Listed firms urged to boost marketability

Capital Market Commission (CMC) President Alexis Pilavios has recently launched a campaign to boost the marketability of Greek stocks. He is missing no opportunity to urge listed company owners to float their shares, noting that about three-quarters of firms do not have adequate marketability. He argues that adequate dispersion is necessary for one of the 300 foreign funds active in Greece to add them to their portfolios. Besides, marketability is precisely the point of listing a stock on a bourse, he adds. His efforts may be having some effect. Indeed, something seems to be changing in the philosophy of quite a few owners of listed firms, who are holding road shows for foreign funds and increasing their placements. And for a good reason. Ninety-six of 368 firms listed on the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE) meet the criteria for inclusion in the so-called International Market Index, which comes into effect on December 1, according to capitalizations based on Thursday’s closing prices. The basic criteria are a capitalization exceeding 100 million euros, marketability above 15 percent annually, and share dispersion of more than 20 percent. Most of the 96 firms meeting the criteria at present are, expectedly, included in the FTSE indices for blue chips and mid-caps. The three top spots on the list, with the best average rates of marketability, are occupied by banks National and Alpha and gaming firm OPAP. Hellenic Exchanges, the holding company of the ASE, follows closely behind, along with other blue chips with an outward-looking orientation and that are strongly active abroad, attracting the interest of foreign funds. Characteristic examples of this type of firm are electronics retailer Germanos, Titan Cement, jewelry maker Folli-Follie and chemicals firm Neochimiki. Packaging and strapping materials maker Maillis has increased its portion of share capital held by foreigners, largely as a result of satisfactory growth rates and the recent successful completion of a plan to integrate the group’s many different units into an integrated whole. The top flight also includes ferry operator Minoan Lines, which has returned to profitability, and Duty Free Shops, which besides high marketability and capitalization, also has ambitious expansion targets.