News in Brief – April 2022
- Debt Repayment – Greece paid back the last of its outstanding debts to the International Monetary Fund two years ahead of schedule, marking another milestone in the country’s fiscal consolidation. The early repayment of the outstanding loans worth €1.86 billion, which date from Greece’s financial crisis, will save the government some €230 million in interest.
- Jobs Growth – Greece’s unemployment rate fell to 12.8% in February, its lowest level since 2010 at the start of the country’s protracted financial crisis, declining by more than three percentage points from a 16.1% rate a year earlier. According to the latest data from the Hellenic Statistical Authority, Greece’s economy added more than 450,000 jobs in the past year.
- Tech Investment – Japanese technology leader NTT Data has opened an office in Athens, the latest global tech giant to invest in the Greek market. Noting that Greece has become an outstanding operational base for major tech companies, thanks to the country’s pool of skilled workers, the company, a part of Japan’s NTT Group, said it aimed to recruit more than 400 local staff by 2026.
- Data Centers – Greece’s Inter-ministerial Committee for Strategic Investments has approved a €1 billion Microsoft project to develop data centers for inclusion in the country’s strategic investment program. The project, which now receives Fast Track status, consists of three data centers and technological business support at two separate locations near Athens.
- Data Centers II – Athens has emerged as one of the top 10 destinations in Europe – and the only destination in Southern Europe − for data center operations, according to a report by Cushman & Wakefield, a global commercial real estate services firm. The report notes recent investments by U.S. tech giants Microsoft and Amazon in and around Athens, and highlights the importance of access to global fiber cable as a key factor in determining data center locations.
- Real Estate Investors – Foreign direct investment in Greek real estate jumped by more than a third last year to surpass €1 billion, according to the Bank of Greece, spurred, in part, by a revival in the country’s Golden Visa program. In 2021, FDI in Greek property rose 34.4% to €1.17 billion from €875 million a year earlier. The number of Golden Visas issued last year rose 10.3%.
- Banks Upgrade – International credit ratings agency Moody’s upgraded Greece’s four systemic banks by one to two notches and affirmed its positive outlook for the lenders. Noting that the banks face better macroeconomic prospects, stronger balance sheets and improving profitability, the agency upgraded Eurobank and National Bank of Greece by two notches each, to Ba3 from B2; Alpha Bank by one notch to B1 from B2; and Piraeus Bank by one notch to B2 from B3.