BUSINESS

Helikon boldly buying Greek

helikon-boldly-buying-greek

It was at the end of 2019, before the threat of the pandemic reached Europe, when five Italian fund managers decided to leave Kairos, the Italian fund management subsidiary of Swiss investment bank Julius Baer, to start their own venture.

Today Federico Riggio, Michele Fiumara, David Grazzini, Vittorio Villa and Flavio Russo, joined by Paul McLernon (formerly of Pacific Asset Management and Goldman Sachs), have created Helikon Investments Ltd, based in London. The investment house manages more than 1 billion euros, recording solid returns to date. Yet what makes this rather moderate hedge fund stand out is that Helikon Investments has invested a significantly high share of its funds in Greek groups. It is now one of the main stakeholders in two systemic banks (Eurobank and Piraeus), Public Power Corporation and Piraeus Port Authority (OLP). All those stakes are above 5%.

This means that the Helikon managers have significant expectations of their holdings of Greek listed firms, as they take up a large share of the fund’s portfolio. It is now also investing in foreign groups with exposure in Greece, as its statement on the purchase of shares in Eldorado Gold, which controls Hellas Gold, shows.

Based on recent figures released by Bloomberg, Helikon Investments recorded returns of 24% from its investments over the year’s first three-quarters. Its strategy has been to go after undervalued stocks with major growth prospects.

The latest filings in the Greek bourse reveal that Helikon now controls 5.376% of OLP, in which the main stakeholder holds 67% and the state has another 7%. That holding has been built through small transactions over several months. Helikon further controls 6.4788% of PPC, 5.17% of Eurobank and 5.216% of Piraeus Bank. It had also invested in Lamda Development, but has now pulled out of the Greek company. Market sources say that the fund decided to liquidate its shares in order to obtain the necessary capital to participate in the PPC share capital increase.

It is unknown which investors have entrusted Helikon with their capital.