A major Greek construction firm, J&P Avax has participated in almost all of the country’s big public works projects over the last two decades. Now, company Managing Director Konstantinos Mitzalis reveals what the company expects from the sector in post-crisis Greece.
How did you manage in the financial crisis, and get out of it?
The financial crisis limited the progress of projects. Yet, after multiple negotiations with the government, we managed to reach a solution to once again fund them. We had to sit down and figure out a new financing structure and a new timetable. We still needed the European Union’s confirmation that our agreement was valid, in terms of financing and scheduling. But we succeeded in the end after a very tough period.
Is your company preparing for any major future projects now?
With the exception of a few big private-led investments there won’t be many projects coming up in Greece. About 10 years ago, we realized that the number of public projects was shrinking, and that we would have to focus on projects outside of Greece. However, there is huge worldwide competition in the construction sector. The Middle East once offered great investment opportunities; however, all the companies are there now. So we are looking elsewhere – one example is our new power plant project in Iraq.
Is the private sector capable of funding government’s light-infrastructure investment projects within the PPP framework that matches private sector and EU funds?
There is a lack of funding, which is why the EIB has to compensate. But we first have to find viable projects first. We have 25 years’ experience in PPP, starting with the Attiki Odos project in 1996. Excepting the airport, in fact, we have participated in all major Greek public projects. So we do have the personnel, the team and the necessary materials to follow these projects. The question is whether they will come our way.
Is now a good time for investors to come to Greece?
Greece is getting out of the crisis. The financial circumstances will improve, and investors can expect greater margins. Although we still have much work to do, Greece has done all the reforms, and is now more investor friendly than before.