ECONOMY

Listed companies fail to deliver promised investment schemes

Hundreds of millions of euros raised by companies listed on the Athens bourse during the stock market’s bull run four years ago have yet to be invested, despite ambitious plans to do so already outlined by the companies involved. A number of listed firms have since chosen to park the funds in bank deposits, government paper and repos, opting for low-risk, low-performing alternatives as retail investors still await the impressive returns they were promised. Intrasoft: According to recently published data disclosed by listed companies on how they have disposed of share capital raised at the end of 2003, software provider Intrasoft has yet to make use of its capital. Intrasoft, which has since merged with parent telecoms equipment provider Intracom, has placed 100 million euros of the 270 million it raised in cash and term deposits. At the end of 2003, another member of the Intracom family, Intracom Construction, had placed about a third of its share capital in repos and bank deposits. The construction group had tapped the market for 8.95 million euros. The majority of the undisposed capital will be invested finally in Aethas Energy, which operates in renewable energy sources. Bank of Attica: This is an impressive case as the bank completed a 62.4-million-euro share capital increase, of which 52.4 million was expected to go toward improving its capital adequacy. However, as of end-2003, most of those funds (58.2 million euros) were invested in government bonds and deposits in the interbank market. Lambrakis Press (DOL): DOL has completed a radical turnaround as far as its original investment program was concerned. Investments headed for cable television and the Internet reaching 117 million euros were slashed to 31 million euros when the global Internet bubble burst. The largest chunk of capital went to participating in its subsidiaries’ share capital increases, takeovers and cutting down on bank debt. Hellenic Petroleum: About 100 million euros of the 126 million raised by the country’s largest refinery during its public share offer in 2001 can be found in short-term, low-risk bank deposits. Altec Group: Six of the 8 million euros which the IT group put in its coffers from a share capital increase to fund geographic expansion and strengthen its facilities eventually went toward cutting debt instead. Altec management says that it decided against the original investment plan in order to better manage the funds and as a reaction to continuing instability in the Balkan region. In essence, however, the share capital which was meant to fund growth plans was used to cover «black holes» appearing after the Athens bourse started its three-year slide. Livanis Group: Half of the 4 million euros the publishing group raised in 2002 is still «heading for investment.» Agricultural Insurance: It proceeded with a 54-million-euro share capital increase in 2000, a year after it was initially floated on the Athens bourse, when it tapped 17.9 million euros from the market. Of the 54-million euro-sum, 38.5 million is still lying idle. Astir Pallas: The hotel group, which went public in 2001, has placed 24.7 million (from the 41 million euros it raised) in repos. Keranis: The case of holding company Keranis, one of the biggest bubbles on the Greek stock market during the «crazy period,» is of course not alone. During the three-year period (1998-2000) hundreds of millions of euros were raised in the name of expansion plans locally and abroad, accompanied also by announcements of buyouts from China to the United States. Specifically, Keranis raised 41.3 million euros based on an investment plan to buy out a tobacco company in the neighboring Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and the construction of a factory in Albania. Most of the money, however, went toward ensuring its own survival, while at the end of 2003, about 11 million euros remained to be spent.