Newsletter View

Newsletter July 2013

NEWSWIRE

Hotels Attracting Interest

Foreign funds are eying returns from Greek hotel units.

The property market in Greece is attracting the interest of a growing number of foreign institutional investors, mostly from the US and Britain, who are eyeing investment opportunities in the tourism sector.

George Kaburopulos, president of the Urban Land Institute Greece and Cyprus, says that there has recently been considerable demand for hotel units, holdings in property sector companies and tourism concerns on the part of venture capital funds.

“The interest we have seen recently is exceptionally high. We have seen that Greece has returned to investors’ radar screens. For now the greatest interest is reserved for hotel properties, and in addition to potential individual buyers we have been approached by leading chains in the sector that are interested in taking over the operation of new units,” Mr. Kaburopulos said.

June 2, 2013
(Source: e-Kathimerini)


German, U.S. Finance Ministers Visit Greece

Wolfgang Schaeuble of Germany and Jack Lew of the United States praise Greece’s reform efforts.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble expressed his support for Greece’s ongoing economic reform programme and pledged to back a fund to support small businesses during a visit to Athens on July 18, 2013.

Mr. Schaeuble had meetings with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and other government officials, as well as meetings with Greek and German business representatives, where he repeated his conviction that Greece had made “impressive” progress in its reform drive while stressing that persistence with structural reforms was the only way the country could emerge from the crisis.

During his 40-minute meeting with Prime Minister Samaras, Mr. Schaeuble reportedly expressed optimism at the progress of the country’s reform programme, noting that, “the cup for Greece is much fuller than it was.”

Greece’s Minister for Development and Competitiveness Kostis Hatzidakis and the President of KfW, the German development bank, Dr. Ulrich Schroeder, signed a Memorandum of Understanding on a new Greek Investment Fund.

The purpose of the Fund, which is to be established by the end of 2013, is for the financing of regional infrastructure projects and businesses, especially SMEs, to promote growth, employment and innovation.

The Fund will provide liquidity to industries and companies that are crucial to revive the Greek economy.

The key points of the memorandum are:
-The Fund will be established with technical assistance and support from KfW and other international financial institutions. It is to be run by professional management, independent of government influence, respecting the principles of international law and best practices on risk.
-The Greek government intends to contribute 350 million Euro to the Fund, of which 200 million will come from the NSRF and 150 million from the Public Investment Programme. The KfW respectively stands ready to support this initiative and to consider, in agreement with the German government, an investment up to100 million Euro to the Fund. The Greek government will also seek additional funds from international financial institutions and private investors.
-The Fund will not be a bank but will complement banks.

The KfW also stresses that it recognises the efforts of the government and of Greek citizens to reduce the deficit and implement structural reforms aimed at growth and employment and declared, on behalf of the German government, its commitment to support Greece, both at a European and bilateral level.

The memorandum also establishes a task force which will be composed of representatives of Greece and the international financial institutions that intend to contribute to the establishment of the Fund, and who will provide technical assistance to carry out all the steps required to set up the Fund by the end of the year.

Mr. Schaeuble highlighted two bright spots in the Greek economy, describing the boom in the tourism sector as “a success story for this year” and on the boost in Greek exports, particularly to non-European countries.

July 19, 2013
(Source: Ministry for Development and Competitiveness & eKathimerini)

U.S Treasury Secretary Lew visits Greece on July 21

Three days following the visit of Minister Schaeuble, U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew visited Greece, on July 21, to discuss Greece’s economic reforms and Europe's policies to support recovery.
 
Treasury Secretary Lew urged Greece to persevere with tough economic reforms during a trip to Athens designed to demonstrate Washington's support for Greece.

Greek government officials said Mr. Lew's talks focused on Greece's fiscal progress before Prime Minister Antonis Samaras meets U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington on August 8.

"We recognize the difficult decisions and shared sacrifices of the last few years," Mr. Lew told reporters after meeting Prime Minister Antonis Samaras at the Acropolis Museum in Athens.

"Of course the road ahead is still challenging. Continued reform will be essential to laying the foundation for sustained growth," he added.

Prime Minister Samaras said: “Greece has gone through difficult moments in the last three years. But it has gone a long way in the last 12 months. The image of Greece abroad has changed. Both within and beyond Europe. My imminent visit to President Obama at the White House will further strengthen our ties with our American allies. We have always been very close friends as demonstrated by the strong and flourishing Greek American Community. We now have to keep on building on this solid background. Τhe discussion we just had with the Secretary was focused on the obvious challenges of our times: growth and stability.”

Mr. Lew visited Athens after attending a meeting of G20 finance ministers and central bankers which pledged to put growth before austerity to revive the global economy.

Washington has long urged Europe to prioritise growth over fiscal consolidation and Mr. Lew reiterated this message in Athens.

"Engagement with Europe remains at the top of my agenda, because U.S. jobs and growth are inextricably linked to Europe achieving growth and prosperity," he said.

July 21, 2013
(Source: http://www.primeminister.gov.gr/, Reuters)


Greece Improves Ranking in Competitiveness

As published in the World Competitiveness Yearbook (WCY) by the International Institute for Management Development (IMD), Greece has moved up four positions in the global ranking for competitiveness since 2012. Last year Greece was in 58th place (out of 59 countries) and now ranks 54th out of 60 countries. Greece comes in 6th place in the world in terms of skilled and experienced workforce, 10th place in terms of revenues from tourism, 19th place in terms of exports, and 5th place for very well trained and efficient engineers.


Commercial Rents Decrease by 50%

The average rent in offices and shops in Greece has decreased by 50%, according to a survey by GLP Values. According to money-money.gr, there are indications that rents are now stabilised, provided, it stipulates, there will be no further increase in taxes on property.

The economic crisis affected offices and shops from 2009 – 2010, with average rent reduced by 50% over the past four years.

Now, four years later, office and retail shop rents show signs of stabilisation.


Hochtief Sells Airports Unit to PSP Investments in Revamp

Hochtief AG (HOT) agreed to sell its airports division to Public Sector Pension Investment Board of Canada as Germany’s largest construction company narrows its focus to building.

The deal values the business, which has stakes in airports in Athens, Budapest, Dusseldorf, Hamburg, Sydney and the Albanian capital of Tirana, at about 1.5 billion Euro ($2 billion) and Hochtief will get 1.1 billion Euro as some shares are held by business partners, the Essen, Germany-based builder said in a statement.


Eurobank's International Investment Forum in Athens

Eurobank held an International Investment Forum in Athens on June 25-26, 2013, with 23 leading international investment houses, that manage total assets of more than 3.5 trillion dollars, participating.

The forum offered representatives of foreign companies the opportunity to be informed on the progress of Greece’s privatisation programme, scheduled reforms, investment opportunities, developments in the domestic financial system and the country's strategy to exit the crisis.

Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras, director of the Bank of Greece, George Provopoulos, and Minister for Development and Competitiveness, Kostis Hatzidakis addressed the attendees.