Dubai to increase Marfin stake

Dubai Financial LLC, a state-owned investment company in the United Arab Emirates, plans to increase its stake in Greek buyout firm Marfin Investment Group SA (MIG) and in Cypriot lender Marfin Popular Bank Public Co to 20 percent and 30 percent, respectively. Dubai yesterday bought 19.8 million Marfin Popular shares at -12 apiece to bring its stake to 19.9 percent from 17.4 percent, Marfin Invest said today in a bourse filing. Dubai has also agreed to buy 53.5 million Marfin Invest shares at -7 apiece to own 16 percent of the company from currently 9.6 percent, the statement said. «The aim of Marfin Group is to become one of the biggest European business groups with a total capitalization of more than -140 billion within five years,» said the founding stakeholder of the group, Andreas Vgenopoulos, in a press conference following Dubai’s announcement. Referring particularly to the strategy of MIG, Vgenopoulos said that its major moves in Greece have been completed and the group’s target right now is the strengthening of its companies through mergers and acquisitions in the broader region of Southeastern Europe. He added that MIG is a business group and not a fund and does not intend to sell companies to reap gains but its strategy is to make them bigger. MIG is a Greek success story and will continue to be in Greece, he stressed. Asked about the group’s intentions regarding OTE and the possibility of raising MIG’s stake in it from the current 15 percent, Vgenopoulos said: «We are not prepared to show our cards yet. It is an open affair» and added his group’s relations with OTE President and CEO Panagis Vourloumis are excellent. «We have full confidence in the OTE management and in the forthcoming general meeting of the company we shall authorize Vourloumis to vote for MIG’s stake, too,» said Vgenopoulos, noting that MIG does not dispute the dominant role of the state in OTE, which is taken for granted. (Bloomberg, Kathimerini)