Foreign Investors Scooping Up Greek Businesses During Pandemic

ATHENS — Even the lingering COVID-19 pandemic isn’t slowing interest by foreign companies in acquiring Greek businesses and having a presence in the country whose stock is rising in sectors from hotel to technology and tourism.

So far in 2021, despite a previous lockdown and worries about the Coronavirus still not being put under control, there have been deals estimated to be at least 5.5 billion euros ($6.39 billion) said Kathimerini.

The most recent example was the takeover of 80 branches of Greek sportswear company Cosmos Sport by British group JD Sports, one of the world leaders in this market, the paper noted.

That brought another worldwide figure into Greece, investors attracted not just by the market but by a workforce that is skilled, especially in technology and a range of other fields.

In most cases takeovers have taken place at a cost several times higher than the operating profits (EBITDA) of the companies purchased, the report said, pointing to the potato chip and food company Chipita being acquired by the Chicago-based conglomerate Mondelez.

What multinationals and large foreign funds apparently look for in Greece is companies with a solid base and capital gains, not those on the edge that had been favored previously by distress funds looking to make a killing, even at the cost of the company acquired being taken apart..

Before Chipita’s $2 billion takeover by Mondelez, the food sector also saw the acquisition of Vivartia, which has Goody’s Burgers among its portfolio, by the CVC Capital Partners fund in Luxembourg for 175 million euros ($203.15 million), and assuming 620 million euros ($720 million) in debt.

CVC also obtained a 70 percent stake in the major Greek dairy industry Dodoni at about 10 times its EBITDA and signed an agreement for the acquisition of 90.01 percent of Ethniki, Greece’s biggest insurer, for only 505 million euros ($586.23 million) the report added.

Another fund, BC Partners from London taking over the mobile phone and communications company Wind Hellas at an estimated price of 970 million ($1.126 billion) following its takeover of Nova/Forthnet in 2020.

That came after divesting from Pharmathen, the pharmaceuticals company it bought in 2015, selling it to Partners Group for $1.6 billion.


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