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Greece stands at a crossroad in its history

The Greek economic crisis and the inherent weakness of our country, is a result of reckless behavior mostly on the part of the governments, especially on the fiscal front, but also the very strong tendency to consume, and a very weak propensity to produce

By: EBR - Posted: Wednesday, January 03, 2018

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Our eyes now turn to our country: Greece needs to overcome its problems and create a safe, stable and prosperous future for the generations to come. Therefore, we must decide to become owners of our fate and to master our own future, leaving bad practices behind for good.
Our eyes now turn to our country: Greece needs to overcome its problems and create a safe, stable and prosperous future for the generations to come. Therefore, we must decide to become owners of our fate and to master our own future, leaving bad practices behind for good.

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by Evangelos G. Mytilineos*

The political aversion to reforms in a very conservative country, coupled with very strict terms attached on the ongoing rescue programs by our lenders/partners, has brought the nation to this dive condition.

For Greek companies, almost 10 years now, the name of the game has been one: survival. Many did survive, more didn’t. It has been an economic and financial disaster of tremendous proportions for peacetime. The American Great Depression pales in comparison.

Few of us made it, one of them is Mytilineos. Not only did Mytilineos survive, but re-organized deeply, increased market share, improved competitiveness and gave joy to shareholders and stakeholders by drastically improving its balance sheet and share price, avoiding at the same time mass lay-offs. In actual fact, not a single employee lost his/her job. On the contrary, a lot of the Greek unemployed found a job in the factories and construction sites of the Group in Greece and abroad.

How was that made possible:

1) We saw the 2008 global crisis early enough: 2006-7 we sold forward half a million tons of our Aluminium production for delivery in 2009-10-11 at high prices.

2) Days before Lehman crisis shocked the global financial system, we raised in the markets €465 Mio priced for 5 years at 0.8%. International capital markets for Greece and Greek companies shut immediately afterwards.

3) All our sales departments timely diverted their efforts to foreign markets, before local demand collapsed at levels not seen in the early 60s.

4) Finally, the most aggressive cost cutting ever undertaken by a Greek Group took place between 2008-2013 with great success. All (literally all) costs had to pass through the needle - hole again and again. More than one billion Euros were invested across the total spectrum of our activities, to improve productivity and bring down costs.

In late 2015, the sun started to shine, it was only a pale sun at first. In 2016 it became brighter…

Then late in 2016, we took the bold decision, strongly backed by our shareholders, to merge all subsidiaries into the holding and create a strong new entity that is now valued €1,3 bn, 4 times higher than the valuation of the Greek recession time.

We are all very happy and proud for what we achieved, for our people and their families and the wider society.

Our eyes now turn to our country: Greece needs to overcome its problems and create a safe, stable and prosperous future for the generations to come. Therefore, we must decide to become owners of our fate and to master our own future, leaving bad practices behind for good. 

This could happen with a program that will be directly linked to the debt, by adjusting it into small, quarterly tranches whenever we succeed in implementing concrete, provable reforms. We could also agree with our creditors that whenever we implement the reforms, this could reduce the targets of our primary surplus. 

Greece stands at a crossroad in its history. We are at this critical point, where the crisis could turn into a major opportunity to exceed ourselves, move forward and make our country leading power of South East Europe. 

By leveraging our advantages, our human capital, our geographical position, our potentials in areas such as in heavy industry, tourism, innovation, education, we will become a success story not only as a narrative for political arguments, but for our lives and the future of our children.  

*Chairman and CEO of Mytilineos Group

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