ECONOMY

Foreign investors not overly concerned about political risk

Foreign investors have begun to weigh political developments in Greece as the election of a new president gets closer without the possibility of an early general election having being ruled out. However, judging by the success of the 9th Annual Greek Roadshow organized by the Athens Exchanges in London last week, they are not concerned about the country’s economy, saying that the macroeconomic figures are gradually improving after a couple of nightmare years.

This year’s presentation of 31 Athens-listed companies to the biggest global investment funds took place in a clearly improved environment compared to last year’s, to say nothing of 2012, when fears concerning the course of the country’s economy were running high.

Last year the government had proclaimed the emergence of a primary budget surplus a year earlier than planned. This year it stressed that the surplus is sustainable. But the first questions that were put to Greek corporate officials concerned a starting date for talks on Greek debt relief, according to the decision of the Eurogroup in November 2012, given the uncertainty arising from the presidential election scheduled for next spring. In response to a question about investors’ concern about the political risk, ATHEX head Sokratis Lazaridis said that the most important feature for foreign investors is the prospects of the listed firms. He added that the impressive participation in the roadshow and the records broken illustrate just how interested investors are in Greece.

“We are in a period when investor interest in Greece is growing,” stressed Odysseas Athanasiou, managing director at Lamda Development. There is much noise about Greece, he added, noting that if opposition party SYRIZA does win the next general election there may be some delays, but in general terms the country will proceed on a positive course.

Intralot Chief Executive Constantinos Antonopoulos said enterprises will continue regardless of the election result, while National Bank Chairman Giorgos Zannias said during his speech at the roadshow that optimism has returned to the Greek economy, imbalances have been righted and growth has returned on a quarterly basis.