Fairfax chief shows confidence in Greece and its government

By Yiannis Papadoyiannis

Fairfax Financial Holdings founder and chief executive Prem Watsa has expressed optimism to Kathimerini regarding the course of the Greek economy and said he was impressed by government efforts to improve conditions in the country.

The Canadian businessman said he and his firm were attracted to Greece by its opportunities and people, above all Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, who impressed with his dedication and resolve to reform the economy. Watsa also mentioned Eurobank Properties and Eurobank officials, adding that there are many entrepreneurs in Greece who are smart, hardworking and active and who will not stop until the country is able to stand on its own two feet again.

Regarding Fairfax’s involvement in Eurobank as a strategic investor, he said that his firm holds long-term objectives, believing that the lender will be one of the cornerstones of the Greek economy’s success. Watsa stressed that given the structure of the country’s economy, the domain of small and medium-sized enterprises, particularly outward-looking ones, could play a very important role in improving the macroeconomic climate.

Back in 2012, Fairfax bucked the trend and started investing in Greece, at a time when insecurity and concern regarding Greece’s future in the European Union were the order of the day. Watsa said that Fairfax invests in value and seeks out opportunities in places from which other investors choose to stay away.

As for future investment plans, he said that Fairfax will continue to look for good investment opportunities. He underscored that Greece’s future is bright as long as political stability is maintained so as to continue the implementation of reforms, and pointed to the recent sovereign bond issue as a sign of investors’ satisfaction with recent Greek reforms.