GIG Economic Bulletin – January 4, 2021

Greece plans to kick off 2021 with a new bond issue and a renewed push on the privatisations front.

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Having launched its COVID vaccine rollout on 27 December, Greece soon expects to be able to deliver 2 million doses per month. Meanwhile, new bond issues and the repayment of IMF loans indicate efforts to improve the profile of Greek sovereign debt. HRADF has set a new privatisations revenue target for 2021, as the logistics sector is making strides having gained the interest of e-commerce giant Amazon.

GGBs

The Greek state has started the process of repaying €3.6 billion of loans to the IMF, covering obligations, in the second such move that will lead to €6.3 billion out of the total €8 billion of IMF loans being paid off. The repayments are part of a strategy to improve the profile of Greek sovereign debt by swapping expensive borrowing with the cheap rates secured during 2020.

Greece is expected to tap the markets again as early as January, with most analysts anticipating a 10-year bond issue, while longer maturity issues of 20 or 30 years are also being considered within Q1 2021. The total new issues are expected to range between €8 and €12 billion.

Privatisations

Privatisation agency HRADF will be undergoing a revamp in the new year with an enhanced mandate which will include supporting strategic national projects through a newly-formed Project Preparation Facility. HRADF’s privatisation revenue target for 2021 has been set at €1.79 billion, and will include several delayed tenders, such as the sale of a 30% stake in Athens International Airport, which were put on hold due to the pandemic.

Two privatisation projects have come up against last-minute hurdles in advanced stages of the tender process. The creditors of the Skaramangas Shipyards, which include the Greek state, Piraeus Bank, and employees, have rejected a €15.1-million offer from Pyletech on the grounds of it being too low. Meanwhile, the Council of State has accepted the appeals by two bidding consortiums for the concession on the Egnatia highway against privatisation fund HRADF’s decision not to grant an extension to the tender. The decision could delay the tender by several months until the appeals are heard.

Logistics

The logistics sector is emerging as a clear winner from the pandemic, with interest heating up in warehouse spaces and emerging logistics hubs. ETVA VIPE and Goldair are in line to construct a logistics centre in the Thriasio area in western Attica, while Amazon is also said to be looking into siting its first warehouse and distribution facilities in Greece in the same area. In the past year, 100,000 square metres of warehouse space have been delivered in western Attica, with at least the same amount planned for 2021.

Retail

Retail turnover under COVID measures will struggle to reach a third of last year’s sales in the pre-holiday season according to representatives of the sector, who estimate that sales will range around €1.5 billion compared to €3.5 billion in 2019.

Start-ups

A total of 727 companies have initiated the registration process on the recently launched “Elevate Greece” platform. Among the benefits of registration will be access to state funding through a €60-million funding programme to provide working capital.

Banks

Piraeus Bank and servicer Intrum have agreed to the sale of 30% of the mezzanine notes in the Phoenix securitisation worth €1.92 billion. The bank has already applied to the Hercules scheme for the senior note guarantees. Overall, the Phoenix securitisation is expected to reduce the bank’s NPE ratio from 47% to 44%.

THEK S.A., a joint venture between ETVA VI.PE. S.A. (80%) and Goldair Cargo S.A. (20%) is building Greece’s largest logistics centre in Thriasio on 235,000 square meters. Copyright: Rost 9 / Shutterstock

Stock Market

The ASE general index closed 2020 with losses of -11.74% to settle at 808.99 points, having registered a high of 948 points prior to the pandemic, and an annual low of 484 points. The banking sector was the hardest hit, closing the year down -41.3%, while mid-caps were marginally up 0.92% by year end.

In the final week of trading for 2020, the general index closed up 2.73%, while the banking index registered a gain of 5%.

The profits of listed companies were down 78% in the first nine months of 2020 compared to the same period last year. Large caps showed greater resilience to the pandemic, with six FTSE 25 constituents in the top-10 performers for the period. After-tax profits for the 129 companies which published financial statements for the period totalled €326 million, compared to €1.49 billion in 2019.

COVID-19

Greece’s COVID-19 vaccination programme kicked off on December 27 with the first doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine being administered to healthcare workers, care home residents and senior state officials. The programme has the capacity to deliver over 2 million doses a month once the full range of vaccines secured under the EU’s advance purchasing agreements become available.

Following a relative relaxation over the holiday period, the government announced a week of stricter measures starting January 3, including the shuttering of all non-essential retail, with the aim of opening schools on January 11.

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