GIG Economic Bulletin – January 31, 2022

Economic sentiment reached record levels in January, while major inward investment deals confirm Greece’s attractiveness as a place to do business.

Economic BulletinInsights
JP Morgan to expand its presence in Greece following a landmark deal to acquire 49% of Greek Fintech Viva Wallet. US-based cloud enterprise company Sitecore unveiled plans to the establish a new hub in Athens with a total investment of €1.2 billion, while major energy investments gain traction.

Macro

Economic sentiment reached an all-time high in January with a 4.2-point rise. The European Commission’s index now stands at 114.2, compared to 90.7 points a year ago. Consumer confidence recovered marginally by one point to -42.2 points, after dropping by 2.4 points to -43.2 in December. 

Last year’s final growth figure could approach 9%, according to Bank of Greece (BoG) governor Yiannis Stournaras, while the primary deficit is expected to shrink from 6.5-7% of GDP in 2021 to 1-1.5% in 2022. The central banker said growth of 4.5-5% in 2022 is feasible and would help to soften the effects of necessary fiscal contraction.

The Centre of Planning and Economic research (KEPE) sees annual growth of 8.6% GDP for 2021, followed by expansion of 5.2% of GDP in H1 2022, while the pandemic continues to be the main source of uncertainty for forecasters.

JP Morgan sees growth of 5.2% GDP in 2022, with a primary deficit of 1.4% of GDP and public debt at 197% of GDP.

The latest review meetings between government officials and the mission chiefs of the institutions aim to map Greece’s path towards exiting the enhanced surveillance framework by August 2022. The institutions have continued to monitor progress on state arrears, EFKA, the new insolvency regime, foreclosures, the banking sector, the judiciary, and the health system.

Households’ disposable income increased by 6.2% Y-o-Y in Q3 2021 to reach €33.52 billion. Over the nine-month period to September, disposable income was €5.2 billion higher than 2020, and €3.5 billion above 2019 levels.

Private sector deposits grew by €4.3 billion in December, compared to €1.8 billion in November according to the BoG. Business deposits grew by €1.6 billion, while households and non-profits added €2.7 billion to the stock.

Energy

The European Commission has earmarked funds of €657 million for the construction of a 900-km undersea electricity cable connecting Crete and Cyprus, from the EU’s Connecting Europe Facility. The amount equates to 60% of the EU green infrastructure budget for this period, while the project aims to eventually also link Israel with the European power grid.

The final investment decision for the Alexandroupolis FSRU was announced by developer Gastrade. The LNG terminal and storage facility, which will connect to the mainline grid via a 28 km pipeline, is expected to become operational by the end of 2023.

Installed wind power capacity increased by just under 4.5 GW, or 8.2%, in 2021, according to the Hellenic Wind Energy Association. TERNA (703 MW), ELLAKTOR (482 MW), ENEL Green Power (368 MW) and Iberdrola Rokas Renewables (271 MW) were the leading players in the market.

Investments

JP Morgan will be growing its footprint in Athens after agreeing to acquire 49% of digital payments processor Viva Wallet in a deal valued at close to €2 billion. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis welcomed the move in a meeting with the bank’s CEO Jamie Dimon, describing it as “a vote of confidence in the country and the economy,” which “reaffirms the new start-up culture that has appeared in Greece.”

In 2021, Greek startups raised over €500,000, more than tripling 2020’s disclosed investments. Copyright: dotshock / Shutterstock.com

The final signature on the Hellinikon casino concession between the Finance Ministry and the consortium Inspire Athens is expected next month, before going to Parliament for approval. The consortium is now fully owned by GEK Terna. It is believed that the construction company has come to an agreement with Hard Rock to enter the project with a 51% stake.

Greece was one of the biggest recipients of EBRD funding in 2021, receiving €838 million in investments, 20% up on the prior year. The bank expects investments to reach €1 billion in 2022.

HRADF’s Project Preparation Facility has taken on 19 projects worth €2.5 billion, with the airport in Heraklion in Crete expected to bring the number to 20. Most of the projects will be financed by the RRF as part of the Greece 2.0 plan, while the scope and range of projects is wide and includes the health sectors and the judiciary.

Digital

San Francisco-based cloud enterprise company Sitecore has announced the establishment of a new hub in Athens, with the hiring of 100 local staff in 2022 and a total investment of €1.2 billion over the next few years.

Real estate

Construction activity was up in October according to ELSTAT, recording an 18.4% Y-o-Y increase in the number of permits, a 36.1% increase in area, and a 45.2% in volume.

Stock market

The ASE general index closed the week at 924.42 points, down -1.91% on a weekly basis. The banking sector once again bucked the trend with weekly gains of 0.64%.

Hellenic Exchanges SA has appointed Giannos Kontopoulos as its new CEO, replacing Socrates Lazarides. Kontopoulos is a Partner, Chief Macro Strategist at CQS Fund in London and served as CEO of Eurobank Asset Management.

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