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Press Conference in Thessaloniki

“Today, more than ever, the international economic developments and the prevailing conditions in Greece dictate the need for stronger and therefore, more competitive business partnerships at both international and regional level. Mergers and acquisitions can lead to the creation of larger Greek business structures, which, apart for momentum, should have a productive and commercial magnitude that will promote their international competitiveness. These partnerships can exploit economies of scale, implement investment projects and innovations, achieve competitive trading conditions and financial transactions, gain more effective access to debt and equity capital in international markets, efficiently expand to international networks and distribution centres and adopt modern management and staffing practices.
At an international level, the crisis has also created opportunities to be exploited by companies and by the national economy, in order to reroute the Greek economy to a path of long-term growth. We must all take part in this effort.
Eurobank EFG undertook a series of initiatives and commitments aimed at encouraging the development of extrovert businesses and giving new impetus to productive investments, infrastructure, alternative energy sources and environmentally friendly technologies”.
These comments were made by the Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Eurobank EFG Group Group, Mr. Nikolaos Karamouzis, at a press conference held on the occasion of an event for entrepreneurs - customers in Thessaloniki. The event was introduced by Messrs:
  • Nikos Pentzos, President of the Federation of Industries of Northern Greece
  • Andreas Andreadis, President of the Hellenic Hotels Federation and
  • Vasilis Thomaidis, President of the Greek International Business Association
Mr. Karamouziswas accompanied byMr. G. Marinos, General Manager, Head of Corporate Banking, Mr. P. Mantas, General Manager, Head of Corporate Banking Network and Mrs. V. Karayiannis, Assistant General Manager, Sector Manager of Northern Greece.
In his presentation, Mr. Karamouzis stressed that the country’s new growth orientation cannot be based, as in the past, on strong domestic consumption and government consumption expenditure, but should rather be based on:
  • the strengthening of the financial openness/extroversion of Greek businesses,
  • the upgrade of the quality of products and services,
  • the strengthening of savings of both private and public investment, particularly in the productive base of the country, infrastructure projects, renewable energy and companies with export orientation,
  • the creation of a friendly environment for entrepreneurship, to attract capital and encourage investment,
  • the implementation of the necessary reforms and structural changes to promote the country’s competitiveness
  • the creation of an effective and flexible public sector, neat, remunerative in services, with fixed rules and fiscal policies, that will support strategic vision and sound entrepreneurship, investment, a more effective social policy and an extrovert growth orientation.
Achieving these objectives, Mr. Karamouzis said, requires collective effort. Moreover, it requires a wider open, however structured, dialogue in society with all stakeholders, to formulate a new evolution course for the country, which will successfully deal with the challenges of the times, as well as with the   structural problems, such as the large current account deficit, weak competitiveness, high public debt and budget deficits.
He added:
“As regards Eurobank, its position is clear. In recent years, it has consistently supported and will continue to firmly support, Greek entrepreneurship. It is significant that the Bank’s business lending in Greece has grown in the last 5 years, at an average annual growth rate of 20%, with the balance of business loans, at the end of 2008, amounting to € 24 billion. Furthermore, the Bank improved its share in exports to 17%  in 2008, and is, in terms of balances, the market leader in leasing in Greece while also leading export factoring in Europe”.
In Northern Greece in particular, Eurobank operates one Large Corporate Unit (i.e companies with annual turnover of more than € 25 million) in Thessaloniki, as well as seven Business Centres (four in Thessaloniki and one each in Kavala, Volos and Larissa) and two Business Units (Alexandroupolis, Komotini) to serve companies with annual turnover of more than € 2.5 million. This network covers the needs of approximately 850 clients, with loan balances of approximately € 1.5 billion.
In addition, through a network of 116 retail branches in Northern Greece, the Bank works with some 40,000 small businesses and professionals, representing a loan book of approximately € 2 billion.
Moreover, to better meet the needs of the Group’s customers, the Bank operates two Private Banking units (in Thessaloniki and Volos), a Eurobank EFG Securities office in Thessaloniki, while EFG Leasing and EFG Factors, through local offices in Thessaloniki, offer their services, all the time, with the aid of their specialized executives.
Introducing the axes of Eurobank’s new initiatives, Mr. G. Marinos said that, to support the new growth orientation that emerges as a necessity for the country in the current environment, the Bank:
  • Commits to provide € 1.5 billion to finance major infrastructure projects, Public Private Partnerships projects and renewable energy power projects in the coming years.
  • Establishes an internal private equity fund of € 30 million while mobilizing an additional € 100 million from private investors and/or private equity companies in order to acquire minority stakes in enterprises that invest in alternative energy sources or merge to shape powerful export-oriented schemes.
  • Regarding public-private partnerships, where 52 projects for a total budget € 5.7 billion have been approved, Eurobank has a leading role and has already organized and funded the first partnership project (fire stations). Especially in the area of large infrastructure projects, requiring a capital of € 7 billion in the coming years, Eurobank is the funding organizer in three major projects, including the Thessaloniki underwater artery, and advisor in three others.
  • For tourism, which contributes about 18% in the GDP and directly or indirectly employs 16% of the national workforce, Eurobank, with loan balances of over € 1.1 billion and lending growth rates of around 50% in the past three years, promotes the flexible restructuring of debt, funds hotel renovations with favourable terms, and provides working capital against discounting future claims from international tour operators.
  • In specific, specialized pioneering support programs were also developed for the Greek export enterprises whose participation in the development of the country must be expanded (e.g. financing of manufacturing infrastructure, orders’ and invoices’ discounting, VAT discounting with assignment of the relevant claim of the export business against the Greek state, insurance of export risks).
  • Moreover, Eurobank aims to work closely with businesses in Thessaloniki and fund initiatives that aim to promote the competitiveness and extroversion of businesses and the economy.
Closing his speech, Mr. Karamouzis said that these new initiatives by Eurobank for the strengthening of investments and the export orientation of companies and the national economy are further supported by the fact that the Group has achieved a strong regional role in the wider area of New Europe, already present – apart from Greece - in 9 countries with a network of 1,200 branches and business centres and 13,000 employees abroad.