"Conditions are now ripe for the private sector to assume its role as well as its responsibilities as the economy’s real development lever."
“Conditions are now ripe for the private sector to assume its role as well as its responsibilities as the economy’s real development lever. Private initiative must prove that it has the capabilities, shares this modern perception, is steadily looking for ways of constantly improving knowledge and quality and does not shun competing with the best foreign competitors. It also needs to prove that it adopts and applies modern management and administration systems, based on transparency and respect for the principles of corporate governance. Today, therefore, the challenge we all have to meet is moving rapidly towards a competitive model focusing on the quality of our services, integrating modern know-how, building on technology and introducing up to date management techniques.”
Nicholas Nanopoulos, EFG Eurobank’s Chief Executive Officer, underscored these points as he addressed the business community of Northern Greece during a luncheon in Thessaloniki (Thursday, 15/09/2005). The luncheon was attended by about 200 businessmen from Thessaloniki and the broader Northern Greece region, active in the sectors of industry, trade, tourism, shipping and construction. Politicians and representatives of the local community were also present at the lunch together with EFG Eurobank’s Deputy Chief Executive Officers, Byron Ballis and Nikolaos Karamouzis, as well as top executives.
In his speech, Mr. N. Nanopoulos referred to the economic climate emphasizing, that “our country is presently facing critical conditions that will test our ability to build a new, long term strategy of stable and sustainable development based on up to date and internationally competitive models. In such an environment, our economy, our business activities, our production, our education, the way we operate as a society should constantly evolve towards increasingly more modern and competitive models. We now need an economic model, which is more extrovert, more performing, clearly focused on private initiative and entrepreneurship, based on rationalizing, as well as limiting the State’s role in the economy, a state that is ineffective and overburdened with debt today”. EFG Eurobank’s Chief Executive Officer then spoke of the government’s initiatives aimed at improving the budgetary situation and more generally of the structural changes in all sectors, stressing that further deregulation of markets such as the energy market should be encouraged, as well as the liberalisation of regulated professions, in order to improve competition in all economic sectors.
Mr. Nanopoulos clearly stated that there is a need to create conditions that will sustain annual growth rates of more than 3% in future. To achieve this, over and above everything else, the public sector’s operation needs to be rationalised so as to become an effective booster for economic activity. This will require “bold measures with the view to combating bureaucracy, ensuring transparency and predictability of procedures, a stable and growth oriented tax system, a simplified and modern system of issuing permits, combating corruption that is the source of many problems such as loss of revenue because of tax evasion”. Mr. Nanopoulos added that, “growth needs to rely on the new, knowledge-based society and cutting-edge technology. We thus have to give emphasis to the continuous upgrading of our human resources through substantial investments in education, research and development in response to the needs of the market and the economy. Capitalising relevant knowledge and upgrading skills especially those of young people, is the first step for enhancing the country’s position in the world economic competition arena”.
Mr. Nanopoulos then stressed that, “the EFG Eurobank Group fully supports those organisations that create new business opportunities in the broader region. EFG Eurobank has been following in recent years a long-term and carefully designed expansion strategy in the rapidly developing countries of Southeastern Europe (Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia-Montenegro, Poland as well as Turkey) with the view to consolidating its position as a strong and pioneering financial group in these markets where it operates on the basis of its successful domestic business model. We are thus able to support, fully and effectively, the activities of business people in these markets with our group’s high quality services. We estimate that until the end of this year we shall have a network of about 400 branches in the broader region. In the domestic market, in spite of strong competition, we continue to have the highest growth rates in all sectors, steadily increasing our market shares, while maintaining at the same time high, sound and sustainable profitability levels, as shown once again by the latest available half-year results. This progress is the outcome of a successful combination of innovative products and quality services, greater efficiency, the determination and dedication of our people and cost restraint”.
Concluding his presentation of the EFG Eurobank Group, Mr. N. Nanopoulos referred in more detail to certain banking operations such as professional and business credit (which offer products and services that meet special requirements), integrated asset management and private banking (EFG Eurobank being the largest mutual funds manager, recognized as the best bank in Greece in private banking) as well as insurance (a market where EFG Eurobank has already moved to second position in the life insurance sector).