Mergers and acquisitions picked up in Greece last year as an improving investment climate led to increased deals, according to figures from business consultancy PricewaterhouseCoopers on Tuesday.
The value of the 85 Greek mergers and acquisitions in 2019 rose 16 percent to 4.3 billion euros ($4.66 billion) from 3.7 billion euros of deals a year earlier, it said. The five biggest deals made up 39 percent or 1.7 billion euros.
The deals included the sale of a majority stake in Piraeus Bank’s loan recovery unit to Swedish loan servicer Intrum, Invel Real Estate’s acquisition of a 32.7 percent stake in National Bank’s Pangaia real estate unit and DryLog’s purchase of a 50 percent stake in Global Chartering.
By contrast, the 20 biggest merger and acquisition deals in Europe last year reached 235 billion euros, with 45 percent taking place in the pharmaceuticals sector, PwC said.
PwC said economic indicators were improving in Greece but the level of investment was not sufficient for strong growth. The cut in corporate tax to 24 percent from 28 percent and halving dividend tax to 5 percent, which will come into effect this year, will support investment appetite, it said.
The government projects the country’s economy will expand by 2.8 percent this year.
Greece’s revenues from privatisations rose slightly last year to 1.2 billion euros, mainly the result of extending a concession to run Athens International Airport (AIA) by 20 years.
Greece owns 55 percent of the airport and wants to sell a 30 percent stake. It has shortlisted 10 investment groups as potential buyers with a final deal expected this year.
Another privatisation expected to take place in 2020 is the sale of a 65 percent stake in Greece’s largest gas utility DEPA.
“M&A deals that have been already agreed and will be completed in 2020 can top 3.3 billion euros, coupled with another 1.6 billion euros from privatisations,” PwC said.
One of last year’s highlights was the turn of Greek corporates to the bond market to raise capital, the result of reduced borrowing costs in Europe, PwC said.
In this space 12 corporate bond deals fetched 4.96 billion euros, a nearly eightfold increase over 2018. Coupons ranged from 0.87 percent to 4.25 percent.