Recovery Fund-backed infrastructure projects also in pipeline
5G proceeds to finance start-ups, tech companies via new fund
Greece’s state-controlled companies want to use European recovery funds to boost infrastructure, green energy and technology as Athens seeks to modernize the country’s economy.
The Hellenic Corporation of Assets and Participations has drawn up “an initial list of projects that could be eligible for funding under the European Union’s Recovery and Resilience Fund,” Chief Executive Officer Ourania Ekaterinari said in an interview. The total value of investments could reach 650 million euros ($786 million), she said.
Greece is in need of investments to offset the crippling impact of a debt crisis followed by the pandemic. The country lost a quarter of output amid the recession and austerity measures of the past decade, while the economy is due to contract 10.5% this year.
The HCAP is earmarking cash from the Recovery and Resilience Fund for “projects ranging from installing smart meters and grids to new water networks to new buses, electrical and environmentally friendly cars and renewable energy sources,” Ekaterinari said. Greece as a whole is due to receive a total of 32 billion euros from EU pandemic-related funds.
“We don’t want Greek state-owned enterprises to lag behind compared to other public companies in Europe,” Ekaterinari said, adding that counterparts in other countries will “also use European funds for the same purposes.”
The government set up the HCAP in 2016 to manage state assets including stakes in public companies and real estate. The fund in turn owns the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund, the Public Properties Company and the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund, which runs Greece’s privatization program.
All of Greece’s biggest public companies, including Public Power Corp SA,water companies in Athens and Thessaloniki and public transportation operators, are HCAP subsidiaries.
The HCAP is also launching its Faistos fund to finance start-ups and tech companies to work via the 5G spectrum in Greece and abroad.
“5G will help us modernize electricity and water networks, as well as public transportation, health and other vital services,” Ekaterinari said. The fund is expected to be up and running in the first half of 2021.
The government is targeting 360 million euros from spectrum auctions, of which 25% will be directed to the Faistos fund.
Tenders for 5G licenses are set to conclude by the end of the year, and the country’s three main mobile operators — Cosmote Mobile Telecommunications SA, Vodafone Group PLC’s Greek unit and Wind Tre SpA — have applied.