Thursday June 07, 2018

LXM RANKED TOP FOR GREEK EQUITIES

In the 2018 Extel Survey the investment community rated LXM Group as the leading firm for Greek Equities Sales. Matthew Mavridoglou, Chief Executive Officer, commented: “We are grateful to all our clients who voted for us, and are thrilled to receive this recognition at a point when attention is again on the economies of Southern Europe, where much of our business is focused.” “The team really deserves this ranking. They are brilliant in their field – real specialist and experts – delivering fantastic results for clients. I’m extremely proud of them and the whole team.” “We continue to see Southern Europe, and Greece in particular, as a growing opportunity for investors and in-depth local insight is vital to navigate that market.” In results published yesterday, LXM outranked the competition for Greek Equity sales. The Group’s Head of Southern Europe, Petros Mylonas, secured first place in the individual rankings, with Kimon Roussos, Head of Sales, Louis Nicolopoulos, Senior Investment Adviser and Christoforos Papanicolaou, Senior Adviser, in 5th, 6th and 11th place respectively. LXM Group’s Southern Europe team offers bespoke analysis on Greek macroeconomic, political and corporate themes across equity and other asset classes. In addition, the Group offers investment banking services across the Greek market, including advice on mergers and acquisitions, disposals, capital raisings and corporate solutions. The team will be available for meetings during the Athens Exchange Greek Investment Forum in New York on 19-20th June.   DOWNLOAD (PDF)
Monday June 04, 2018

LETTER FROM LONDON: CAN GREECE AVOID REPERCUSSIONS FROM RECENT EUROZONE POLITICAL TURMOIL?

After a recent quiet bout in financial markets, the Eurozone looks as if it is heading towards another period of uncertainty. Over the last few days events in Italy and Spain have rattled stock markets. In Italy, the collapse of the Eurosceptic coalition between the Five Star Movement and Lega party resulted in a populist coalition government led by former IMF Fund official Carlo Cottarelli, which was sworn in on Friday. On the same day in Spain, Mariano Rajoy was ousted as Prime Minister after a vote of no confidence triggered by a corruption scandal. Events in Italy, European Union’s third largest economy, have raised concerns both with investors and in Brussels, whilst the Spanish vote seems to have had less impact. The question remains whether this is a mainly an Italian problem, with Italian voters seeking a tougher approach towards Brussels, or one that risks having negative knock-on effects for Greece. Greek officials are closely watching events in Italy, as Greece aims to return to capital markets once its third and last EU-IMF funded bailout officially expires in August. Any prospect of Athens making a clean break and assuming post bailout normality without assistance has been put into question given the recent Italian, and to a lesser extent, Spanish turmoil. Bank of Greece Governor Yiannis Stournaras has long argued that Greece requires a precautionary credit line “as a protective cushion”, as the country endeavours to stand on its feet after the worst financial crisis in modern times. The Syriza-led government, keen for a clean exit, has dispelled any such notion. We view that the Greek government will stick to its current fall-back view that fiscal over-performance, completion of the 4th review, debt relief, a strong cash buffer and post-programme monitoring should be sufficient to ensure that Greece continues on its path to recovery. This article originially appeared on Banks.com.gr
Monday May 28, 2018

LETTER FROM LONDON: EMERGING & FRONTIER MARKETS SALES

Recent dollar strengthening, rising US treasury yields, rising oil prices and the combination of high debt levels (mainly foreign denominated debt) and large current account deficits are clearly impacting Emerging Markets (EM) - with Turkey’s markets suffering the brunt. The continuing freefall of the Turkish lira lately reflects market concerns about the agility and autonomy of its central bank application of prudent financial policy (if not just common sense) given Erdogan’s resistance to high interest rates. Investor confidence has recently dwindled given the threat of politics trespassing into capital markets – probably overtly but certainly covertly. In the wake of further deterioration in sentiment, in a belated response, the Turkish central bank finally raised rates last night in an attempt to arrest the currency’s decline, with the CBRT hiking the late liquidity window lending rate by a whopping 300bps to 16.5%. Notwithstanding recent commentary such as Paul Krugman tweeting about a potential Emerging Market crisis, we are of the view that EM equities could be in for a relief rally as US Dollar strength maybe showing signs of a short-term breather. Although there are indeed individual countries facing significant difficulties (i.e. Brazil, Turkey, Argentina) there does not appear to be a uniform headwind in the sector. LXM therefore agrees with many of our clients, as well as Mark Mobius’ recent comments, that selectivity is key and that there are good opportunities for investment. Such a market – where stock picking based on local insight guides profit - suits us and our clients well. This article originially appeared on Banks.com.gr
Monday May 21, 2018

LETTER FROM LONDON: GREECE: PREPARING FOR A POST-BAILOUT ERA

In a busy week to come, representatives from the ECB, ESM and IMF returned to Athens on Tuesday to resume talks on the 4th MoU review, with the objective of reaching a Staff Level Agreement (SLA) by the 24 May Eurogroup meeting. Initial negotiations at the Euro Working Group meeting on Monday focused on prior actions, debt relief and the requirement for a precautionary credit line post the expiration of the bailout programme. A bone of contention in recent discussions concerns debt relief measures. Germany has appeared to harden its stance recently by insisting on parliamentary approval before granting debt relief. Conversely, IMF representative Poul Thomsen reiterated the IMF view that for the Fund to participate in the programme, Greece’s debt should be considered sustainable, implying generous debt relief. He added that for IMF inclusion in the programme before its expiration in August, debt relief measures must be agreed by the 24 June Eurogroup. In this way Greece continues to suffer on a macro level in a similar way to its domestic maladies: just as the systemic banks need to push harder for debt restructuring measures on SME loans, supranational lenders are similarly disjointed in their approach. Greece’s post-bailout era continues to be characterised by two approaches: either relying on the market to impose fiscal discipline (though premised on a sizeable €20bn cash buffer covering the country’s funding needs until early 2020), and/or the country’s creditors working to maintain some form of conditionality after the bailout. Notwithstanding, recent positive Greek bank stress test results, combined with the expected successful conclusion of the 4th MoU review, should provide adequate conditions for lifting capital controls entirely in the medium term. This should ensure that Greece remains on a path to recovery after August this year. Furthermore, adding conditions to debt relief on strict ex-ante compliance sets a positive tone. Our view is that the market will respond positively to the achievement of a SLA at the 24 May Eurogroup. Debt relief, combined with post-bailout surveillance, expected rating upgrades and further tapping of capital markets will send a strong message that Greece is back from the brink. This article originally appeared on Banks.com.gr
Monday May 14, 2018

LETTER FROM LONDON: GREEK BANKS: POSITIVE, FOR NOW…

Last Saturday the positive stress tests for the banks removed the key short-term risk of a painful equity dilution for shareholders. Such a result is reason for cautious optimism. However we expect the share price recovery to be gradual, highly volatile and non-linear across the systemic banks. Our constructive outlook is underlined by the implementation of long-awaited legislation for the resolution of circa €96 billion of non-performing exposures (NPEs) in the last quarter of 2017. This has rightfully intensified pressure on strategic defaulters, with banks conveying a significant increase in borrowers willing to reach a settlement since its enforcement. Furthermore, Greek banks have recently increased their provisioning levels, post the implementation of the new IFRS 9 accounting standard, to a level that provides more flexibility to pursue a cohesive solution for both their balance sheets and borrowers. Banks in the coming months will continue with the Herculean challenge of reducing NPEs by €33 billion by the end of next year, of which €11.6 billion will be achieved by the sale of loans. The outcome of the tenders for the sale of NPE portfolios in the next few months will be considered a litmus test for similar disposals in the future. The banks are only one corner in the maze that Greece has to negotiate its way out of this year. Exiting the labyrinth will involve the conclusion of the fourth review, debt relief discussions that should intensify in June and July, government bond issuance as the country builds a €19bn buffer and the upcoming exit from the bailout program in August. Cautious optimism is justified; complacency is not. This article originally appeared on Banks.com.gr