GIG Economic Bulletin – 28 June 2021

Several major investments took decisive steps to launch this past week, including the emblematic seafront redevelopment at Hellinikon, Line 4 of the Athens Metro and Greece’s Ultra-Fast Broadband network. The government is aiming to hit annual growth rates averaging 4% to underpin its Medium-Term Fiscal Strategy to 2025.

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Greece’s investment landscape made waves last week following the conclusion of a succession of deals including the iconic Hellinikon urban redevelopment project, Athens Metro’s Line 4, and the country’s Ultra-Fast Broadband project. Meanwhile, phase II of the Freight Centre Complex at Thriasio was completed, a strategic step in creating Greece’s first integrated logistics hub.

Macro

Greece’s Medium-Term Fiscal Strategy entails a return to strong growth that will add €50 billion to Greek GDP by 2025. It also foresees leaving the pandemic deficits behind, an immediate reduction of banks’ NPEs to single digits, and securing investment grade for Greek bonds by mid-2023. The Finance Ministry wants to achieve solid annual growth rates averaging 4% in the forecast horizon of 2022-2025, while leaving open the prospect of an upward revision of this year’s growth rate.

Greece almost doubled its travel balance surplus in April, taking it to €9.6 million compared to €4.9 for the same month last year, according to figures from the Bank of Greece (BoG). However, over the first four months of 2021 the travel balance fell to €28.8 million, reflecting a -86% drop Y-o-Y.

Manpower Organisation (OAED) data for May shows unemployment higher by 83,000 compared to the same period of 2019, capturing an increase during the pandemic which is not yet reflected in official unemployment statistics. Furloughs reached 645,000 staff at their peak, with the latest data showing 202,000 workers currently on suspended contracts. The 290,000 companies that received the latest round of tax advance refunds are obliged to keep staff levels up to the end of August.

Greece’s per capita GDP retreated to 64% of the EU average based on the purchasing power of 2020, according to the latest Eurostat data, showing the effect of the pandemic on the heels of the financial crisis. Greece’s per capita GDP was at 95% of the EU average in 2009.

Greek Government Bonds (GGBs)

Bank analysts see Greece issuing another €1-€3.5 billion of debt in the second half of the year, going beyond its debt strategy objectives. Citi sees Greece re-opening the book on the 5-year bond issued in May, extending its size by €1 billion to €4 billion. JP Morgan, on the other hand, expects Greece to issue €3.5 billion towards a total debt strategy of €15 billion in 2021.

Investment

The Development and Investment Ministry kicked off the National Growth Programme of 2021-2025 with a budget of €10 billion funded from own resources. The ministry is also looking at simplifying the approval procedures to enable projects to meet eligibility criteria to gain the necessary clearances and sign offs in a prompt manner.

Digital

The Ministry of Digital Governance has invited binding bids for the Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFBB) project, one of the biggest public-private partnerships in Europe with a budget of €870 million. The target of the project, which is part of the government’s digital transformation plan, is to set up 750,000 high-speed internet connections at 100 Mbps, upgradable to 1Gbps, according to the guidelines of the EU’s “Connectivity for a European Gigabit Society” plan.

Copyright: SOMKID THONGDEE/ Shutterstock

Hellinikon

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis welcomed the signing of the agreement for the transfer of Hellinikon SA to Lamda Development, which marks the start of the largest private investment in Greece. The Hellinikon urban redevelopment project is expected to bring €8 billion of investment and create 75,000 long term jobs, adding 2.4% to Greece’s GDP.

Transport & Logistics

Railway infrastructure operator ERGOSE has completed phase II of the Freight Centre Complex at Thriasio, paving the way for it to become the first integrated logistics hub in Greece. The project, which has a budget of €60.2 million will integrate the different branches of the railway network and connect it to the Port of Ikonio, Athens International Airport, and the road network.

ERGOSE is due to put out to tender €4 billion worth of network projects during Q3. The company is planning six major strategic projects designed to upgrade the existing railway network and improve linkages with other transport modes, laying the groundwork for Greece to become a regional transport hub.

The agreement for the construction of Line 4 of the Athens Metro was concluded between Attiko Metro SA and the Avax-Ghella-Alstom consortium. The €1.2-billion project will add 13 km of track and 15 new stations to the network, and will take eight years to complete.

Banks

The book opens this week on Alpha Bank’s €800 million share capital increase. The HFSF, which currently holds a 10.95% stake on behalf of the Greek state, has announced that it will participate in the capital raise, but will aim to reduce its holding to 9%. According to media reports, John Paulson, who currently holds a 5.6% stake, also plans to participate, as does asset manager Schroders.

Stock Market

The ASE general index closed the week at 907.76 points scraping weekly gains of 0.24% after a week marked by low trading volumes.

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