ECONOMY

Shipowners are proving to be very successful on land as well

Greek shipowners are proving to be «good captains,» not only at sea but also on land, in recent years investing in various sectors with great success despite the bureaucracy they must overcome. The investment upsurge on land is no coincidence for Greek shipowners. It reflects the high profits they have enjoyed in recent years, both from sales of ships and their operation. International analysts estimate that local shipowners daily earn tens of millions of dollars, while their cash flow is estimated at about $120 billion. This then explains how many shipowners can invest considerable amounts of money in the mass media, real estate, banks and shopping centers, while even donating to charity foundations. Shipowners’ investments are by no means a recent phenomenon. They began several years ago and are now increasing at a rapid rate. Observers believe that if the state had had a more precise institutional framework for investment with less bureaucracy, the non-marine investments by shipowners would have been far greater and more enhanced in terms of quality, creating conditions for further economic development and thousands of new jobs. Real estate investment One of the first shipowners to start investing on land was Vassilis Constantakopoulos, who envisioned a major tourism investment in his hometown of Kalamata in the Peloponnese back in 1997. Yet from the outset he ran into huge problems. Today it appears that the problems have been resolved and the investment can be completed within the next two to three years. The complex planned will initially include four luxury hotels, two golf courses, a conference center, spa units and an artificial lake that will upgrade the area. The second phase will involve the creation of another seven hotel units and two more golf courses, creating 1,000 new jobs. The total cost of the investment is estimated at -750 million. Sources suggest that this shipowner has secured an agreement with a major tour operator active in Southeast Asia for it to undertake the management of the complex at Pota, near Kalamata. This could potentially change the tourism flow to Greece and even more importantly raise the quality of incoming tourism. Constantakopoulos has already created a modern town in the US, covering 2 square kilometers, and whose main avenue is named after the late Greek minister and actress, Melina Mercouri. In another state he has bought an expanse of land on which he has created a modern vineyard and has already presold its entire production for one decade. Other shipowners too have expanded into real estate: Leonidas Evgenidis-Dimitriadis has constructed a deluxe hotel on Sifnos. Miltos Kambouridis has along with Capital Dolphin gathered -350 million which he intends to invest in Cyprus and Greece, creating 11 large hotel units. Constantinos Martinos bought the plot next to the Karaiskaki stadium at Neo Faliron. Grigoris Hatzieleftheriadis and Yiannis Karastamatis are acquiring hotels in Karpenissi, central Greece. Giorgos Prokopiou has acquired a building on Stadiou Street in central Athens. Victor Restis founded the Assos Property Investors Ltd company. Diamantis Diamantidis has bought properties in the area of Legrena, near Sounion, from the Goulandris-Horn foundation. Bulgaria shopping center One of the biggest investment moves planned for Bulgaria, involving the construction of a mall costing -150 million, is by realized by shipowner Ioannis Koustas. His company, Danaos Shipping, has already secured a plot of 50,000 square meters about 6 kilometers from the center of Sofia in order to erect a building with a total surface of 250,000 square meters. This investment, being realized in cooperation with construction companies and banks, is aimed at creating a modern building in Sofia that will house offices and stores which will later be sold or leased. At present, efforts are focused on obtaining the necessary license for the investment. In addition to its shipping activity, Danaos is also breaking ground in the supply of integrated information technology solutions. It began its activity in the shipping domain, developing and installing its pioneering [email protected] system of electronic communication in many companies in Greece and abroad. The system fully covers the communication needs of all modern and rapidly developing enterprises. In the shipping sector, it is estimated that the system meets 70 percent of the needs of Greek shipping offices and ships with IT systems. The Livinia group of Panos and Thanassis Laskaridis has also continued to invest in the last few years. It has put over 100 million euros into the «Grande Bretagne» hotel in central Athens, in casinos and in the shipping companies Hellenic Seaways and Minoan Lines. It is meanwhile negotiating the acquisition of 51 percent of listed company Elmec Sport. Panos Laskaridis also has a stake in Aegean Airlines. Mass media A few months ago Theodoros Angelopoulos bought the Eleftheros Typos newspaper. On 19 April this year, Victor Restis caused a stir by offering 7.8 million euros and acquiring 33.4 percent of IMAKO, the publishing company of Petros Costopoulos, just a few days later acquiring a further 5.02 percent in the same company from shipowner Nikos Pateras. He was recently reported to have increased his stake in the Lymberis Publications group from 2.18 percent to 5.01 percent. Restis has in recent months been very active in sales and acquisitions of companies. In late 2006 he bought 51 percent of FB Bank, before selling this stake to Pavlos Psomiadis of Alpha Bank. Finally, Evangelos Marinakis recently acquired a 25 percent stake in Skai television. He has succeeded his father in the latter’s shipping company and today is chairman of Capital Product Partners, which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

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