Investing in Greece – A Guide for International Funds Investors

In early 2020, Greece was still recovering from a decade of economic crisis; Forums and conferences were held, articles have been written about how many accomplishments have been achieved, how many old-fashioned mentalities have been left behind, how Greece managed to stand still and raise up again in the world community, analysts and economists had been optimistic about a new era that could be foreseen.

And then, the world was shocked as the Pandemic of Covid-19 had broken out. The whole planet was put on hold and the clock stopped ticking for the majority of the global community. What effects could the pandemic provoke to a country such as Greece, that had just started to recover?

                In the following research conducted under the auspices of Cardiff Metropolitan University, the investing environment in Greece for the period 2016 to 2019 is presented. Greece had attracted significant investing interest from international funds regarding energy, new technologies, tourism and real estate. These institutions are trying to set their places in the country and create business opportunities and profit of course for themselves. However, the country had and still has a lot of pathogenesis to confront.

Fundamental domains of the administrative sectors and not only, were creating huge delays on the execution of each necessary action. The bureaucracy, the lack of expertise of public servants, the instable tax system, the banking demands for compliance are some of the burdens that a foreign investor shall face upon the beginning of each project in the country. Investors, stakeholders and key players have been often disappointed by the situation and what they see in the country apart from the sun, the sea and the hospitality. So, the critical question that is set in the research is whether an investor is able to gain profit eventually and even more whether are actions to be made by the investor or the state for the improvement of the current situation.

Methods and regimes are presented in the research, so as to create a guide for the investor to understand and move forward each investing project in the country. The state also needs to improve its services, either by the digitalization of the public sector or by the proper training of the public servants. In other words, politics and administration should be separated, so that the public sector shall be embodied by highly expertise people or well-trained public servants. Moreover, the stabilization of the legal and tax system is also a security factor for the investor, having planned a whole project upon certain forms and rules and not being able to adjust it upon any governmental change. Tax incentives shall also be given to the foreign funds that aim to invest their money in the local economy. In the end, the crucial question that is answered positively is whether Greece is a safe place to invest.

                During the pandemic crisis of Covid-19, one would expect that the recovery and improvement of the Greek services, would cease automatically. However, it was an overwhelming surprise that the pandemic crisis fastened and actually gave birth to many projects and procedures in the public sector. One the most ambitious projects that seems to move forward is the digitalization of the Greek Administration. Over the last year, more than 6 billion euros have been committed to the Digital Revolution of the public sector. The pandemic set even more narrow borders and within few months, a large number of public services have been finally digitalized. Governmental cyber locations have created a digital communication with the state, from tax certificated to judicial services, so that a great number of administrative procedures can easily take place within few minutes via our computers. The recent announcement of Microsoft investment in Greece, proved that the country can be made a digital liaison and a consistent base for data centers and multiple innovative technologies. To that direction, tax incentives were provided to “digital nomads”, i.e. foreign people working in high technologies and can provide their services remotely who move to Greece for a different way of living. In fact, it is recently regulated that for the first seven years of their residency in Greece, taxation will be imposed upon the 50% of their income (l. 4758/2020). The tax break shall facilitate not only free lancers that may work in any spot of the planet, but also regular stuff of a foreign company that is to invest in Greece. The first relevant platform has been launched from the regional district of Crete (https://www.workfromcrete.gr/), providing basic information about the opportunities given.

                Moreover, progress has been made on the field of alternative source of funding. Start-up companies and entrepreneurs can be distanced from traditional banking sector, that could indeed provoke significant delays, and choose alternative ways of funding. Such would be the Equifund, an initiative created by the Hellenic Republic in cooperation with the European Investment Fund (EIF). The new fund-of-funds programme in Greece, EquiFund, understands that SMEs need a private equity and venture capital ecosystem in order to thrive. So the venture capital market is strengthened in Greece, which can in turn provide entrepreneurs with the crucial financing they need to grow their businesses and attract private sector investment. According to official data, more than 150 investors participate in Equifund and more than 112 million euros have been invested. In 2020, the Greek start-up companies have been funded with more than 6 million euro from Equifund. Remarkable acquisitions of Greek start-up companies from foreign entrepreneurs have also occurred, among which the acquisition of Think Silicon and Softomotive from American giants.

                The investing environment in Greece, shows, indeed, that the Greek state follows the league and stands up in the business velocity. More steps need to be taken though, in order to gain the lost ground and years among the world community, as presented in the conducted research entitled: “A GUIDE FOR INTERNATIONAL FUNDS REGARDING INVESTMENTS IN GREECE. ANALYZING INVESTMENTS IN GREECE FOR THE LAST THREE YEARS”. Despite the crisis, the previous years, major projects have been realized in several domains. Main business activity evolves lately tourism, energy, real estate, health and technology. Alas, recent economic analysis and statistics indicate that the reinforcement of business activity could have been far more emphatic if only certain malfunctions would be avoided. Instable taxation, bank compliance, capital controls, bureaucracy and red tape are some of the problems that an investor shall face upon the beginning of a business establishment.

In this research, the foreign business activity in the country for the last three years is presented. Special reference is made to energy, tourism, infrastructure and real estate. Furthermore, the readers shall have a taste of the problems that an entrepreneur might face as soon its business interest would turn to Greece. Finally, methods and regimes were proposed for the facilitation of a business intention to invest in Greece thus attempting to contribute to Greek economy sustainability. This dissertation aims to create an up-to-date manual for the global business community that examines its investing future in Greece. The country presents a range of characteristics, such as geopolitical status, climate and environmental advantages, huge culture and history that tend to attract business interest. However, investors might turn away due to the aforesaid malfunctions of Greek state. Consequently, various proposals were presented as well as ideas to keep the business activity high, thus adapting business strategies to facilitate their work and furthermore the profit to be made in Greece.

Consequently, this effort aims to point out that potential investors in Greece shall be provided with efficient ideas, methods and strategies that shall facilitate or contribute to their business activity. The following questions were also answered. Will the Greek pathogenesis be defeated by an innovative and hardworking model of business strategy? Will a well-organized enterprise be able to achieve its business goal of investing in Greece without huge loss profit due to state delay? Will the Greek economy make the business environment more “hospitable” for international investors thus assisting to its economic recovery?

Chapter 1: Introduction

1.1 Purpose of Research

This research aims to create an up-to- date manual for the global business community that examines its investing future in Greece. The country presents a range of characteristics, such as geopolitical status, climate and environmental advantages, huge culture and history that tend to attract business interest. However, Investors might turn away due to the aforesaid malfunctions of Greek state. I shall approach various proposals and ideas to keep the business activity high, thus adapting business strategies to facilitate their work and furthermore the profit to be made in Greece. Methods and regimes shall be proposed for the facilitation of a business intention to invest in Greece thus attempting to contribute to Greek economy sustainability.

1.2          Formulation of Research Questions

Having presented the main ratio of the topic, the research focuses on two basic questions that are attempted to be answered.

1.2.1      Research Question 1

Will the Greek pathogenesis be defeated by an innovative and hardworking model of business strategy? Will a well-organized enterprise be able to achieve its business goal of investing in Greece without huge loss profit due to state delay? The research shows that businesses in Greece not only are capable to overtake the initial difficulties they might face, but also to make huge profit as long as they have good guidance and motivation by expertise solicitors.

1.2.2      Research Question 2

Will the Greek economy make the business environment more “hospitable” for international investors, thus assisting to its economic recovery? As final conclusion, the answer to this question is estimated to be positive. Operational difficulties often occur in business. However, nothing can be enough to prevent healthy entrepreneurship and prosperity for the community. It is then believed, that despite current pathogenesis, there is fertile ground for business success in the country.

1.3          Significance of this Study

The upper purpose of the dissertation is to emphasize upon the investing and business framework of Greece as it has been schemed and transformed after the financial crisis of 2008. What has been a disaster for thousands of Greeks, it has become an opportunity for others. The exaggerations, over-consuming and bureaucratic mentality of the public servants has been into the eye of the storm, thus making it to be transformed under the pressure and the criticism of the business community. It is therefore of the utmost interest to attribute merits but also to stick on the hard work that has already been done and needs to be done for the modernization and reorganization of the public services in order for healthy entrepreneurship to be achieved.

1.4          Structure of Dissertation

The structure of this dissertation is divided into 6 main chapters and numerous subchapters. Concerning the main chapters, they are developed in the following sequence: Introduction, Literature Review, Research Methodology, Analysis and Findings, Discussion and finally Conclusions and Recommendations. Introduction is analyzed in this chapter. Thus, no further analysis is required.

Concerning the second chapter, Literature Review, a description on the topic and subject of the dissertation is presented. Numerous references, researches and reports are investigated, showing the main investments that have been introduced to Greece the recent years. Furthermore, semi-structured interview had been undertaken.  The findings suggested that Greece indeed has been a pole of interest for many and different type of investors. However, actions need to be taken in order for them to be facilitated under the initiation of their projects and their contribution to Greek economy.

Regarding the third chapter, all the methodologies which were used for the research analysis in this dissertation are presented. The Research Philosophy that has been followed is analyzed here. Furthermore, the design of the research is given, providing the type of this study which is both primary and secondary research. The way that the data were collected is also presented in this chapter. The way these data were processed is analyzed here also. The Research Limitations of this study along with the Ethical Considerations are described as well.

The fourth chapter, Analysis and Findings, is one of the two core chapters of this dissertation. This is because all the findings are presented here. To begin with, an analysis of the Research Questions is initiating the reader to what is going to be analyzed. A presentation of the findings is conducted afterwards. Accordingly, an analysis of findings connected with the main concepts is conducted. Regarding the fifth chapter, Discussion, is the second core chapter of the study. In general, the contribution of the findings is presented here. Firstly, a connection of the Literature Review with the Research Findings is conducted. Furthermore, how the argument was built and assessed is also presented. The contribution of findings is given here along with the final answers to Research Questions. Which is the findings significance is presented as well. Finally, some recommendations for future research are given. The final chapter is about the Conclusions and Recommendations. An introduction is given to this chapter also. Which are the aim and objectives of the dissertation are reminded to the readers again here. A presentation of the most important findings connected with the two Research Questions is also presented. Moreover, a brief discussion of the findings’ significance is conducted. The relation of the dissertation with the study area is showed. Recommendations concerning the Research Subject and Topic Area are given also.

Chapter 2: Literature Review

2.1. Introduction

To begin with, in this part I shall present the main investment domains that have been risen in Greece the last three years. Data have been collected by the local and global press as well as from the official supervising authorities of the projects. The chapter is divided into two subchapters, categorized regarding the type of investment, i.e. the energy and the tourism. 

2.2. Analysis about energy investments

Greece is currently emerging as a key player in the transportation of energy from East to West through pipeline projects, electricity grid interconnectivity and alternative means of ensuring security of supply through offshore reserves (e.g. LNG terminals)

Generation Potential: Due to its climate conditions (Greece enjoys more than 250 days of sunshine—or 3,000 hours of sun—a year, and has a strong wind capacity), the country possesses significant untapped generation potential, particularly in renewables which can enhance the EU energy mix.

Government Support and Legislation: the Ministries of Environment & Energy, and Economy & Development, have spearheaded several major investment projects over the past years, including the TAP-IGB-EastMed natural gas pipelines, the new liquefied natural gas terminal in Revithoussa, and major RES investments. This, in combination with Greece’s upgraded energy investment regulatory framework, provides exceptional opportunities for investment in all energy sectors. https://www.enterprisegreece.gov.gr/en/invest-in-greece/sectors-for-growth/energy

The new generation of energy projects in Greece aims to the reorganization of the energy infrastructure in the country. The occurring investments are close to nine billion euro with average budget up to five hundred ninety-nine million euro. Regarding the nature of the projects, it is estimated that 67% is about energy interconnections and networks (TAP, IGB, YFA), while the rest 33% is about new electricity facilities, wind parks etc. (Nikos Karagiannis, The big projects of the country, written in 27th June 2017, available at  https://www.ypodomes.com/index.php/all-news/item/41290-ta-megala-energeiaka-project-tis-xoras

Some of the main projects that have been initiated and processed the last three years, are the following:

a)            The IGB project: The Gas Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria is a pipeline of 182 kilometers length that aims to connect the existing networks of Greece and Bulgary, with daily transferring capacity of 13,6 million km and annually 3-5 billion km. The project will bring huge benefits in the area and its energy status due to its strategic position. The new pipeline will also be crucial for the transferring needs of the TAP pipeline (natural gas pipeline), thus assuring its distribution to the Southern countries. (Press Release of the Ministry of Environment and Energy, available at http://www.ypeka.gr/Default.aspx?tabid=785&sni[524]=6315&language=el-GR ). The IGB project is being implemented by the joint venture company ICGB AD, registered in Bulgaria in 2011, with shareholders BEH EAD (50%) and IGI Poseidon (50%). The co-shareholder IGI Poseidon is a company, registered in Greece, with shareholders being the Greek public gas corporation DEPA SA (50%) and the Italian energy group Edison SpA (50%). In accordance with its Articles of Association, ICGB AD will be the owner of the IGB gas pipeline and will finance its realization, will allocate its capacity and will receive the revenue from the transportation of natural gas. https://www.icgb.eu/about/igb_project

b)            The TAP project: The Trans-Atlantic Pipeline aims to the distribution of natural gas, with total length of 878 km and volume 20 billion c.m. per year. It starts from Azerbaijan, distributing of natural gas to Europe through Greek, Albanian and Italian territory. (https://www.ypodomes.com/index.php/all-news/item/41290-ta-megala-energeiaka-project-tis-xoras   

By now, almost 83 % of its construction has been completed (Trans Adriatic Pipeline, written in 16th May 2019, available at https://www.tap-ag.com/news-and-events/2019/05/16/over-87-of-trans-adriatic-pipeline-complete-three-years-after-construction-start  )

The project has been processed under the cooperation of state authorities of each country, having signed memoranda of cooperation and understanding.

c)            Renewable Sources of Energy: The country has seen an impressive increase in the share of renewables in electricity generation, even over-achieving the targets set for solar photovoltaics. Enhanced exploitation of its renewable energy potential could result in a more balanced energy mix and contribute to increasing energy security.

Greece should continue pursuing the implementation of ambitious energy efficiency policies, drawing on the evaluation of outcomes from past and current measures and on the lessons learned by other countries. This review also provides recommendations for further policy improvements that are intended to help guide the country towards a more secure and sustainable energy future. (International Energy Agency, https://www.iea.org/countries/Greece/  )

In the table below, it is indicated the consumption of energy coming from renewable sources related to the rest countries of European Union from 2004 to 2016.

Table: Share of energy from renewable sources

(in % of gross final energy consumption)

                2004       2012       2013       2014       2015       2016

EU            8.5        14.4        15.2        16.1        16.7        17

Greece      6.9         13.5       15.0        15.3        15.4        15.2

Source: Eurostat News Release 01.25.2018

The EU Member States have agreed on a new EU renewable energy target of at least 27% by 2030.  Greece nearly doubled its share from renewable energy sources, from 6.9% of gross final energy consumption in 2004, to 15.2% in 2016.  Eurostat expects Greece to reach the 18% goal set for 2020 (Eurostat, 2018).

According to the EC Commissioner in charge of competition policy Margrethe Vestager, Greece will bring down costs for renewable energy with competitive auctions to support renewable electricity generation, adding that the auction will help Greece’s efforts to reach its 2020 climate goals of generating 18% of its energy from renewables. (BMI, News).  The government’s target is to exceed the EU renewable energy goal of 2030 of 27%.  These targets are legally binding, due to EU regulations and Kyoto Protocol agreement. (Greece Renewable Agency, report last published in 20th June 2019 for the export.com, available at https://www.export.gov/article?id=Greece-Renewable-Energy  ).

One of the most successful examples for the energy era that Greece has entered is the EU program “Horizon 2020”, which approves funding for the creation of energy autonomy for several islands across Europe. Among them, the Greek island TILOS has been distinguished in the first position, earning funding of eleven million euro. The “green island” Tilos has been turned into a completely autonomous island, by using only renewable sources of energy, mostly wind and solar power (“Tilos project”, written in 16th August 2018, available at http://ecopress.gr/?p=12296  ).

Apart from the transnational projects that have already been initiated, the energy field in Greece has also been attractive to exterior investors who chose the Greek companies to expand their activities. More precisely, some recent collaborations shall be referred.

–              US Third Point Gas has entered into the share capital of Energean Oil & Gas (a Greek Oil & Gas producer and explorer) through an equity capital injection of $60 million.

–              Qatar Petroleum International (QPI) and the Greek company GEK Terna have signed an agreement to acquire an interest in the Heron II power plant, signalling QPI’s first investment in Greece. Heron II is currently Greece’s most efficient power plant.

–              Chinese Shenhua Group has entered into a co-operation agreement with Copelouzos Group to develop RES projects and upgrade lignite units in a € 3 billion investment plan.

–              China State Grid has acquired a 24% stake of the Independent Power Transmission Operator (ADMIE), for € 320 million,Canadian investment fund Fairfax Holdings has become the third largest shareholder of Greek industrial energy group Mytilineos , acquiring a 5% stake worth about € 30 million ($41 million).

–              US York Capital Management has announced €100 million investments in Greece’s GEK Terna, acquiring a 10% stake of in the company.

https://www.enterprisegreece.gov.gr/en/invest-in-greece/sectors-for-growth/energy

In other words, Greece can use the economic recovery as an opportunity to get ahead with longer-term emissions reduction outcomes by pursuing initiatives that support sustainable increases in efficiency and by increasing the share of natural gas and renewable energy in the energy mix. A key part of this process will be to develop a national energy and climate plan for 2030 and beyond, as well as to incorporate climate objectives into integrated energy planning.

2.3. Analysis about hospitality and tourism

Greece is famous not only for its ideal climate and its environmental benefits, but also for its hospitality. People from all over the world look for opportunities in order to find their place in the country. It is not only the touristic shelters and hotels that have thrived, but also residencies by foreign citizens are multiplied.

The residential and commercial real- estate market, as it currently formed in Greece, is a highly profitable market, that sets the ground for many property investments. The collapse of the prices in the urban centers, due to the severe financial crisis of the last decade, along with the great growth of tourism in Athens and Thessaloniki, have made these two cities, a place of opportunities. (“Israelis investing in real estate in Greece”, written in 20th September 2018, available at https://nexuslaw.gr/en/israelis-investing-in-real-estate-in-greece/ .) 

According to a PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) report published recently, Athens climbed to the 14th place in Europe from the 29th spot it held in 2017 regarding property investment prospects. The report was conducted by the London-based company for the well-known “Urban Land Institute.” It notes that Greece’s emergence from the financial crisis, the country’s access to money markets, and its growth rates are crucial factors which will help the property market boom (“Athens Real Estate Investment Climate Heats up, written in 2nd April 2019 by Nick Kampouris, available at https://greece.greekreporter.com/2019/04/02/athens-real-estate-investment-climate-heats-up/ ). In another research recently conducted by CBRE, a company that provides immovable assets management services, Greece is considered to be among the seven (7) most popular destinations for touristic investments for 2019, thus turning into a great hub of investments in the field of hospitality (“Greece, Among the top10 for touristic investments”, Economistas article written in 07th March 2019, available at https://www.economistas.gr/epiheiriseis/9436_sto-top-10-i-ellada-gia-toyristikes-ependyseis ).

Major tourist investments have either initiated or are still processed, with leading international funds to cooperate not only with local firms but also with the Greek state for the realization of their projects. Some of the most famous are presented shortly hereinafter.

–              TUI Group invests in Greece for the ROBINSON and Family Life Hotel brand

–              US Hines acquires ex Ledra Hotel in Athens

–              German Tour Operator Alltours acquires two Hotels in Greece

–              US Oaktree Capital through a joint venture with Greek SANI SA expands in the Greek tourism market

–              Chinese Fosun and Emirati Eagle Hills announced agreements with Lamda Development to co-fund the €7bn Hellinikon Project in Athens

–              Kerzner International Holdings Limited and Dolphin Capital Group are on track to build “One & Only Kea Island” in Greece. A total 150 mil. Investment

–              Accor Hotels keeps expanding in Greece

–              Marriott keeps expanding in Greece

–              Wyndham Hotel Group, opens new Hotels in Athens and key resort destinations

–              British tour operator Thomas Cook Hotel Investments (TCHI), follows an expansion strategy for Greece, through significant investments in hotels

–              The first Aman Resort (Amanzoe) and the first Nikki Beach Hotel opened their doors in Argolida, while further luxury villas and hotel development is in progress in Peloponnese (Messinia, Argolida, Ilia, Laconia)

–              Russian Mirum is implementing “Elounda Hills”, a luxury leisure-residential integrated resort development in Crete

–              Four Seasons has opened its first hotel in Athens

–              Somewhere Hotels the Saudi group entered the Greek hotel market

–              Israel-based Fattal Hotel company, has entered Greece, with a significant investment in central Athens

–              Russian Tycoon Dmitry Rybolovlev starts a €120M Project, in a luxury accommodation complex on the private Island of Skorpios, in the Ionian Sea

–              Cronwell is investing in the new Ierissos Resort, a 300-room luxury-resort next to Mount Athos, that will initially consist of 2 hotels and 10 villas

–              TEMES SA, owner of the luxury tourism resort

–              Costa Navarino in Messinia, set to invest €250 mil. in the creation of a second tourism accommodation enterprise at Navarino Bay, by expanding to nearby Pylos with the construction of a five-star hotel, furnished villas with a 900-bed capacity and an 18-hole golf course among others.

(Data exceeded by Enterprise Greece tourist guide report for 2019, page 4, available at https://www.enterprisegreece.gov.gr/assets/content/files/c10/a1497/f52/tourism%20teaser.PDF )

Moreover, the “golden visa” residence program has been initiated, which gives the opportunity to non-EU citizens for assets purchases in Greece. The program assures that anyone who can buy an immovable asset of great value in Greece, has the right to acquire a residential permit (within certain limits and circumstances). As so, people with economical potentials have invested in the program, having purchased property in Greece. Article 16 (Law 4251/2014) is considered to be of particular importance in promoting the public interest, whereby introducing innovative arrangements. It refers to investments classified, either as “Strategic” (characterized as such by a decision of the Interministerial Committee for Strategic Investments) Investments or investments with “a positive impact on national economy and development”. The residence permit in respect of the latter is granted for five (5 years) with a possibility of renewal for an equal period each time, while in respect of the former, it is granted for ten (10) years with a possibility of renewal for an equal period provided that the relevant requirements continue to be met. Residence permits can be granted not only to the investor  but also to up to 10 additional persons (dependently on the size of the investment) related to the implementation of the investment plan, (“The Greek Golden Visa Program: Residence Permit by Investment (Law 4251/2014)”, written by Vera Alexandropoulou, 22-04-2019, http://www.greeklawdigest.gr/topics/citizens-the-state/item/285-the-greek-golden-visa-program-residence-permit-by-investment-law-4251-2014  ).

2.4. The deficiencies to be confronted

2.4.1. Introduction

Having presented some of the biggest investments occurring in Greece for the last years, it is now time to wonder whether the above entrepreneurs have been easily established or even initiated their businesses in the country. The answer is without doubt negative as thousands of lost hours and money have been wasted, often without success, in order for them to achieve their goals. Some of the issues they had to deal with, are presented hereinafter. The deficiencies and difficulties that a foreign company might face upon its entrance in Greek business market, have been categorized into three large subchapters, as following presented. 

2.4.2. The banking compliance

In April 2018, Price Waterhouse Couper issued a report named “From recession to recovery” aimed to point out the deficiencies of the Greek economy that prevail large investing schemes from establishment in the country (https://www.pwc.com/gr/en/publications/greek-thought-leadership/policies-towards-investment-acceleration.html ). One of the main problems that an investor in Greece shall face is the banking system. As the investment gap approaches almost 110 billion euros, one shall come to the question regarding the effective funding of an upcoming investing project by the Greek banks. It is, however, mainly assumed, that is mostly unlikely for the Greek banks to provide adequate funding capitals for potential investors.

                For the last ten years, the Greek banks have passed through a massive crash test to survive among the numerous cases of lack of capitals. “The Greek banks are of course suffering from the severe financial situation of the country which still persists after almost 10 years of financial crisis. Although the financial crisis in Greece was mainly a crisis of the Greek State, the banks where indirectly affected as they lost access to the market and had to find refuge to the European Central Bank and the Bank of Greece for liquidity in a number of occasions. In fact, the Greek banking sector was required to successfully undergo a number of recapitalization exercises, with the third and most recent taking place at the end of 2015. Following this last recapitalization, the share capital percentage owned by the Greek State through the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund has been significantly reduced and the majority of the bank shares are now owned by the private sector”. http://www.greeklawdigest.gr/topics/finance-investment/item/40-banking-system

                PwC report has pointed some of the main causes for the case. To start with, it is estimated that the deposits in Greece have always been lower than the loans provided, having as result the inability of full funding of investments after the elimination of external lending and the restriction away from the markets. In fact, it is estimated that by the end of 2017, the gap between deposits and loans of the private sector approaches the amount of 57.2 billion euros. (page 24, “From recession to recovery”, PwC report 2018)

                Moreover, the available funding of the banks has exclusively come from internal sources, such as the Bank of Greece or the European Central Bank “rescue” packages. The Greek banks have been away from the markets for several years, thus having been led to negative savings and reduction of local investments (page 24, “From recession to recovery”, PwC report 2018)

                Furthermore, non-performing loans have created even a larger gap in banking capitals. Within the acceleration of Greek recession, the “bad” loans have reached 51% by the end of 2016. In other words, more than 107 billion euros have been characterized as debt for the Greek banks. The bad reports for Greek banks kept coming, making them practically unsustainable without external funding or a “rescue” package. As a result, international funds have recently merged a great percentage of non-performing loans of the four big systemic banks in order for them to achieve their economic reconstruction. The European Central Bank’s guidelines order for NPEs to be reduced up to 38% by the end of the year (page 24, “From recession to recovery”, PwC report 2018)

According to a recent article of Louise Bowman in “euromoney.com”, it is reported that “NPLs at Greek banks have fallen 20% since their peak in 2016, but still stand at €88.6 billion, or 48% of total loans outstanding. Of the four largest banks, Piraeus Bank had 54.7% NPL exposure in June 2018, Alpha Bank 51.9%, National Bank of Greece 42% and Eurobank 40.7%. Across the EU, the average NPL ratio is now 4%. And so, while €4.4 billion bad loans held at Greek banks were written-off in 2018 and another €5.2 billion of Greek NPLs were sold, the country has a lot of catching up to do. 

The country is now under pressure to cut the volume of NPLs by 27% to €65 billion by the end of this year. That is an extraordinary challenge. It will require doubling the pace of reduction so far.”  (Louise Bowman, Februrary 18th, 2019, “Time is running out for the Greek NPE’s”, full article available at   https://www.euromoney.com/article/b1d5y30tw5d8yz/time-is-running-out-for-greek-npls )

                Another big issue for the banking sector is the new compliance regulations and legal framework. Regarding the strengthening of anti-money laundering policy and tax transparency throughout the world, the Greek Authorities have adapted a variety of measures for the approval and finally the execution of every transaction exceeding a certain amount of money. The Parliament has voted for the law no. 4557/2018, which amends all previous legislations and introduces new regulations regarding anti-money laundering control. The Independent Authority of Public Revenue (IAPR) is considered as the proper for the establishment, the monitoring, the supervision and the imposition of penalties regarding AML regulations. Auditors, financial and banking authorities, property agents and purchasers of large value assets are obliged by IAPR to comply with the regulations issued and provide for any information requested regarding the transactions that they are involved in. As “Suspicious” transactions, are considered those that exceed the amount of 15,000 euros processed through the monitoring procedure of IAPR. In other words, the financial or banking institutions needs to apply customers due diligence requirement and to provide justification for the exact cause of the transactions. Banks, nowadays, can deny to their clients the realization of their request if the data given are deemed to be insufficient or vulnerable for further suspicions (https://www.aade.gr/menoy/xeplyma-chrematos ).

                However, the above measures, despite their ratio, have created enormous delay in banking transactions, which can often repulse any creditor or investor to go on. Paul Douglas, the Managing Director of “Accuro” financial advisory company explains: “The divergence in risk appetite and due diligence processes across the banking sector seems to stand in contrast with the global alignment and harmonisation of regulatory requirements applicable to the international financial services sector, including the banking sector: the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in its capacity as an inter-governmental body has established longstanding international standards which are implemented in each co-operative jurisdiction via a framework of local statutory and regulatory measures for the combating of money laundering, terrorist financing and other threats to the integrity of the global financial system.

Any person who has recently opened a bank account will confirm that the process is becoming more onerous and challenging. This experience is not unique to any particular jurisdiction and from discussions with competitors and peers across the jurisdictions it is clear that the increasing challenges and hurdles involved in establishing new banking accounts and relationships are now common place and widespread.

The consequence is that a disproportionate amount of time and effort is being spent on the account opening process. It can take anywhere between two weeks to several months to progress to account opening stage.

This means that fiduciaries and intermediaries are incurring escalating time and expense in securing the additional information that is increasingly required by banks for opening accounts. From a commercial and customer relationship perspective such costs cannot always be recouped, whether in full or in part, particularly where fixed fees have been pre-agreed for the customer take-on process, inclusive of any costs in connection with establishment of bank accounts

Over and above the fiduciary costs of opening an account the indirect consequence of this is the delay in investing assets. With market and currency volatility there is often a tangible opportunity cost for being out of the markets.”

(Paul Douglas, “Compliance and Regulation, Banks are gone mad?”, Published by CONNECT, 18 September 2017, available at https://www.accurofiduciary.com/insight/compliance-and-regulation-banking-gone-mad )

 

2.4.3.     The instable taxing system

In this part of the survey, it is presented the tax system of Greece, which some would say that drives away not only foreign investors but also local companies. According to a related article of Prokopis Hatzinikolaou in Kathimerini news, it is stated: “While most countries in the developed and developing world are reducing tax rates to attract investments, in Greece the corporate tax is the fifth highest among the member-states of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), according to Ernst & Young. Its survey titled “The Outlook for Global Tax Policy in 2018,” covering the estimates and forecasts in 41 countries around the world, shows that taxation in Greece remains heavy and noncompetitive due to the high rates, and fails to secure higher revenues for the Greek state than other countries do with lower tax rates” (Prokopis Hatzinikolaou, Kathimerini news, 26th June 2018, “Corporate tax rates drive investors away”, available at http://www.ekathimerini.com/230095/article/ekathimerini/business/corporate-tax-rates-drive-investors-away ).

                Not only foreign investors often reject Greece due to its hard and unfavorable taxing system, but also local investors and entrepreneurs transfer their offices in off-shore bases in order for their taxes to be reduced. The taxing system has always been complicated in Greece, as in many countries. Its vulnerability is partly attributed to its policy makers. Mr. Theodore Fortsakis, former Rector of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens and Professor at School of Law in Athens, considers the complexity of tax law is due to the lack of codification. He states “Despite efforts to codify it per taxation object, a large part of its regulations remains fragmented. Moreover, the fiscal crisis facing the country in recent years and the concomitant need to secure public revenue, as well as the obligations undertaken as part of the memoranda signed, have recently led to significant changes throughout the regulatory framework of taxation (….). Despite recent efforts to codify it, tax law in Greece in its entirety still remains largely fragmented. Moreover, precisely because of the pressure on this law to secure direct public revenue, it is frequently changed abruptly and extraordinarily in relation to what we know in general of public law, resulting in its rules not always being in compliance with constitutional or EU standards concerning tax.” (Theodore Fortsakis, Tax Introduction, article, written in 5th March 2019 for the “Greek Law Digest, the Official Guide to Greek Law”, available at http://greeklawdigest.gr/topics/tax/item/283-tax-introduction ).

                Moreover, except from corporate or revenue taxes, there are more to pay if the investment is on real estate. PwH presents in the following scheme, the basic tax obligations that shall occur for someone who has, invests or wish to acquire any kind of immovable assets in Greece (PwC, “Greek real estate taxation, a brief summary”, page 2,  available at https://www.pwc.com/gr/en/publications/Greek%20real%20estate%20taxation.summary.May2018.pdf ).

Tax Description   Rate    Tax Base  Comments
Corporate Income Tax rate 24 + % Normal taxable profits of company, including gains from sale and rental income To be noted that the said may be reduced to 26% as from FY19 subject to the Greek State meeting several conditions (Law 4472/2017).
Dividend WHT          15% Dividends distributed by Greek Companies  
Real Estate Transfer Tax 3.09% Οn the higher between market and objective value of real estate property Normally, the transfer cost is increased by various incidental transfer costs (such as land registry,  Notarial fees. – however, such costs do not apply when shares in a real estate rich company are transferred
VAT 24% Transfer value for “new buildings” (subject to certain caveats)  This is a tax that applies to new buildings; where VAT applies there is no Real Estate Transfer Tax.
Uniform Real Estate       Property Tax (ENFIA ) 0,0037-11,25 €/sq. (principal tax) By multiplying the square meters of the land by the principal tax and other coefficients affecting the value of the property Imposed on an annual basis Moreover, a supplementary tax is calculated for legal entities holding real estate property in Greece at a standard rate of 5.5‰ on the total tax value of the subject property rights. For companies, which self- use the property for the exercise of their commercial activity the supplementary tax is reduced to 1‰. For individuals the supplementary tax is imposed at a progressive tax rate ranging from 0,1% to 1,15% and provides for a tax-free amount of 200.000 € of the total value of property rights subject to EN.F.I.A., excluding the value of plots outside urban planning (agricultural plots) for year 2018.
TAP (municipal duty) 0,025% – 0,035% Objective (i.e. minimum tax value) of real estate property Municipal duty charge through electricity bills
Special 15% tax  15% Objective (i.e. minimum tax value) of real estate property       Normally is imposed on on cases of inadequate  
Disclosure of ultimate individual owners of the real estate property

 

The above short description of the tax system of Greece proves that there is indeed a lot to take on and to pay for when one would decide on starting business in Greece.

2.4.4.     Bureaucracy

One of the main problems of Greek financial crisis and economy in general is the bureaucracy of the Greek state which has become fundamental element of Greek mentality. Public services and authorities not only do not facilitate citizens’ during their transactions with the state but they also try to create more and more fragments and costs and as a result delays in their businesses. Large companies and investors often get disappointed due to the yearly process of setting up their businesses and in some cases, they give up their interest in Greece.

                For example, the Canadian company “Eldorado Gold” has initiated their expansion in Greece and specifically in Chalkidiki. The company wanted to establish a metallurgical plant that will process ores mined in Skouries and Olympias. However, the company’s plan did not go that way. According to recent reports in Reuters, “Eldorado Gold Corp said on Tuesday it would seek 750 million euros ($877 million) from Greece for damages the Canadian miner said it suffered due to delays in the issuance of permits for its Skouries project. The differences between Eldorado and the government over the miner’s plans to produce gold and other metals in the northern Greek region of Halkidiki have dragged on for years, mainly over environmental regulations.

“We hope that this matter can be resolved in an amicable manner without needing to go down the route of arbitration,” said Chief Executive George Burns in a statement.”, reported by John Benny, written on 18th September 2018, “Eldorado Gold seeks $877 million compensation from Greece for permit delays”, available at https://www.reuters.com/article/us-greece-eldorado-gold/eldorado-gold-seeks-877-million-compensation-from-greece-for-permit-delays-idUSKCN1LY28H. Pending permits for Skouries, covering the construction of a smelter on site, have been delayed because of differences between Eldorado and the ministry’s technical experts regarding testing methods applied to comply with environmental regulations (Cecilia Jamasmie | November 9, 2017, “Eldorado halts investment in Greece’s Skouries project, sues Gov’t”, available at https://www.mining.com/eldorado-halts-investment-greeces-skouries-project-sues-govt/ ).

The former example, which is not the only one, indicates the problematic function and the lack of knowledge of the Greek administration. My interviewee, Mr. Dimitri Christopoulos is the legal representative of two of the biggest touristic projects in Greece that are in the process of legal permit, Atallanti Hills in Atalanti and Iliad Resort in Ithaca, having also being in charge in the past for several similar projects. Atalanti Hills and Iliad Resort are about a five- star resort that will be located in the above areas. Both projects count more than ten years of hypothetical existence and therefore legal procedures but they are still in papers. He was requested to be interviewed regarding the projects and the problems and difficulties their clients have faced for all these years. His answers are shortly presented thereinafter.

-Mr. Christopoulos, what issues have your clients and you have faced for the achievement of their projects:

“There has been a variety of issues to be treated but mainly there has been a gap in the mentality between the investors and the local market players, i.e. as they are coming from Anglo-Saxon country such as Australia, governed by common law, it is difficult for them to comprehend the requirements and prerequisites set forth by the Greek legislation and administration, as well as the EU framework”.

-How many years have you been trying the achievement and practical initiation of the projects and which are in your opinion the main causes of their long-term delay?

“There have been pursuing their vision for this project since 2005, when the due diligence and the acquisition of the first plots of land have been concluded. Ever since, the difficulty of the Greek administration to comprehend the importance of the project and to face in good faith the relevant challenges has been proven at time and energy consuming”.   

-What would you propose to the authorities for the facilitation of the investors and acceleration of the legal procedures?

“The standing legislation is more than adequate to face any issues that might rise. Actually, one might say that the legal framework is so advanced to the point the public sector and the administration cannot really get hold to it and use it properly in a productive manner. I suppose that the formation of forums and think tank teams as well as the participation of technocrats and businessmen in the broader governmental scheme will motivate the public servants to act on good faith and try to be proactive, i.e. to work together with the investors and not on the opposite sight”.  

As the issue of bureaucracy has unfortunately become fundamental element of the Greek mentality, the Greeks are now trying to improve or in some cases to completely change the way things work. According to an older report of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Greece has worked to strengthen its public finances and restore competitiveness as it emerges from a deep crisis, but it needs now to reduce the layers of administrative requirements on businesses to support economic growth and jobs, the report says. “This report takes a careful look at what it is costing Greek businesses to comply with rules and regulations which in many cases are unnecessary,” said OECD Deputy Chief of Staff Luiz de Mello, presenting the report in Athens. “Cutting some of this red tape would enable companies to spend less on administration and more on doing business.” (15/05/2014 – “Greece could save its businesses hundreds of millions of euros a year and improve their competitiveness by reducing administrative burdens, according to a new OECD report.”, available at https://www.oecd.org/greece/reducing-red-tape-in-business-would-boost-greek-productivity.htm).  The following scheme, exceeded from the report, presents the administrative areas that are possible to be reorganized in order for costs and delays to be reduced:

                As a conclusion, the enormous delay and inexplicable costs that the Greek public services might set, can often be enough not only to discourage but also to push away further investments that are about to begin.

Chapter 3: Research Methodology

3.1. Introduction

In this dissertation, it is used both primary and secondary research. The data were collected from all possible means dated since the last three years and having examined their validity and accuracy. The primary research has been also processed in accordance with the ethical standards without exceeding the limits of proper interviewing and the boundaries of the topic.

3.2. Research Philosophy

As the topic is a major political issue for the country and actual problematic of the economic life of Greece, the research attempts to stay close and in accordance with the today’s business life of Greece, as this has been evolving the last three years after the financial crisis of 2008. The data were collected in high distinction in order to avoid straight political thesis, thus presenting in an objective manner the problems of the state that have been located in Greece for years. Consequently, it is proposed through specific economic analysis, measures that need to be taken regarding the confrontation of those issues.

3.3. Research design

The primary method of research is about an interview undertaken from legal attorney Mr. Dimitrios Christopoulos, who has been legal advisor for years for some of the largest ongoing touristic investments in Greece. The interview is presented at the third part of the dissertation regarding the discussion upon the problem of Greek bureaucracy.

3.3.1. Secondary Research

At first, regarding Literature Review, I have used all kind of sources, i.e. Data Collection, Desktop research, Corporate Archive and Documentation. I have also used statistics and data analysis exceeding by Official Gazette, the Bank of Greece, as well as data analysis and reports processed by financial analysts such Price Waterhouse Couper and KPMG. The information conducted are about statistical analysis of economic data and reports, together with internet and academic essays.

3.3.2. Data collection 

The data were collected by wed sources, journals, statistics by global and local organizations, statistic authorities, banking sector reports and corporate documents.

Regarding the primary research, the interview has been structured and submitted in advance to the interviewee.

3.4. Research Limitations

The data have been collected by sources dated since the last three years. Almost no report has been used dated before the aforesaid time. The accuracy of the information presented is depended on the validity of the sources and their up-to-date verifications. Regarding the primary research, the interview was recorded. The date and place of the interview were mutually agreed. The interview was proceeded within the limits of confidentiality and academic responsibility.

3.5. Ethical considerations

My undergraduate and postgraduate background have been working on litigation, legal consultancy and research. I have been working in various projects that take place in Greece thus acquiring the principles of confidentiality and respect for each participating part. In that spirit, no conflict of interest has been occurred and as a result all the findings and the data collected are presented in an objective manner for the achievement of the academic purpose.

Chapter 4: Analysis and Findings

4.1. Introduction

Having presented some of the main investing areas in Greece as well as some of the basic problems that investors face during their businesses in the country, it is furthermore presented ways or possible solutions for their confrontation. It is therefore attempted to examine the findings occurred by the literature review and combine them with the data collected in order to provide answers for the initial research questions of the dissertation.

4.2 Analysis of Research Questions

It is now time to set forth the initial questions that motivated the researched procedure. As a reminder, they are set again herein for the readers to be problematized. Will the Greek pathogenesis be defeated by an innovative and hardworking model of business strategy? As final question reviewed as the conclusion of the research: Will a well-organized enterprise be able to achieve its business goal of investing in Greece without huge loss profit due to state delay? In other words, will the Greek economy make the business environment more “hospitable” for international investors thus assisting to its economic recovery?

The essence of the questions is actually about the sustainability of the Greek economy itself. The companies that have decided to try their luck in the country can be a motivational pressure for the Greek administration to fulfill their interests. On the other side, no matter what extraterritorial pressure might occur, the authorities and public services need to balance on their own to stand up for the needs of today’s entrepreneurship. 

4.2.1 Research Question 1

Will the Greek pathogenesis be defeated by an innovative and hardworking model of business strategy? As Mr. Christopoulos expressly stated in his interview, it is emergently necessary for Greece that the gap between investors and the state to be fulfilled. To do so, several steps and actions need to be proceeded.

To begin with, the legislation needs to be stabilized. According to Dolzer R., Schreuer C. in their book “Principles of International Investment Law” (page 7), “Under the rules of customary international law, no state is under an obligation to admit foreign investment to its territory, generally or in any particular segment of its economy. While the right to exclude and to regulate foreign investment is an expression of state sovereignty, the power to conclude treaties with other states will also be seen as flowing from the same concept”. In that spirit, Greece needs to set its policy regarding foreign investments in a standard, well secured and specific background. As mentioned before, for the last twenty years, law has been changed every four years, i.e. every new government usually introduces new rules regarding business, investments and taxation. As a result, no businessman will ever feel completely confident about the security of the investment proceeded. PwC, in its report called “From recession to recovery”, issued on 2018, states that not only the existing laws need to be codified, but also that the number of the new voted laws need to be eliminated. Moreover, the judicial authorities of the country need to contribute to faster and more accurate court rulings that will resolve rather than extend the legal conflicts that might occur (page 31, https://www.pwc.com/gr/en/publications/greek-thought-leadership/policies-towards-investment-acceleration.html) .

                Moreover, technocrats and experts need to be intermediate between entrepreneurs and public authorities, in order for them to avoid all the unnecessary paperwork and lost energy and time. Enterprise Greece (EG) is an organization of the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which was founded to promote foreign major investments in the country. The foundation usually examines each project and depending on its scale and accuracy accelerates the issuance of its legal permit. https://www.enterprisegreece.gov.gr/en/greece-today . Despite its sole purpose, EG needs to be embodied with highly expertise people who will assist each government and public authority to organize in a better way the upcoming projects. In other words, investors need to address to specialized agencies and solicitors that in collaboration with Enterprise Greece will set in priority the legal permit, funding and enforcement of their projects.

In the same attitude, special laws have been voted that are deemed as crucial for the elimination of bureaucracy and unnecessary costs and delays. One of those examples is the new procedure for the establishment of a sharing company, which in contrast to what used to be, it can now be founded electronically in less than an hour. Greece has launched an online platform where entrepreneurs can set up a new company in less than an hour. The new digital service, Electronic One Stop Shop, offers the possibility to every entrepreneur to avoid the notorious Greek bureaucracy and many coming and going to institutions and conclude the set of his company in fast track of even 15 minutes if he has all required data and documents at hand. “Already this morning, the first company was set up in a procedure that started at 8:39 and concluded at 9:10,” the Secretary General of Commerce and Consumer Protection Dimitris Avlonitis told to “athensnewsagency” on Monday (reported by “keeptalkinggreece.com”, July 23, 2018, “Greece launches One Stop Shop service to set up company online” available at https://www.keeptalkinggreece.com/2018/07/23/greece-set-up-company-online/  ).

                Furthermore, the big issue of adequate funding and resources needs to be confronted with the reorganization of the banking sector. NPE and their definite cut-off from the banks’ portfolio is crucial in order for them to become competitive again in external and internal markets (page 36, https://www.pwc.com/gr/en/publications/greek-thought-leadership/policies-towards-investment-acceleration.html ) Nevertheless, investors need to be well equipped regarding their due diligence and find a proper way to cooperate with compliance departments of the banking and financial authorities. The new EU framework regarding anti money laundering control makes every transaction to be well justified and permitted. In other words, possible persistent inquiries of the Greek authorities regarding capitals and funding background or even repetitive request for company due diligence is probably occurring due to above legislation that makes all the key players to work in harmony and good faith altogether.

                Another big issue that encourages the businessmen to go for Greece is the complete digitalization of the Greek administration that is currently processed. For the last eight years, it is attempted the transparency of transactions to be achieved. In that spirit, the whole public sector, as well as banking services, is gradually transformed into a large digitalized market. According to Giannis Charalampidis and its recent report in the Economist, it is stated as following: “The international practice shows that the fast adaption of new technologies, such as artificial intelligence and blockchain, can actually help countries as Greece, which do not have the necessary capitals for the evolution of heavy industry. In others words, all the countries want to participate into that new market, despite they do not have the advantages of Greece, i.e.: the constant graduation of highly educated information-technology experts, the trend for globalization and entrepreneurship, the infrastructure, the geostrategic position of Greece as well as the quality of life that can be offered to post-millennials generations, are indeed utilizable data for investments” (Giannis Charampidis, Deputy Professor, Aegean University, research published in The Economist, annual edition, “The world in 2019”, page 178).  The digital era is estimated that will significantly contribute to the improvement of public services and the banking sector; therefore, the acceleration of procedures will be hopefully achieved.

                In other words, foreign investors need to be well prepared for the abnormalities of the country, thus putting more and more political pressure for the achievement of the above measures. There is a huge number of successful businesses that despite the difficulties they initially failed, they have made to establish in the area. On the other hand, the proper guidance needs to be taken. Foreigners should address to specialized agencies and solicitors who are aware of the Greek reality. In this way, they will save themselves from money and time, as they will not be surprised by the situation they might see.

4.2.3. Research question 2

Will a well-organized enterprise be able to achieve its business goal of investing in Greece without huge loss profit due to state delay?

The second question of the research make the reader wonder whether finally an investment in Greece can be profitable or not.

It is set herein a recent statistical analysis of the landmarks of Greek economy for the last five years, as it was published by Eurostat recently and were exceeded by Enterprise Greece (available at https://www.enterprisegreece.gov.gr/en/greece-today/why-greece/the-greek-economy  ).

Major Economic Indicators

                                                            2012       2013      2014      2015       2016       2017       2018

GDP (Constant prices 2010)                   -7.3%     -3.2%     0.7%     -0.4%    -0.2%    +1.5%    +1.9%

Inflation: Annual Average                         1.5%     -0.9%     -1.3%      -1.7%    -0.8%    1.1%      0.6%

Labour Productivity (EU-28=100)**           85.8       86.8       86.1        83.2       81.3       80.3      n.a.

Unemployment Rate                              24.4%   27.5%    26.5%     24.9%   23.5%   21.5%    19.3%

Public Investments (%GDP)**                 2.5%    3.4%      3.7%       3.8%     3.5%     4.4%      n.a.

Exports (Goods – Current Prices)*            27.6    27.3        27.1       25.8       25.5       28.9        33.4

Imports (Goods – Current Prices)*            49.5   47.0        48.3       43.6       44.2       50.3        55.2

*billion Euros

According to the above data, it is indicated that the public investments have been increased about 2% since 2012. The trend for investments has not been occurred by incident, as the financial crisis created huge opportunities for transactions due to price reduction of assets value. “The new economy of Greece is in the making. In 2019, investment opportunities in Greece have become attractive and widely available in sectors like Travel and Tourism, Defence and Aerospace, Maritime, Agricultural products and Renewable Energy. It is projected that by the unraveling of the next decade, the nation is to see a massive boost in Tourism and Logistics. Additionally, Greece has an upper hand on human capital, advanced infrastructure and is currently a country with great potential for rejuvenating its economy. This is why the scenic country has been attracting investors from around the world to make new partnership and business deals. Greece is focusing on a long-term sustainable growth strategy, which will eventually yield favorable results for the investors as well. Greece continues to be the economic hub of Southeast Europe”, as reported by Business-Setup Consultants, written on Feb. 11th 2019 (available at: https://www.businesssetup.com/blog/3-reasons-why-you-need-to-invest-in-greece ).  

Other researchers on the ground have also introduced the successful route of large investments that took place in Greece after financial crisis. Andreas Yannopoulos is founder of Public Affairs & Networks and the InvestGR Forum. In the last forum organized at the Athens Hilton Hotel on June 11, 2019, he stated as following: “This may come as a surprise, but Greece really is a good place to invest. Over the years – and even including the financial crisis – the American, European and Asian firms that dared to venture into the Greek market did well on balance. Not all of them prospered and some failed. Greece is still not the easiest place to invest. But overall there are countless success stories including a Chinese shipping giant, a German retailer, a telecom world leader and a multinational construction company.

And many have been good for Greece, sometimes in unexpected ways. The concession to build and operate Athens International Airport, awarded to German construction giant Hochtief more than 20 years ago, helped pioneer Greek legislation on public-private partnerships. It has also created thousands of jobs, helped increase tourism flows to the country, and boosted government coffers with concession fees and taxes, while earning a profit for its shareholders.

Another German airport operator, Fraport, is now making the same bet on Greece by investing more than a billion euros in the 14 regional airports it currently runs.

Telecommunications leader Deutsche Telekom also showed faith in Greece when it paid top dollar for a stake in Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE) before the crisis, and has raised its share in the company on several occasions since then. It has proven to be a very good investment over the years and, reportedly, offset a disastrous earnings cycle for Deutsche Telekom in the US – it is no exaggeration to say that OTE helped save the German giant.

Another German company, supermarket chain Lidl, is now celebrating its 20th year of operations in Greece. Since its launch in 1999, the company has invested 1.3 billion euros in Greece and has hired more than 5,000 employees. It is planning to invest another 120 million euros over the next year and hire roughly another 500 staff by then.

A major foreign investment success story is Chinese shipping company Cosco, which paid a small fortune in 2009 for part of the Piraeus container operations. Ten years later, it has taken control of the rest of the port, is planning to invest more than a billion euros and has hired more than 1,000 employees (so far). In the process, it has transformed Piraeus from a backwater to one of the top 10 container ports in Europe.

To be sure, there have been unhappy stories too, due to the depth and intensity of the economic crisis, like the decisions by French companies Credit Agricole and Carrefour to exit Greece during the height of the crisis. Several other, smaller foreign banks also sold their few assets and packed up shop.

But the foreign multinationals which stayed the course mostly saw opportunity. According to a Metron Analysis survey conducted for the 1st InvestGR Forum 2018, Foreign Investments in Greece (investgr.eu) last July, almost nine out of 10 multinationals already operating in Greece have invested even more in the country in the last five or more years. That made them just about the only companies investing in Greece during the crisis. In the same period, domestic private investment collapsed: from a level equal to 18 percent of gross domestic product before the crisis, to less than one-tenth now.”, (available at http://www.ekathimerini.com/237560/article/ekathimerini/business/surprise-greece-can-be-a-good-place-to-invest ).

As a conclusion, it is obvious that business in Greece can be harsh, as business always is, but the risk assessment can be balanced thus creating profit for the entrepreneurs.

 

4.3. Analysis of findings

To sum up, the upper data can lead us to the following conclusion. Investments in Greece can be successful and keep rising. It is up to the enterpreuneur to be well prepared to confront the difficulties that the authorities might create, as in any other country in the world. On the other hand, there is a number of things that nowhere else could be found than Greece. The outstanding natural beauty, the natural resources, the unbeatable lifestyle, the tremendous weather conditions and climate, the amazing ancient history and culture, the unique geostrategic position are some of the one-of-a- kind opportunities that Greece shall provide (“5 Reasons To Invest In Greece in 2019”, written on December 28, 2018 by David Schneider https://www.8020investors.com/blog/5-reasons-to-invest-in-greece-2019/  )

Chapter 5: Discussion over the research questions

According to the above analysis, it is now time to decide whether the research questions can find a positive answer or not. I personally believe that both questions can be answered in a positive way. In consideration of all the data collected, it is proved that Greece can be a hospitable environment for businesses to be established. However, a foreign investor needs to be well prepared for the Greek reality and have assured the right assistance of experts. With proper guidance and a strong team of people with high confidentiality and expertise, all the hurdles will be easily overpassed. The right and serious preparation of each project is necessary for the avoidance of extra delays due to lack of organization. In other words, a foreign investor needs to follow the moto “Know yourself, know the others, know the project”. In that case, no technical inadequacy could stand against any business goal.

                On the other hand, Greek public servants need to overcome false mentality and attitudes of the past. The administration needs to cooperate with the citizens, either foreign or local and actually assist him/her to any action he/she wants to proceed. The financial crisis gave the opportunity for many people to start from zero again. The same happens with the state as well. It is not easy to erase attitudes and practices which took place for years but on the other hand, positive vibes for transformation of the old bad habits are being sent quite loud. I believe that the curious spirit that Greeks inherited by their ancestors is not lost and modern Greeks, following their own path, will rebuild this place in a more solid ground.

Chapter 6: Conclusion and Recommendations

6.1. Introduction

Having presented some of the major investments in Greece, it is concluded that business can meet high profit and progression in the country. The pathologies and problems that a potential investor shall meet upon the initiation of its business could be often met in any other country.

6.2. Aim and Objectives of the Dissertation

The aim of the dissertation has been to present the investing framework in Greece for the last three years and the problems that an investor might face. It was also proposed of variety of measures and possible ideas and recommendations for the facilitation of the investor, thus creating a technical guide for the harmonization of the business with the local community and vice versa.

6.3 Brief Discussion of Findings Significance

The particularities of Greek economy that might drive away a possible investor are shortly presented in the current dissertation, thus proposing for solution and ideas for their deterioration. The improvement of public services and the acquirement of spirit of cooperation with and facilitation towards the investors are some of the necessities of the state. Moreover, the digitalization of the banking sector and its compliance with the European regulation for the protection of the transactions and the provision against money laundering, need to be seen away from exaggerated obsession with the bureaucracy that creates even bigger difficulty for funding and transactions.

In other words, Greece needs to liberate itself from the pathologies and issues that have been located for years in the country. The financial crisis has led not only to economic reconstruction but also to the necessary transformation of its mentality. The false impression of self-esteem collapsed after the capital controls and the supervision of the country by the International Monetary Foundation.  As a result, more and more collaborations are announced between local and foreign companies in order for them to survive and remain productive.

6.4 Closing this study

Consequently, investments are in the middle of the country’s interest for the last three years, thus making them necessary for the progression of businesses in Greece. Technology, tourism, infrastructure and energy are vital for the improvement of local economy, but also for the financial growth of hundreds of companies. The pathologies and disadvantages that an investor could face upon the initiation of its business are more or less a phenomenon that could possibly meet in any country would go. However, the advantages of Greece and its special beauty, geology and position are not often met in the world. The climate, the sun, the sea, the geological and energy wealth, the extremely important position between three continents, the tradition and the history are only some of the special figures of Greece that make the country worth investing.

 

References:      

http://greeklawdigest.gr/topics/tax/item/283-tax-introduction

Nikos Karagiannis, The big projects of the country, written in 27th June 2017, available at  https://www.ypodomes.com/index.php/all-news/item/41290-ta-megala-energeiaka-project-tis-xoras

Press Release of the Ministry of Environment and Energy, available at http://www.ypeka.gr/Default.aspx?tabid=785&sni[524]=6315&language=el-GR

https://www.icgb.eu/about/igb_project

Trans Adriatic Pipeline, written in 16th May 2019, available at https://www.tap-ag.com/news-and-events/2019/05/16/over-87-of-trans-adriatic-pipeline-complete-three-years-after-construction-start

The International Energy Agency, https://www.iea.org/countries/Greece/

“Tilos project”, written in 16th August 2018, available at http://ecopress.gr/?p=12296

Greece Renewable Agency, report last published in 20th June 2019 for the export.com, available at https://www.export.gov/article?id=Greece-Renewable-Energy

Entreprise Greece, Energy sector, https://www.enterprisegreece.gov.gr/en/invest-in-greece/sectors-for-growth/energy

“Israelis investing in real estate in Greece”, written in 20th September 2018, available at https://nexuslaw.gr/en/israelis-investing-in-real-estate-in-greece/

“Athens Real Estate Investment Climate Heats up, written in 2nd April 2019 by Nick Kampouris, available at https://greece.greekreporter.com/2019/04/02/athens-real-estate-investment-climate-heats-up/.

“Greece, Among the top10 for touristic investments”, Economistas article written in 07th March 2019, available at https://www.economistas.gr/epiheiriseis/9436_sto-top-10-i-ellada-gia-toyristikes-ependyseis

Enterprise Greece tourist guide report for 2019, available at https://www.enterprisegreece.gov.gr/assets/content/files/c10/a1497/f52/tourism%20teaser.PDF

“The Greek Golden Visa Program: Residence Permit by Investment (Law 4251/2014)”, written by Vera Alexandropoulou, 22-04-2019, http://www.greeklawdigest.gr/topics/citizens-the-state/item/285-the-greek-golden-visa-program-residence-permit-by-investment-law-4251-2014

https://www.pwc.com/gr/en/publications/greek-thought-leadership/policies-towards-investment-acceleration.html

http://www.greeklawdigest.gr/topics/finance-investment/item/40-banking-system

Louise Bowman, Februrary 18th, 2019, “Time is running out for the Greek NPE’s”, full article available at   https://www.euromoney.com/article/b1d5y30tw5d8yz/time-is-running-out-for-greek-npls

https://www.aade.gr/menoy/xeplyma-chrematos

Paul Douglas, “Compliance and Regulation, Banks are gone mad?”, Published by CONNECT, 18 September 2017, available at https://www.accurofiduciary.com/insight/compliance-and-regulation-banking-gone-mad

Prokopis Hatzinikolaou, Kathimerini news, 26th June 2018, “Corporate tax rates drive investors away”, available at http://www.ekathimerini.com/230095/article/ekathimerini/business/corporate-tax-rates-drive-investors-away

Theodore Fortsakis, Tax Introduction, article, written in 5th March 2019 for the “Greek Law Digest, the Official Guide to Greek Law”, available at http://greeklawdigest.gr/topics/tax/item/283-tax-introduction

PwC, “Greek real estate taxation, a brief summary”, page 2,  available at https://www.pwc.com/gr/en/publications/Greek%20real%20estate%20taxation.summary.May2018.pdf

John Benny, written on 18th September 2018, “Eldorado Gold seeks $877 million compensation from Greece for permit delays”, available at https://www.reuters.com/article/us-greece-eldorado-gold/eldorado-gold-seeks-877-million-compensation-from-greece-for-permit-delays-idUSKCN1LY28H

Cecilia Jamasmie | November 9, 2017, “Eldorado halts investment in Greece’s Skouries project, sues Gov’t”, available at https://www.mining.com/eldorado-halts-investment-greeces-skouries-project-sues-govt/

OECD Report, 15/05/2014 – “Greece could save its businesses hundreds of millions of euros a year and improve their competitiveness by reducing administrative burdens, according to a new OECD report.”, available at https://www.oecd.org/greece/reducing-red-tape-in-business-would-boost-greek-productivity.htm).

https://www.enterprisegreece.gov.gr/en/greece-today 

“keeptalkinggreece.com”, July 23, 2018, “Greece launches One Stop Shop service to set up company online” available at https://www.keeptalkinggreece.com/2018/07/23/greece-set-up-company-online/ )

Dolzer R., Schreuer C., “Principles of International Investment Law”, Oxford University Press, first published 2008.

Giannis Charampidis, Deputy Professor, Aegean University, research published in The Economist, annual edition, “The world in 2019”, page 178

“The Greek economy report ”, available at https://www.enterprisegreece.gov.gr/en/greece-today/why-greece/the-greek-economy

“3 Reasons Why You Need To Invest In Greece in 2019?”, reported by Business-Setup Consultants, written in Feb. 11th 2019 (available at: https://www.businesssetup.com/blog/3-reasons-why-you-need-to-invest-in-greece)

“Surprise: Greece can be a good place to invest”, written by Andreas Yannopoulos, on Feb. 10th 2019, published in Kathimerini press, available at http://www.ekathimerini.com/237560/article/ekathimerini/business/surprise-greece-can-be-a-good-place-to-invest

“5 Reasons To Invest In Greece in 2019”, written on December 28, 2018 by David Schneider https://www.8020investors.com/blog/5-reasons-to-invest-in-greece-2019/ )

 

 

 

 

Maria Vdokaki, Attorney at Law, LLM Cardiff Metropolitan University, Associate D.C. Christopoulos & Partners