ECONOMY

Market regulator proposes venture capital trusts

The Hellenic Capital Market Commission is making a series of proposals that aim to boost the liquidity and functioning of Greek capital markets and to make it easier for foreign investors to invest in the country, HCMC president Constantinos Botopoulos said on Wednesday.

?We?re now in a period in Greece where the focus has to be on development and we all have to look at how to do this,? Botopoulos told reporters in Athens. ?From now on the success of Greece?s debt swap exchange will depend on the course of the country?s economy.?

Proposed measures include the creation of listed Greek venture capital trusts, or VCTs, that have tax advantages for investors and which also boost development by enabling financing of new and smaller companies in key areas such as exports, Botopoulos said. ?There is large and serious interest from foreign investors to invest in Greek companies that operate in sectors such as energy, agriculture, real estate and infrastructure, and if we?re proposing VCTs it?s because the interest is there,? he said.

The proposals will be discussed with the Finance Ministry over the next month with the aim of having them in place by June, if approved, Botopoulos said. VCTs allow investors to buy shares in a listed company that invests in private companies. The HCMC, which regulates Greek capital markets, will look at lifting a ban on short-selling on the Athens Stock Exchange when the current prohibition ends on July 25, Botopoulos said.

?It was introduced for psychological reasons and we?re looking at how things progress in the post-public sector involvement period,? he said. [Bloomberg]