What’s in a name

SEV, the Federation of Greek Industries, will later this year change its name for a second time. SEV got its current appellation in the 1980s, shedding the previous name of the Federation of Greek Industrialists. That change signaled the end of the big family businesses and the transition into a new era, in which industries are run not by owners but by professional managers. True as this was, the name change had more to do with the political turnover in the 1970s and 1980s that was dominated by Constantine Karamanlis and then Andreas Papandreou. Because of its economic leverage and political influence (in fact much of the legislation was drafted in the SEV offices on Xenophondos St) as well as the connection between the federation chairmen and the military dictatorship, a change was necessary in the post-1973 period. Even during Papandreou’s hegemony, SEV maintained a strong say on economic policy issues. All these years, SEV was fortunate to be led by people like Leonidas Kanellopoulos, Georgios Drakos, Christoforos Katsambas, Dimitrios Marinopoulos and Theodoros Papalexopoulos. As honorary chairman, Alexander Athanassiades Bodosakis also guided SEV policy. Unfortunately, the new generation of SEV chairmen, in the vein of Odysseas Kyriakopoulos and Dimitris Daskalopoulos, could not keep the federation out of the political friction that took a toll on its image. Times have changed and as the Greek economy became a services market, the role of industry has waned. Many factories have emigrated to neighboring Balkan countries in search of cheap labor and lower taxes. If SEV wishes to remain influential, it will have to open its gates to big tourist enterprises, shipping companies, banks and commerce. That will also reflect on its new name: The Federation of Greek Enterprises. But before all that happens, the old guard will have to let go of its grip on the power monopoly.