BUSINESS

Data centers: A big opportunity for Greece

ATHINA SKOLARIKOU (partner) & ANTONIS GIANNAKODIMOS (senior associate)

TAGS: Business and the Law

BY ZEPOS & YANNOPOULOS

The ominous cloud of the Covid-19 pandemic has not been without its silver lining. More than any other event in recent history, it has brought to forth the need to be able to work remotely, for individuals and corporations alike. As a consequence, the importance of data – which has always been vital in all aspects of human life – has created a veritable boom in the market of data centers. And investing in this market has become a global Eldorado.

Naturally, technology giants are at the forefront of the surge and – here’s more good news – Greece features prominently on their radar. Microsoft’s September 2020 announcement of the construction of a data center in the area of Attica, along with the Digital Realty Group’s acquisition of Lamda Hellix SA (Greece’s largest carrier and cloud-neutral colocation provider featuring the biggest data center campus in Southeastern Europe) are just two prominent examples. In addition, Amazon has already expressed an interest in playing a part in the reshaping of Greece as a technology hub, while Google is expected to announce the construction of its own data center in Europe.

What are the main benefits of investing in data centers in Greece? And, more importantly, what are the possible obstacles?

Investing in any country is, in large part, a cost-driven decision. In the case of data centers, the costs of energy, leasing of optical fiber, and construction – whether that’s on leased or purchased land – play a pivotal role. (Not surprisingly, the hotter the climate, the more energy is required for the cooling of data center hardware.) Other pivotal factors include local telecommunications infrastructure, utilities, labor cost and political stability.

When compared to Northern or Central European countries, Greece offers some unique advantages: These are the lower cost of leasing or purchasing land, the country’s geostrategic location which serves as a gateway to East Asia and Africa, and the level of Greek qualified professionals. When combined with several incentives provided by the Greek government, the country’s offering becomes highly attractive.

However, there’s a caveat. And that’s no other than the labyrinthine legal framework that regulates most key aspects of establishing and operating a data center in Greece. Particular emphasis should be given to areas such as site acquisition and town planning/development due diligence, data privacy, cyber security, tax and business structuring, licensing, regulatory and telecommunications compliance, as well as day-to-day operational issues.

Therefore, it is very important to seek a full-spectrum consultancy service before, during and after deciding to invest in the world of data centers. Only then will you be able to take full-advantage of one of the 4th Industrial Revolution’s most exciting opportunities.

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