CHAIRMAN AND CEO OF ENTERPRISE GREECE
Greece 2019 I Economy I Leader
BIOGRAPHY he is a Chemical Engineer and holds a Master’s degree in Advanced Integrated Design from the Houldsworth School of Applied Sciences, University of Leeds in the UK, from where he graduated with distinction. He has an extensive professional experience in the oil industry and has worked in various companies both in Greece and abroad. He was appointed CEO of Hellenic Petroleum Group in 2015.
“THE TIME TO INVEST IN GREECE IS NOW AND ENTERPRISE GREECE WILL BE BY YOUR SIDE AT EVERY STEP OF THE WAY.”
WHAT HAVE YOUR MAIN ACHIEVEMENTS BEEN AND HOW HAS YOUR EXPERIENCE AS THE CEO OF HELPE, ONE OF EUROPE’S LEADING ENERGY GROUPS, HELPED YOU IN THIS NEW CHALLENGE?
My background in the energy sector is very relevant, since this is a key sector for growth and FDI in Greece. I speak the same language as investors and business owners, I understand their concerns and know what they are looking for. Greece is emerging as a regional energy hub for Southeast Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean. Several new energyrelated investment projects – from LNG facilities to pipelines like the Trans Adriatic Pipeline – are now coming on line. The government has just completed the sale of the national gas transmission operator DESFA, while Hellenic Petroleum is in the process of being privatized now. Each of these projects represent major inflows of foreign direct investment into Greece.
In the last six months, one of our achievements has been the ongoing outreach to prospective business partners in China and India, both of which we visited late last year. But the real challenge for me lies ahead. The agency will be taking on an increasingly active role in coordinating Greece’s strategy for attracting and supporting foreign investment, and Enterprise Greece will have to be ready for its new responsibilities.
CAN YOU SHARE WITH US YOUR PLANS FOR ENTERPRISE GREECE?
Greece has entered a new era: last summer the country exited the last of its financial support agreements and the economy is now in its second year of an accelerating recovery. Exports and FDI inflows are growing at double digit rates and both are at historic highs. Recently, Greece successfully reentered the international bond markets. The Greek government has set the goal of roughly doubling FDI over the next few years to reach the European average of 5% of GDP which will reach 1015% of GDP in the medium term. The heart of our strategy depends on Greece continuing its transformation into a more open, competitive and outward oriented economy.
Greece is already garnering the attention of foreign investors because the country has successfully entered a new era. The economy is recovering, exports and tourism are booming, privatizations are gathering pace, and Greece offers many advantages and opportunities: attractive asset prices, excellent human resources, a geostrategic location, as well as a breathtaking landscape and Mediterranean climate.
Facilitating investment is a top priority at the political level and shared across party lines and government institutions from the national to the local level. Several important reforms have already been passed, and more are in the pipeline. At Enterprise Greece, we work to serve investors and be the advocate for investors and business at the policy level and at the practical level. Already we manage qualifying strategic investments through the Fast Track program, which offers a number of important advantages to investors, and we also maintain the office of the ombudsman for the investor, which resolves bureaucratic problems facing projects when they arise. To date, we have successfully resolved almost all such cases. Furthermore, we work closely with local government officials and businesses in the regions of Greece to maximize the business potential of the particular area and to streamline specific projects for investors.
“FACILITATING INVESTMENT IS A TOP PRIORITY AT THE POLITICAL LEVEL AND SHARED ACROSS PARTY LINES AND GOVERNMENT INSTITUTIONS FROM THE NATIONAL TO THE LOCAL LEVEL.”
WHAT ARE THE MAIN ADVANTAGES THAT GREECE HAS TO OFFER TO INVESTORS?
Greece has definitively returned to growth, but the country went through a crushing financial crisis to get there, and this means that labor and real estate costs remain depressed. Coupled with this are the ambitious plans by the Greek banks to clear their portfolios of nonperforming exposures, which opens attractive opportunities for savvy investors. These conditions create an auspicious window for investors to take advantage of the enduring strengths of Greece: a highly educated workforceparticularly in engineering, life sciences and ICT; excellent physical and digital infrastructure; a profusion of highquality products ranging from food & beverages, to pharmaceuticals and construction materials; an unbeatable location at the crossroads between three continents; a peerless tourism brand; and a vigorous startup ecosystem.
IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT ARE THE MAIN ADVANTAGES OF FOREIGN INVESTMENTS FOR GREECE’S ECONOMY?
The Greece of today is a new Greece, on a growth curve, with exports rising and with foreign companies investing in everything from hotels to public infrastructure. It offers attractive asset prices, top notch human resources, a strategic location, a pleasant climate and a high quality of life.
There are direct and indirect advantages to foreign investment. Among the direct ones are FDI’s contribution to GDP growth, the increase of employment, the boosting of extroversion, etc. Among the indirect ones are the osmosis of techniques, processes, competitiveness and reinforcement of the need for structure modernisation, public governance, both central and local, and mainly the social adjustment to the international business culture. In this respect, investment is not an option derived from a crisis, but a necessity for modernisation.
In the new global map of interdependencies between countries, continents and cultures, Greece must enhance all its efforts aiming at multimember investment and export, and claim what it deserves. The time to invest in Greece is now and Enterprise Greece will be by your side at every step of the way.