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Dramatic Rise of Foreign Investments in Greece

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View of the Ellinikon casino project, representing the largest investment in Greece. Credit: Lamda Development

Greece marked an impressive increase of 74.3 percent in foreign direct investment (FDI) in 2021, according to the Hellenic Investment and Foreign Trade Company, also known as Enterprise Greece.

Enterprise Greece recently released data issued by the Bank of Greece showing that net inflows of foreign direct investment exceeded 5 billion euros ($5,055.9 million).

Compared to 2.9 billion euros in 2020, last year saw the largest net foreign direct investment inflow in Greece since 2002.

The record levels of FDI confirm that the Greek economy is on an upward trend, the result of the successful effort made in recent years to attract foreign investment in Greece.

The increase represents a jump of 13 percent compared to the pre-COVID year of 2019 — which in itself was also a record year — with over 4.47 billion euros in FDI.

Enterprise Greece

Enterprise Greece is the official investment and trade promotion agency of the Greek State, operating under the auspices of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The agency had a decisive role in attracting foreign investments in the country, despite the adverse conditions caused by the pandemic.

Enterprise Greece organized targeted events to promote the country’s investment opportunities, such as online business meetings, business missions, speeches in international fora, and more.

“The image of Greece as an investment destination has changed dramatically and is now among the most attractive investment destinations in Europe,” the agency’s CEO, George Filiopoulos, told the Athens-Macedonian News Agency.

“As Enterprise Greece we monitor international trends on an annual basis, but also keep an eye on domestic developments, and based on these we formulate our strategy in attracting new, productive investments,” he said.

The 10 largest foreign investments in Greece

In the past two years, giant foreign companies have trusted Greece as an opportunity for investment, especially in IT and green entrepreneurship.

While the COVID pandemic put the brakes on foreign investment and overall market activity in 2020, by 2021 the influx of foreign investments was impressive.

Well-known names from Europe, the United States and Australia have seen Greece as fertile ground for investment.

1. Microsoft is to invest 1 billion euros in data-centers in Greece. It has started a pilot project in Olympia in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture, with the aim to digitally revive Ancient Olympia.

More importantly, the software giant plans to establish a state-of-the-art data center in Greece, a critical infrastructure that will create many new jobs and generate substantial revenues for the Greek state.

2. Pfizer, the pharmaceutical company that produced the first vaccine against COVID-19 is planning to invest 600 million euros in Greece.

Pfizer’s flagship investment in Thessaloniki is its Digital Innovation Center for research, expected to exceed 600 million euros in profits in a decade, and creating over 700 new jobs.

3. Digital Realty is another company that will turn Greece into a data hub. The company  owns, acquires, develops and operates data centers across the globe.

The investment is expected to reach 300 million euros, another investment that will put Greece at the center of data storage.

4. Amazon Web services is coming to Greece as well with a planned investment of 150-200 million euros.

Amazon, the colossus of online shopping is expanding, is also extending its Web Services Local Zone infrastructure outside the United States.

5. Elefsina Shipyards is about to be purchased by the Fincantieri and Onex shipbuilding alliance from the Greek Defense Ministry.

The plan envisages the commitment of around 210-230 million euros for past debts, an investor plan of 150-200 million euros over a period of 10 years, the creation of more than 2,000 jobs, and an indirect GDP growth of 0.5 percent for Greece.

6. Boehringer Ingelheim, the German pharmaceutical company, has had a factory in Koropi, Attica since 1975.

In 2020, Boehringer Ingelheim announced further multi-year investments into Koropi, with the aim of transforming the site into a new production hub for its innovative medications. The estimated investment is 100 million euros.

7. Next e.go Mobile, a German manufacturer of electric vehicles and sustainable mobility systems, is to invest in Greece for the production of 30,000 electric cars.

The investment is expected to reach 100 million euros and includes an electric car assembly factory in Greece. Thousands of new jobs will be created, while the industrial unit will be served by a network of local companies.

8. Volkswagen is to invest 30 million euros for the eco-friendly Astypalea project, which will become an island with its own groundbreaking mobility system.

The Greek island’s transport system will transition to electric vehicles and renewable power generation. Vehicle sharing or ridesharing will help reduce and optimize traffic, making Astpalea a model island for climate-neutral mobility.

9. The Cisco Digital Skills Center is a 10-million-euro investment project for the establishment of the International Center for Digital Transformation and Digital Skills in Thessaloniki.

The project officially started operating in July 2020 will focus on digital transformation and its work will be an open hub where innovative technological solutions will be developed and tested.

10. The ambitious Lamda Development investment project at the former airport at Ellinikon will transform Greece’s Riviera.

Though only 20 percent of the total shares of Lamda Development belong to foreign investors, given the scope of the project it makes the list of foreign investment.

The company is to invest 8 billion euros — the largest private investment ever to be made  in Greece — for a seaside metropolitan park.

The 2,000,000 square meter (21,527,820 square foot) area will include residential communities, hotels, shopping centers, a casino, family entertainment venues, museums, and other cultural venues, health and wellness centers, sports and recreation facilities, and will be an R & D hub.

In addition, there will be a total regeneration of the existing marina and the entire shoreline that will, along with the Park, will be the major attractions of the site.

Construction will generate 10,000 new jobs and 75,000 job openings after completion. It is estimated that after completion, the project will contribute up to 2.4 percent to the Greek GDP.


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