GIG Economic Bulletin – January 17, 2022

Ratings agency Fitch has upgraded its outlook for Greece from stable to positive, paving the way for a potential ratings upgrade, which bank analysts say could come before the end of 2022. Plans are shaping up for major infrastructure projects across energy, road, and rail transport.

Economic BulletinInsights
An upgrade in outlook for Greece to positive from international ratings agency Fitch has created prospects for a potential ratings upgrade within the next 18 months, while credit expansion is on the rise. Multi-billion infrastructure and energy projects gain momentum, as Greece’s property market continues to gain international investor interest.

Macro

Inflation jumped to 5.1% in December according to the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT). The average CPI for 2021 was 1.2%, the highest since 2012, with energy prices leading the way. The November import price index was up 25% Y-o-Y compared to 33.9% in October.

Greece’s Industrial Production Index rose by 8% Y-o-Y in November after a jump of 16.5% in October, according to data from ELSTAT. The growth was driven by a 9.1% increase in manufacturing, 5.9% in mining and quarrying, and 4.7% in electricity production.

Economic sentiment dropped by 3.1 points in December to 110.3 points according to the index published by the European Commission. Since the start of the year, economic sentiment has improved by 18.5 points. Consumer confidence, however, dropped by 2.4 points to -43.2 after a rise of 3.9 points in November.

Youth unemployment jumped to 39% in November from 32.8% in October, to top the EU league table. The trend is causing concern, as it comes at a time of falling headline unemployment.

GGBs

Ratings agency Fitch upgraded its outlook for Greece to positive from stable, leading to the prospect of a rating review in the next 12 to 18 months, providing a boost for the PDMA’s €12-billion debt strategy. Fitch sees Greece growing by 4.1% this year, after 8.3% in 2020. The debt ratio is seen dropping to 190.3% in 2022, from 198.4% in 2021, and 206.3% in 2020.

Analysts at Danske Bank and JP Morgan believe Greece has a good chance of achieving investment grade in 2022. JP Morgan gives a 90% probability of an upgrade by Moody’s and 75% for S&P, Fitch, and DBRS.

Infrastructure

Consortia are lining up to bid on six railway projects about to go to tender by ERGOSE, ranging from €53.4 million to €1.68 billion. GEK Terna is teaming up with Intrakat and Siemens, while Aktor and Mytilineos are joining forces to bid for the projects, which include new lines and upgrades on existing lines.

Energy

IPTO’s (known by its Greek acronym as ADMIE) 10-year plan calls for total investments of €4 billion in electricity networks and storage, with more than half the capital expenditure earmarked for the period through 2026. Among key projects, the 400kV Greece-Bulgaria Interconnector has entered its final stretch, with the tender for the Greek side expected to close by the end of January.

PPC and Motor Oil are set to form a green hydrogen consortium combining PPC’s growing RES capabilities with Motor Oil’s distribution infrastructure and know-how. Motor Oil is already entering the hydrogen market with project Blue Med, which aims to build a hydrogen production and distribution chain around its oil refinery facilities in Corinth.

Real estate

Property prices in Athens have risen by 21% since the last quarter of 2018, and rents are up by 13.6% over the same period according to property site Spitogatos.gr. Asking prices rose by 7.6% in Q4 2021, while advertised rents increased by 5.2%.

Foreign buyers invested just under €260 million in Greek real estate in 2021. A total of 1,035 Golden Visa permits were issued by the end of the year, up from 938 in 2020, but well below the high of 3,535 recorded in 2019.

The reform of the ENFIA property tax has been pushed back by at least a month to February, as a government task force explores ways to reduce the burden on small and medium property ownership in a revenue-neutral way.

Banks

Greek banks issued €6 billion of new credit in Q4 2021, pushing credit expansion into positive territory. The systemic banks issued roughly €1.5 billion each of new loans in the last quarter. In the first nine months, Alpha had extended €3.8 billion of loans, NBG €2.8 billion, Piraeus Bank €4.6 billion, and Eurobank €5.1 billion.

Attica Highway. Copyright: Aerial-motion / Shutterstock.com

Privatisations

The concession on the Attica Highway is expected to be put out to tender by privatisation fund HRADF. The concession will only include the current contract that runs out in 2023-24 and excludes any extensions, which will be tendered separately. The tender is expected to exceed €2 billion, surpassing that of Egnatia Highway which fetched €1.5 billion.

Stock market

The ASE general index racked up 4.7% weekly gains to close at 949.39 points. Banks led the rally, with the banking index gaining 7.87% since the start of the week and 12.92% since the start of the year. An estimated €120 of inflows from foreign investors went into Greek bank stocks in the first few days of trading of 2022.

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