FDI in Greece surges but mainly due to buyouts

Despite a steep rise in foreign direct investment (FDI) in 2006, Greece remained among the laggard members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the organization said in its latest report. FDI in Greece increased almost tenfold in 2006, from $0.6 billion in 2005, to about $5.4 billion (-4.5 billion), lifting the country to 21st from last place among the 30 members of the OECD. The main FDI inflows almost exclusively concerned the acquisition of existing companies and share-capital increases, rather than the founding of new new firms that would boost employment and the competitiveness of the economy. Turkey ranked eighth with FDI inflows of $20 billion, up from $10 billion in 2005. Total FDI in Greece is estimated at $41 billion, while Greek FDI in other countries totals $19 billion. According to Bank of Greece data, most FDI in Greece came from other European Union members, especially those of the eurozone. Of the -4.5 billion, -4 billion originated in the EU (-3.1 billion from the eurozone). The most important FDI inflows were as follows: – Credit Agricole’s -2.1 billion to up its stake in Emporiki Bank from 8.2 percent to 72 percent. – US private equity firms Apax’s and Texas Pacific’s -298 million for the acquisition of Q-Telecommunications. – Dubai Financial Group’s -392-million purchase of 31.5 percent of the share capital of Marfin Financial Group in May. – Unilever’s -203 million for a share capital increase of its subsidiary Unilever Hellas. – OTE telecom’s -342 million after the sale of its controlling stake in Armenia’s Armentel to Vimpel Communications. The most important FDI outflows, which totaled about -2.7 billion in 2006, included National Bank’s -2.3 billion for the acquisition of 46 percent of Turkey’s Finansbank, Intralot’s -69 million for an additional 20 percent stake in Turkey’s Inteltek, EFG Eurobank’s -77 million buyout of Poland’s Eurobank SA Poska and ATEbank’s partial acquisition of Serbia’s Agroindustrijka Komercijana Banka for -93.5 million. FDI in OECD countries rose 22 percent to $910 billion in 2006, thanks to strong corporate profitability and low interest rates. Of this sum, $184 billion was invested in the USA, which, in turn, was the largest exporter of FDI ($240 billion). Greece, France, Iceland, Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Switzerland and Turkey had record rises. The OECD report notes that the biggest deals worldwide took place in the UK services sector, Canadian mines and Luxembourg’s mettalurgy industry.

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