GIG Economic Bulletin – February 28, 2022

The start of 2022 has seen a flurry of corporate deals, leading to expectations of a bumper year for M&A activity. Fitch has issued upgrades on all four systemic banks in recognition of significant reductions in their NPE stocks, which now stand at 15%.

Economic BulletinInsights
International ratings agency Fitch has upgraded Greece’s systemic banks on the back of a reduction of the NPE stock to 15%. M&A activity in 2022 sets prospects for a record-breaking year, while IPTO/ADMIE is expediting work on cross-border electrical interconnections with neighbours including Albania, Bulgaria, North Macedonia, Italy and Egypt.

Macro

The 13th Enhanced Surveillance Report highlights positive prospects for the Greek economy and the good state of tax revenues, while progress in the drop of NPEs is also noted, down to 15% by Q3 2021. The report pinpoints fiscal risks on the pandemic and the energy fronts.

NBG sees growth exceeding 9.5% and the primary deficit coming in at around 5.5% to 6% of GDP, 1.5% to 2% below the budget estimate for 2021. The debt ratio is expected to drop to 183% of GDP in 2022.

Bank of Greece Governor Yannis Stournaras told FAZ that he foresees the national debt dropping by 3.5% annually in the near future. Stournaras noted that no eurozone country will be reducing its debt load faster than Greece. Regarding the debt profile, the average interest rate on the debt is 1.4% and the duration at 20.5 years.

Total hires for January reached 137,983, against 163,787 departures, with firings higher by 69,257 compared to 2020 according to the Labour Ministry’s Ergani database. Although January is traditionally a month of negative balances, this January is the fifth worst in the last 21 years.

The average wage in 2021 was €1,118, up from €1,050 in 2020 according to data from the Labour Ministry’s Ergani database. However, a third of workers in Greece receive a gross salary of less than €700. 

Retail sales topped €54 billion in 2021, up 11.9% on 2020 and 2.34% above pre-pandemic levels recorded in 2019 according to the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT).

The value of corporate deals in the first 37 working days of 2022 has exceeded €700 million, led by the CVC/Ethniki Asfalistiki and Allianz/Evropaïki Pisti deals in the insurance sector.

Energy

IPTO/ADMIE is speeding up work on electrical interconnections with neighbouring countries including Albania, Bulgaria, North Macedonia, Italy and Egypt, with the 400 kV Greece-Bulgaria interconnector first in line for 2022.

Construction could start in 2022 on 3 new gas-fired power stations. GEK Terna and Motor Oil are building a 876 MW unit in Komotini, Copelouzos Group is planning a 840 MW station in Alexandroupolis, and Elpedison is looking at a 826 MW unit in Thessaloniki.

Logistics

The logistics sector employed 200,000 people and contributed 10% to GDP in 2019 according to a study by EEL, the Greek logistics association, which identifies digitisation as the top priority for the sector.

Piraeus: A logistics powerhouse. Copyright: Aerial-motion / Shutterstock.com

Digital

OTE recorded net profits of €492.4 million in 2021, 19.8% up on the previous year. The company’s plans include a €500-million dividend distribution and a €250-million share buyback programme. OTE is accelerating its €3-billion fibre-to-home programme, increasing annual spend by €100 million until 2027.

Electricity provider Volton will be entering the mobile telecoms market as Greece’s first virtual provider after signing an agreement with Vodafone.

Tourism

Revenues from tourism totalled €10.65 billion in 2021, equivalent to 58% of 2019 levels and more than twice those of 2020, according to the Bank of Greece.

Shipping

Greek shipowners spent around $7.2 billion on purchases and concluded sales totalling $9.2 billion in the first six weeks of 2022, topping both categories of transactions globally. VesselsValue reports Greek shipowners purchased 18 LNG carriers valued at a total $3.63 billion and 14 LPG carriers worth a total $823 million in 2021, making them the biggest investors in the sector globally.

Piraeus container port slipped in the global rankings in 2021, falling to 29th position from 27th according to Alphaliner. Piraeus is the only port in the list to have experienced a decline in traffic in 2020 and 2021.

Banks

Fitch Ratings has upgraded all four systemic banks on the back of reductions in their NPE ratios. Alpha has gone to B from CCC+, Piraeus to B- from CCC+, and NBG and Eurobank, accordingly, to B+ from B-.

Bain, Fortress and doValue are forming a mega-consortium to bid for the PQH’s €5.2-billion Ariadne portfolio with Davidson Kempner, which until recently was rumoured to be working for a rival bid. PQH is the administrator appointed to clean up the NPEs of banks which closed during the financial crisis. Without a competing bid, Bank of Greece may have to decide the outcome.

Stock Market

The ASE general index closed with weekly losses of -3.01% at 927.25 points, despite a 4.38% rebound on Friday. Large caps were down -3.42% and banking stocks lost -4.22% as the situation in Ukraine led to worldwide selloffs.

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