The European Bank For Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has reiterated its support for Greece and sees “enormous opportunities” in the country. Alain Pilloux, the Bank’s Vice President, Banking, told a well-attended panel on the investment outlook for Greece (EBRD’s Annual Meeting & Business Forum, 11 May, Nicosia, Cyprus): “We will continue to ramp up operations in Greece so that our contribution to economic recovery is maximised during our temporary mandate in the country.”

Minister of Economy and Development, Dimitri Papadimitriou, stated: “The Greek economy is entering a period of growth which was confirmed by international lenders. There has been strong growth in exports, tourism, retail sales, bank deposits and an increase in wage and employment, with 92,000 full-time jobs being created.”

He estimated the Greek economy would grow by 2 per cent this year. But although a “new economic reality and political stability are here”, the minister warned: “The Greek economy is not out of the woods yet. We still need more foreign and direct investments.”

EBRD Vice President Pilloux confirmed the Bank’s readiness to support Greece in attracting investors: “Our role is to facilitate and encourage investment and to work with Greek and international companies.”

He also mentioned several sectors where he sees potential for a further increase of EBRD activities in Greece, namely the financial sector, tourism, infrastructure, equity, power and energy – especially under the new €300 million framework for green energy – and support for privatisations. Referring to the recently signed agreement for 14 regional Greek airports he said: “We would very much welcome the opportunity to support further privatisations.”

The EBRD started investing in Greece in 2015 on a temporary basis with the goal of supporting the country’s recovery from its current economic crisis. The Bank’s aim is to encourage foreign and domestic investment, strengthen the role of the private sector and deepen regional integration.

To date, the EBRD has invested about €1 billion in Greece with projects in the financial sector, infrastructure and renewable energy, among others.

Greece is a founding member of the EBRD and to date Greek companies and banks have invested €2.3 billion in the EBRD’s existing countries of operations, with a focus on south-eastern Europe. Under the Vienna Initiative, the EBRD supported the subsidiaries of Greek banks in the region at the height of the global financial crisis. The Government of Greece requested that the country be granted recipient country status at the EBRD in a letter dated 25 November 2014, which said EBRD engagement would ”provide value added in tackling the consequences of the financial and economic crisis and addressing the structural challenges in the  Greek economy that it exposed”. The request was reconfirmed by the new Government on 2 February 2015.

Main source: EBRD sees “enormous opportunities” in Greece; Read more: The EBRD in Greece