Companies eye H/Q shift to Balkans

The heads of several Greek companies listed on the Athens bourse are examining the possibility of moving their headquarters abroad due to a higher number of taxes being imposed on them and the liquidity squeeze in the market. «The issue of moving headquarters abroad had been looked upon in the past in relation to labor costs. We are very concerned [about market conditions] and are considering every possibility,» the chairman of a metals company said. The first public comments on the issue came from Intralot CEO Constantinos Antonopoulos who told shareholders last week that foreign investors ask him why the company is still based in Greece, when most of its income comes from abroad. «Our foreign shareholders are putting pressure on us to move. First the crisis must pass in order for us to make the right decisions,» he said. Companies point to an increased tax burden aimed at supporting state revenues for the next four years, as weighing on their competitiveness, adding that they are no longer in a position to absorb hikes in value-added tax on their products. «If the situation doesn’t improve, we are ready to move ahead with staff cuts. As a second stage, we will move headquarters to Bulgaria, were the tax rate is much lower,» added another source from the industrial sector.