue ratios. Digital maturity is connected with increased profitability, according to the IMF. Specifically, digitally advanced banks had a 0.9% average total increase on their ROE between 2011 and 2017, while less digitally advanced banks saw a drop of 1.1%.


All kinds of alliances at the House

Phileleftheros reports that temporary alliances were created at the Parliament on the 2020 state budget. On the one hand, DISY, DIKO, Solidary formed an alliance so as to pass the state budget later today, even though the latter two parties are saying that they are not giving a blank cheque to the Government. On the other hand, the parties of the opposition, with 13 combinations are cooperating in order to approve the amendments they are proposing so that they can control certain government plans. Yesterday, the parties were making trade-offs on the amendments. Until late at night, the parliamentary officers, were working so as to improve certain amendments and retract others. Background negotiations will be ongoing until the last minute, so as to block certain government plans. In the meantime, two amendments that are considered as very important by AKEL, EDEK and the Greens will not have the necessary majority and they are trying to convince DIKO to support them. The three parties are suggesting to allocate a €40m budget line, which will go towards implementing the necessary infrastructure for the advent of natural gas to Cyprus. MPs have some reservations on the matter, and this is why the matter will be discussed after the holidays at the House Watchdog Committee. Moreover, it should be noted that DIKO is being pressured into passing budget lines that concern the natural gas infrastructure and Olivewood.


Car rental guarantee for tourists

The Minister of Transport Yiannis Karousos will push for a new bill which will require tourists to pay a €300-500 deposit for any potential traffic violations they commit while renting a car in the Republic of Cyprus. The amount will be committed via the tourists’ credit cards for up to two weeks, and if they don’t commit any traffic violations the sum will be released. The Minister said that in the past 3 years, in the Famagusta district alone, €6,000 fines involving car rentals were left unpaid.


Social media a tool for Cypriot businesses

The internet is an essential tool for Cypriot businesses, while the use of social media networks is also extensive, according to CYSTAT’s survey results on the usage of information technologies, communication and e-commerce in businesses in 2019. The survey recorded a significant increase in the businesses’ internet connection with a speed of over 30Mbit/s. Specifically, one in two businesses with 10 or more employees (49.3%) have an internet connection with a speed of over 30Mbit/s, compared with only 35.4% in 2018 according to the results of a survey published by CYSTAT. 73% of businesses with 10 or more employees in Cyprus use social media. Social media (facebook, Liknedin etc,) is the most popular medium for businesses (71.3%). Blogs or microblogs like Twitter, are used by 28.7% of businesses. Knowledge exchange tools such as Wikis are used by 4.7% of businesses. Moreover, employees make use of online videocalls. Specifically, call or videocall applications (Skype, Whatsapp etc.) are used by 53.6% of all businesses, while in bigger businesses this percentages reaches 78.9%.



Annual General Meeting of Members of the Cyprus Shipping Association

The Annual General Meeting of the Cyprus Shipping Association will take place at the “Four Seasons” Hotel in Limassol, on Tuesday, December 17, 2019, at 12 noon. The Meeting is anticipated with particular interest following a thorough review of the results of the privatization of the Limassol Port, the possible privatization of Larnaca Port, the construction of a new industrial port in Vasilikos and the development of our port industry in general. The meeting will be addressed by the Honorable Minister of Transport, Communications and Works, Mr. Yiannis Karoussos, the President of the Port Authority, Mr. Petros Krassas, the President of CCCI, Mr. Christodoulos Agastiniotis, the President of the Cyprus Employers and Industrialists Federation Mr. George Petrou, and the Leadership of Trade Unions SEK and PEO. The Chairman of the Association, Mr. Panagiotis Christodoulou, will address the current problems of our port sector and will present the Association’s suggestions so that the Cypriot ports can respond positively and effectively to the current needs and challenges that arise.


Shipping contributing to the pollution of the marine environment

In an article by an environmental engineer, it is stated that shipping is a major contributor to maritime pollution, and to a degree of degradation of the marine environment. The resulting pollution can be divided into two separate categories, the operational and the accidental pollution. In the first case we are referring to contaminants resulting from the normal operation of a ship (commercial, passenger or leisure), and can be anticipated, and addressed. In the second case, we are referring to a burden due to accidents that is impossible to anticipate in advance, but it can be limited with proper observance of the safety protocols.


Italian frigate in the Cyprus EEZ

According to reports in the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, Italy has sent a military ship to Cyprus, for the protection of its national interests. The Italian frigate Martinengo arrived last Friday at the port of Larnaca for a patrolling operation in the eastern Mediterranean, for the purpose of being present and monitoring the maritime areas, with respect to international law and for the protection of Italy’s national interests, according to the press statement.


Greece at the EU Summit

Developments in the wider region around Cyprus are now rampant, with Turkey taking the lead in provocative actions, and Italy, according to ‘La Republica’ reports, sending a frigate to Larnaca to defend Italian interests in the region. We are only a few hours away from the EU summit, which is expected to make concrete references to the Turkey-Libya agreement, with Ankara escalating the provocative actions. “The message to Ankara is clear: if we need to show our flag, we are ready,” Italians say in a statement. According to the newspaper ‘La Republica’, Italy has sent a military ship to Cyprus to protect its national interests. It is the Italian frigate Martinengo, which has been in Cyprus since last Friday, at the port of Larnaca, according to the Italians, while attributing its presence to an “Eastern Mediterranean patrol”  with the aim of representing and monitoring the maritime areas, with due regard for the international law and for the protection of national interests. ” In the coming days, Martinengo will take part in exercises with the navy of other ally countries.


The opposition harshly criticizes the state budget

Yesterday, in a general debate in Parliament over the 2020 state budget, the opposition criticised the government for the huge budget cuts for the society. AKEL’s Skevi Koukouma pointed out the differences in mentality between the two opposing parties, stating that the current Government’s vision is to build luxury casinos, while AKEL wishes to extend maternity leave, paid parental leave, and achieve equal pay etc.


Only one bidder for Hellinikon casino license

According to informed sources, the tender process for the casino license and the creation of an Integrated Casino Resort (ICR) at Hellenikon, an investment that could reach €1b, will move forward with only one bidder. Both the Hellenic Gaming Commission (HGC), which will make the final decision, and the Government would clearly prefer two bidders until the end of the tender process. However, according to sources, one of the two offers that were submitted has deficiencies that cannot be remedied. One of the bids was rejected, because of the letter of guarantee, which is briefer than the four-day validity period, the bidder’s non-compliance with the experience requested in the tender, and the letter of credit which concerns the financing of the project.


Awards for Louis Hotels

Louis Hotels received multiple awards at the 19th Gastronomy Exhibition HORECA held on the 29th November to 1 December. The hotel team excelled at the award ceremony by securing 23 awards.  Among the many awards that Louis Hotels chefs won were the four gold medals at the Grand Prix ​​Challenge and the gold medals received by the chefs of The Royal Apollonia and King Jason Paphos in the Cyprus Breakfast category.


Secret customers to be hired for rating hotels

The Deputy Ministry of Tourism published the preliminary competition documents to be announced in February for selecting a contractor company that will be responsible for sending secret customers on secret visits to hotels in order to assess their services. The value of the contract is estimated at € 300,000 and according to the competition documents, it involves visiting and evaluating 87 hotels. The hotel evaluation will be done based on specific criteria and protocol to be agreed with the Deputy Ministry of Tourism which will be transparent and non-discriminatory.


Doctors open fire against OKYPY

Phileleftheros reports on increased tensions in the healthcare sector, only 24 hours before the crucial Board Meeting of the State Health Services Organisation (OKYPY) and the decision that will be taken on the financial incentives to state doctors, and 48 hours before the announced three-hour strike of PASYKI doctors, in which state doctors unions PASYDY and PASESI will very likely participate as they have already announced. Yesterday, PASYKI president and representative of OKYPY exchanged fire on the occasion of the room shortage that was observed during the day at the Limassol and Paphos hospitals, which resulted in the patients’ inconvenience as well as the postponement of surgeries. The Minister of Health himself did not manage to escape the fire of the PASYKI president, which was held accountable as it comes to appointing people in OKYPY. OKYPY’s spokesman Charalambos Charilaou responded to the criticism of PASYKI’s president who said that the hospitals do not have a shortage of rooms but that doctors and clinic directors are not able to manage them appropriately. He also underlined that the overtime programme in order to shorten the waiting lists should not operate at the expense of emergency cases and added that the number of rooms in a hospital belong to the hospital and not any clinic. Charliaou also said that a specific manual on clinic management, has been approved and discussed with the directors of the clinics but is not being implemented. The article also notes that PASYKI’s president discussed the matter of staff shortage and wondered why did OKYPY repeatedly announce vacancies and cannot find any doctors. “they can’t find doctors because they haven’t organised the system properly. In order to organise it, you need to have a correct understanding. From the moment that the hospitals are viewed as businesses that need to simply be viable, there is no proper organisation”, Koumas said. OKYPY’s rep said that 70 doctors from different specialisations have been hired and assumed duties. He also supported that the staff at state hospitals is much greater than the private sector.


Hundreds of people still can’t register to GHS, HIO still investigating

Six months before the GHS implementation, hundreds and maybe thousands of beneficiaries still don’t have access to healthcare due to technical problems in the HIO’s software. These are cases of beneficiaries who are paying their contributions as normal since last March, but they cannot register to the GHS and gain access to healthcare because their software has not been updated by the Social Insurance. The HIO is aware of the problem from the beginning of the system’s implementation, but it hasn’t been solved so far. The HIO’s officials reply to beneficiaries saying that solving the problem is a matter of days, but this excuse is being repeated for months now without a solution. The latest promise was that the problem will be solved within December. Many beneficiaries, even though they are submitting their contributions and should have access to personal and specialised doctors, are paying huge sums to buy their medicines. The problem is blowing up to greater proportions since many of the beneficiaries can no longer pay for their own healthcare coverage. It’s rather outrageous, the paper says, that HIO knows about this problem but does not take up responsibility for the beneficiaries and offer them alternatives. The exclusion of beneficiaries from the GHS is happening because at some point they either stopped paying social insurance or they were unemployed, or switched employers. The problem mainly concerns beneficiaries who don’t have a Cypriot citizenship, despite being registered in the Social Insurance Services registry for 10 or even 20 years.


Greek pulmonologists: It’s premature and irresponsible to say that vaping is safe

At a press conference, representatives of the Hellenic Thoracic Society stated that “safer doesn’t mean safe”. They said that comparing electronic nicotine devices (such as vapes or e-cigarettes) to conventional cigarettes is problematic and deceiving. They underlined that the long-term effects of vaping are still unknown as e-cigarettes have emerged only a decade ago, while to fully understand the consequences of smoking required decades of research. Vaping has gained popularity quickly based on the premise that it’s safer than conventional cigarettes, which according to pulmonologist is premature and irresponsible to claim.



Erectile dysfunction: the habit which increases the risk by 50%

In men aged 30-40 years old, smoking increases the risk of developing erectile dysfunction by 50% according to available data. Experts explain that in order to have a satisfactory erection, the blood must flow freely in the penis. The nicotine in cigarettes can damage blood vessels and cause their degeneration. It also causes the arteries leading to the penis to become narrow, resulting in both reduced flow and reduced blood pressure in the area. Quitting smoking, losing weight, a healthy diet and less consumption of alcohol can all contribute to the reversal of erectile dysfunction.


Heated tobacco products cause less cardiac distress

In his interview with ygeiawatch Dr. Ignatios Economides discussed the impact of new tobacco products on smokers’ health. The professor had been conducting independent research on heated-tobacco products, monitoring his patients who quit smoking conventional cigarettes and switched to smoking IQOS. He found that only a month after they switched to IQOS, there was improvement in all indicators of cardiovascular function!



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