GIG Economic Bulletin – November 30, 2020

Tax and institutional reforms figure high in the Pissarides report, which promises to boost national recovery and transform the Greek economic model.

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An action plan overseen by Nobel Laureate Sir Christopher Pissarides proposes bold reforms, across the Greek economy, while targeting a two-fold increase in economic growth by 2030, along with single digit levels of unemployment. On the business front, Greece’s energy utility PPC was upgraded by credit ratings agency S&P from B- to B, Lamda, the developer of the Hellinikon project, signed a strategic deal with TEMES, while the ASE’s general index exceeded €50 billion for the first time since early March.

Pissarides report

A ten-year roadmap to economic recovery is contained in the Pissarides committee’s recommendations to Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. The actions recommended in the report set out to double annual growth from 1.7% to 3.5% by 2030, and raise per capita GDP to 81% of the EU average from 67% today. The report forecasts that unemployment would fall to 7% from the current 17%. Prime Minister Mitsotakis welcomed the report, saying that Greece wants to be competitive on the tax front, the quality of its human capital, and the operations of the state through transparency and the independence of institutions.

Macro

Greece’s economic sentiment dipped 1.3 points month-on-month in November to 91 points, which puts it 17.1 points below the November 2019 reading. The EU average stood at 86.6 points, according to the latest European Commission figures. Employment expectations in Greece also fell by 1.3 points to reach 105.4 points month-on-month, while consumer confidence was down 2.8 points, for a reading of -48.3.

Bank of Greece figures showed credit expansion in the private sector continuing with a 2.5% increase in October, following a 2.4% increase in September.

Banks

Alpha Bank has selected U.S. private equity fund Davidson Kempner for the Galaxy NPL portfolio securitisation and the sale of 100% of its loan management arm Cepal. The bank will now enter into talks with the fund to finalise the deal, which will see the bank’s NPL ratio drop to 13%, from 29% today.

Alpha Bank reported net profits of €43.8 million in Q3 compared to €97.5 million in Q2 2020. Piraeus Bank reported pre-tax Q3 profits of €82 million compared to profits of €125 million in Q2 this year. Over the first three quarters of 2020, Piraeus’ results show pre-tax losses of €133 million.

E-commerce

Lockdowns are ushering in radical changes in Greek consumer habits, including a major shift to online purchasing. Online supermarket orders saw a 500% increase at the start of the first lockdown in March compared to the same week in 2019, rising from 0.4% of total supermarket sales to 1.8%. The growth continued after the end of the first lockdown with a 183% increase in Q3 according to a report by Convert Group.

Aegean

A support package has been agreed for Aegean Airlines, which will see the Greek state contributing €120 million with shareholders adding a further €60 million. The deal, which aims to see the airline through the losses inflicted by the pandemic, requires EU approval.

Tourism

Income from tourism was down by -78% compared to 2019, reaching just €3.5 billion in the first nine months of 2020 according to Bank of Greece figures. Flows from the U.S. and Russia, two of Greece’s biggest tourism markets, were down over -90%. A study conducted by travel industry research company Phocuswright underlined that, based on current scenarios, tourism in Europe is expected to take four years to recover from the pandemic.

Energy

Ratings agency S&P has upgraded public utility PPC from B- to B with a “stable” outlook, a move seen as a vote of confidence in the ongoing restructuring of the state-controlled electricity supplier. PPC’s €2-billion investment programme focusing on renewables and grid upgrades is seen as key in earning the upgrade.

PPC is open to collaborations to fast-track its delignitisation strategy. Copyright: fotohunter / Shutterstock

Hellinikon

Lamda Development, the company behind the redevelopment of the Hellinikon site, has signed its first strategic deal with TEMES (Costa Navarino). The partnership will see €300 million invested in two five-star hotels and villa complexes at the Athens Riviera site, with TEMES and Lamda participating with 70% and 30% shares respectively.

Stock market

The ASE general index made weekly gains of 5.31% to close at 736.90 points on Friday. The ASE’s capitalisation exceeded €50 billion for the first time since early March, with positive news on vaccines reviving investor confidence.

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