Foreign investment prospects

As the government and opposition clashed yesterday over direct foreign investment in Greece, news emerged of interest on the part of several German firms to invest in the electricity production and tourism infrastructure sectors. The German interest was confirmed by Josef Ackermann, chairman of the Deutsche Bank Group Executive Committee, on a recent visit to Greece and in talks with business partners and government officials. Deutsche Bank owns 10 percent of EFG Eurobank Ergasias. German electricity group RWE is interested in building conventional power stations, in cooperation with the Latsis group, owners of EFG Eurobank. Seven other electricity firms are interested in investing in renewable energy sources. There have already been 19 applications for wind energy projects. In the tourism sector, German interest is focused on services and infrastructure around existing projects, rather than hotel construction. Interest has been spurred by recent polls, which show that German tourists are less satisfied with the level of services offered in Greece than in Spain, Tunisia and Turkey. In Parliament, a tense dialogue took place between Economy Minister Nikos Christodoulakis and conservative opposition deputies who said that the existing legal framework and bureaucracy turned off prospective investors. Christodoulakis countered that foreign investment had increased at a fast pace during the tenure of the Socialist government because of higher growth and accused the opposition, especially its European Parliament contingent, of slandering the Greek economy abroad. Last month Christodoulakis sacked the chairman of the Hellenic Center for Investment, Costas Bakouris, for releasing a report critical of the government’s investment policy.