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Newsletter March 2013


Joint Greece-Qatar Cooperation Committee Meeting

As Greece and Qatar develop a stronger bilateral relationship, new initiatives are evolving.

The first meeting of the Joint Greece-Qatar Cooperation Committee was held on March 6 at the Ministry for Development in Athens, chaired by Deputy Minister for Development, Competitiveness, Infrastructure, Transport and Networks, Mr Notis Mitarachi and CEO of Qatar Holding, Mr. Ahmad Al-Sayed.

The discussions, which confirm the very good existing bilateral relations, were held in accordance with the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Greek government and the government of Qatar during the visit of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras to Doha. According to this memorandum, an investment fund is to be set up for the support of small and medium-sized businesses in Greece.

Potential partnerships for investment projects of private Greek companies operating in the sectors of tourism, energy and food were also discussed.

General Secretary for Strategic and Private Investments, Mr. Peter Selekos, and CEO of Invest in Greece, Mr. Stephanos Issaias attended the meeting.

Prime Minister Samaras Promotes Investment to Qataris
Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras visited the Gulf state of Qatar to discuss investment opportunities in Greece. Mr. Samaras met with Qatar’s Emir and Prime Minister, as well as with top officials from Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund to discuss investment possibilities in Greece, including equity participation in Greek state-owned companies.

“They discussed Qatari investment in Greece. This was the main goal of the trip. Equity participation in state companies that are being privatized, the state lottery and DEPA, the public natural gas company, this is what Greece presented to the Prime Minister,” said a Greek government spokesman.

Other investment areas discussed include real estate projects such as the Elliniko project, a 620-hectare development near central Athens, Europe’s largest real estate project. Qatar Holding, the investment arm of Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund, is participating in the tender process of the project. Qatar Holding recently invested 1.2 billion Euro in a gold mining operation in northern Greece. Representatives from 15 Greek companies were present, including Aegean Airlines, steel producer Halyvourgiki and natural gas major DEPA.

In addition, representatives of Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment Co., part of the Persian Gulf country’s sovereign-wealth fund, discussed the sale of the Astir Palace hotel with Greek officials and the resort’s owners. Astir Palace Hotel SA (ASTIR), the public company that owns the resort, has a market value of 285 million Euro.

The National Bank of Greece and the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund, which own the property, put out an international public tender on January 16, 2013. The 120,000 square-meter (1.3 million square-foot) complex includes three hotels, private beaches and 58 bungalows on the Vouliagmeni peninsula, 25 kilometers (16 miles) from Athens’ Venizelos International Airport.

Greece-Qatar Business Council Established
Bilateral business councils establish a formal framework to develop and expand trade and investment.

Arousing the interest of major foreign business groups in making investments in Greece was the key aim of an initiative to establish a Greece-Qatar Business Council, Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV) official Thanassis Lavidas said.

Mr. Lavidas, who heads SEV΄s Business Council for International Actions, signed the agreement with the Qatar Chamber of Commerce on behalf of SEV at a forum held in Doha, Qatar and attended by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and the delegation of ministers that accompanied him on the trip.

The Greek side of the new Council includes 22 companies occupying leading positions in the construction, energy, industry, building materials, IT, pharmaceuticals, clothing, finance and legal services and consultancy sectors.

"Greek enterprises, in spite of all the difficulties and challenges, through their presence here indicate their readiness to proceed with business plans that will yield real benefits, create work and new jobs and contribute to our country’s and Greek society’s growth," Mr. Lavidas said.

He pointed out that the Greece-Qatar Business Council was the first to be established between Greece and one of the Persian Gulf states and was part of SEV΄s strategic plan to create a platform of contacts and networks outside Greece’s borders in areas of primary importance to the Greek business community.

Mr. Lavidas reported encouraging first signs and announced that SEV΄s Business Council for International Actions will organize talks by Qatar speakers in Greece in the coming months.

January 31, 2013

France "Eyes" Greek Investment
French investment interest in Greece is oriented to energy, ports, marinas and real estate, Finance Minister Giannis Stournaras said following the visit of French President Francois Hollande and Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici to Athens on February 19.

The French seem to be keen to the upstream sector, which includes exploring for potential underground or underwater crude oil and natural gas fields.

Total, the French multinational oil and gas company, has expressed interest in the new concessions round in Greece.

Total is also interested in the downstream sector—the refining of petroleum crude oil and the processing and purifying of raw natural gas.

The French company may take part in the privatization of Hellenic Petroleum, gaining a strategic stake in Greek oil market.

Total is one of the world’s major oil companies, with over 96,000 employees and operates in more than 130 countries.

February 21, 2013

Greek-French Agreement on Tourism Signed
Greece and France signed a major agreement on tourism during French President Francois Hollande’s visit to Athens on February 19, according to Tourism Minister Olga Kefalogianni.

The first step towards the agreement was initiated during her meeting with her French counterpart in December in Paris, Mrs. Kefalogianni said, when the two ministers discussed the need to expand and enhance Greek-French cooperation in "a very crucial sector to both countries."

The Tourism Minister said that Greece wants to attract more French tourists and to increase the Greek tourist flow to France by offering new products. "We will have a series of meetings in Paris in the near future with representatives of tourism agencies from both countries because we believe that politicians should create the framework within which the private sector moves to benefit development and the opening of jobs in France and Greece respectively," she said.