ECONOMY

Greek business preparing to tap contacts during Olympic Games

Business leaders and representatives of big media companies attending the Olympic Games in a few months’ time will make up the most numerous, qualitative and longest gathering of economically influential people from around the world ever to have taken place in Greece. How do we prepare to tap this opportunity by providing an adequate briefing of the country’s institutions, infrastructure and comparative advantages for investment? «A decision for implementing a foreign investment scheme is a very serious matter, based on analytical feasibility studies and negotiations. We, therefore, do not expect specific results from briefings alone, but to provide a sense of the availability of adequate information in this field certainly creates a favorable climate,» says a senior executive of a large company who wished to remain anonymous. Alpha Bank, Grand Sponsor of the Olympic Games in the banking sector, has undertaken the biggest hospitality program for about 3,000 Greek and foreign business leaders and prominent personalities. Alpha’s senior managers and staff will be available for specific briefings and to facilitate meetings with businesspeople and visits to various parts of the country. Other banks have prepared similar programs, but on a much smaller scale. The National Bank of Greece, with a presence in 18 countries, is planning to host partners and staff in foreign subsidiaries of the group, particularly in the Balkans, as is EFG Eurobank. Emporiki Bank (formerly Commercial) is focusing mainly on the staff of its French strategic partner, Credit Agricole. The Hellenic Center for Investment (ELKE) has shouldered the main burden of the information campaign for attracting participants toward the creation of joint ventures with Greek firms. Within this framework, it has set up the Athens Business Club (ABC) 2004, which is supported by the State and Athens 2004, the Games organizers. ABC 2004’s services during the events will be housed in the Sarogleion Mansion near Syntagma Square. ABC 2004 has planned more than 100 events, where the speakers include ministers, managing directors and presidents of Greek organizations and firms. The center will be open daily, from 8 a.m. till midnight, with full secretarial and translation services, while the staff of the Hellenic Export Promotion Organization (HEPO) will be available for consultation. Greek and foreign businesspeople already have an open line of communication through ABC 2004’s website (www.ABC2004.gr), which already has more than 750 members. They have access to a data bank that includes information and data on Greek firms and analytical data on the Greek economy. The Athens Stock Exchange, the General Secretariat for the Olympic Games and employers’ organizations provide active support to ABC 2004.