ATHENS – Despite the still raging COVID-19 pandemic that has limited travel for businesses, the prospect of making money when it lifts has seen Greece becoming a prime destination for investors, many of whom left the country during a near decade-long economic and austerity crisis.
Greek banks are among being eyed as well as other companies as well as bringing back businesses that had left during an exodus, with the Athens Stock Exchange rallying.
The four-day Winter Wonderland online conference by Wood Co. showed interest being renewed with a big group of potential investors holding one-on-one meetings with representatives of Greek listed companies.
That included funds which stayed out of the market in Greece after leaving it in 2015 when the anti-business former ruling Radical Left SYRIZA took power and began stymieing investors and blocking major projects already underway.
Although the pandemic is expected to shrink the economy by around 10 percent or more in the wake of two lockdowns aimed at slowing the spread of the virus and anemic growth of only 0.9 percent seed in 2021, potential investors are looking beyond that, the report said.
More than 340 investors participated including major funds such as Amundi, Allianz Global Investors and NN Investments, along with some major Greek companies, including the banks, energy and utility companies.
Among the investors to return after years of absence were East Capital Asset Management, which is among Europe’s biggest long funds, and RWC Partners, which has a strong international presence.
“For 2021, investors see a shift from companies that benefited from teleworking to growth-friendly companies. Bank stocks thrive when economies grow, so the sector is set to enjoy significant inflows, which is further strengthened by the fact that Greece also constitutes an emerging market,” a senior official at a Greek bank who participated in the roadshow told Kathimerini. Some 30 percent of meeting Greek banks had were with investors who left the country years ago.