EBRD invests in bonds of Greek retailer Housemarket S.A.

By Axel  Reiserer

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Strong interest in offering by holder of IKEA franchise signals growing confidence

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has successfully participated in a bond issue by the Greek retailer Housemarket S.A. with an investment of €5.9 million, equal to 15 per cent of the total €40 million offering. An oversubscription of 25 per cent indicated investors’ returning confidence in the local capital market.

Housemarket is a Greek retailer as well as the holder of the IKEA franchise in Greece, Bulgaria and Cyprus. It is a fully owned subsidiary of Fourlis Holding, established by the family of the same name and one of the leading groups of companies in Greece and the Balkans.

The bond issued by Housemarket was the first local, non-convertible corporate bond to be listed on the regulated market of the Athens Stock Exchange. Together with the bond issue the Athens Stock Exchange launched the use of an electronic orders book to enable a transparent, secure and efficient bidding process.

Frederic Lucenet, EBRD Director, Manufacturing and Services, said: “This is a milestone in developing and boosting Greece’s capital market. The EBRD is delighted to have been able to support this issue as it provides a much-needed signal to the market that confidence is returning to the Greek market. We have already participated in the last 12 months in Eurobonds issued by Greek companies in the manufacturing and telecommunications sectors. We stand ready to continue to further support capital markets development in Greece as an alternative source to bank financing.”

Vassilis Fourlis, Executive Chairman of Fourlis Group, added: “Housemarket S.A. and Fourlis Group are committed to continue offering innovative and affordable home furnishing solutions to the many people in the Greek market. We aim to contribute to the efforts of Greece’s economic recovery by investing adequately, employing fairly and utilising world class corporate governance practices. The recent successful bond issue, supported by the EBRD and many other institutional and retail investors, makes our responsibility even greater.”

Sokratis Lazaridis, CEO of Athens Stock Exchange, commented: “The Athens Stock Exchange welcomes the successful bond issue and we see this as a welcome sign of investors’ growing confidence in Greece. In this context it is particularly important to progress with the development of the Greek capital market to facilitate investments in an efficient and effective way. The EBRD has quickly assumed a pioneering role in these activities and we look forward to deepening and intensifying our cooperation. Fully functioning capital markets are essential to mobilise funds, which in turn are needed to finance the growth of companies. The Athens Stock Exchange stands ready to provide its services for the benefit of the Greek economy together with strong partners like the EBRD.”

The EBRD started investing in Greece on a temporary basis in 2015 to support the country’s economic recovery. The Bank’s priorities are the strengthening of private companies and the financial sector, support for privatisation, infrastructure development and regional integration of the Greek economy. Since the beginning of its operations, the Bank has invested over €600 million in 11 projects in the country.

The EBRD’s strategic plan for the period 2016-18 has three priorities: strengthening economic resilience, addressing global challenges and supporting regional integration.

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