With a successful track record of 13 years, Capital Link’s Investor Forum on Greece is an institution that fosters closer relations between the investment and business communities of Greece and the United States. This year’s attendance reached 832 participants. The objective of the forum is to update U.S. investors on the Greek economy, government economic policy and objectives, capital markets, the main sectors of business activity in Greece, as well as business and investment opportunities.
Nicolas Bornozis, President of Capital Link, highlighted the significance of reaching out directly to the wider investment community, especially during the turbulent and volatile times at present. Today, when Greece attracts worldwide attention, it is vital to ensure that proper information is made available to investors; Capital Link’s Investor Forum on Greece aims to provide this direct link. He stressed that with the reforms implemented in Greece, the country is truly at a new stage—“A New Beginning.
”The Luncheon Keynote Speaker was the Greek Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance, Professor Evangelos Venizelos, who addressed the audience via webcast. Ms. Arianna Huffington, President and Editor-in-Chief of The Huffington Post Media Group, and Mr. Jay Collins, Vice Chairman of Global Banking and Managing Director of the Public Sector Group at Citi, made introductory remarks.
Arianna Huffington pointed to the need to change the narrative concerning Greece by focusing on optimism, solutions and the incredible resilience of the Greek character, instead of simply on the problems facing Greece. However, she also cautioned about the recent European turn towards fiscal austerity, warning, “we cannot cut our way out of the crisis.” Instead, she said, we need to find ways to reinvest, create jobs, and tap into the human and natural resources that Greece is teeming with.
Mr. Jay Collins, on the other hand, described Citi’s longstanding involvement and commitment to the Greek marketplace, sharing his views on the European sovereign debt crisis and the global economy.
Minister Evangelos Venizelos delivered his Keynote Address via webcast as he had to remain in Greece for the Parliament vote on the 2012 Budget, which was concluded the day before the Forum. In his speech, he outlined the objectives of the new three-party government in the context of the European sovereign debt crisis, duly noting how Greece would reach a primary surplus of 1.1% of GDP in 2012 from its fiscal deficit of 15.7% of Greek GDP in 2009. “This achievement is even greater considering that we did it within the prevailing context of a five-year recession, which is in total higher than 15% of GDP and also in a period of increasing cost of our public debt service.” He underlined that reform, besides fiscal adjustment, was necessary, calling for structural reforms such as a decade-long national reconstruction project, which would entail the privatization of public enterprises, agencies, and real estate within a stabilized legal and tax environment while being buttressed by the “investment wave from overseas.” He also emphasized the need to strengthen and capitalize on Greek relations throughout the Euro area and the United States: “We really want a growth oriented and investment friendly Greece. We want a smart Greece—a Greece that provides fast and simple solutions. And we want a Greece that is ready to welcome the forces of diaspora and the forces of Greek shipping, the two major pillars of the Greek nation of which we are proud.
”The Forum’s target audience included U.S. institutional investors who invest in Greek equity and fixed-income securities, such as analysts, portfolio managers, financial advisors, commercial and investment bankers, financiers and corporations that do business with Greece, as well as financial media.
This year’s attendees were indicative of the active and continuing interest in Greece. The forum, among others, attracted senior executives from Paulson & Co., Citi, Citigroup, Oppenheimer, Edward Jones Investments, Calamos Investments, Neuberger Berman, JP Morgan, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, HSBC, Wells Fargo Advisors, Polar Securities, Nataxis Bleichroeder LLC, Superior Investments, TK Investments, Omnivest Group, Litespeed Management, LLC, ICON Investments, FBR Capital Markets, Green Capital Investment Bank, U.S. Financial Investments, Inc., Riverside Credit Investments Corp. and many more.
In the pursuit of providing attendees with exceptional networking opportunities, there were also a series of one-on-one meetings organized in cooperation with Axia Ventures Group and Citi.
In line with tradition, Capital Link enables organizations to contribute to the forum’s enduring success. This year’s Supporting Organizations were the Hellenic American Chamber of Commerce in New York, the Trade Office of the Consulate General of Greece, the European American Chamber of Commerce - New York, the European-American Business Organization Inc., the Hellenic American Bankers Association, the Hellenic American Business Network, the American Hellenic Institute, the Hellenic American Lawyers Association and Leadership 100.