ECONOMY

Third of businesses in the red; upturn seen in 2011

Just over a third of Greek businesses reported a loss in 2009, with a further downturn expected in their financial performance ahead of a likely improvement in 2011, according to research group ICAP. ICAP, which studied the figures of 4,100 companies, corresponding to 10 percent of those obligated to publish their balance sheet, said that 36 percent were in the red as they slashed costs to get through the downturn. «Businesses are having difficulties in increasing their sales and appear to be succeeding in holding back their expenses,» it said in a statement. Company books last year showed a 10.3 percent drop in revenues, while earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) dipped by less than 7 percent. The industrial sector was the worst performer with turnover falling at an annual pace of 18.7 percent, while the service industry had a better year, showing a drop in sales of 2.5 percent. Looking ahead, ICAP said it expects company figures to deteriorate in 2010 with a pick up on the cards expected for next year. «We believe that scheduled structural reforms, international financial aid and the continual monitoring [of Greece’s budgetary position] will lead to an improvement in the business climate,» said Nikitas Konstantellos, managing director at ICAP. «An improvement which will start to be reflected positively in 2011 figures,» he added.