Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt stressed once more the importance of Greek-American strategic partnership and U.S. interest in investing in Greece.
U.S. interest in investing in Greece is growing fast and major American companies are ready to move in strategic sectors of Greek economy.
U.S. Ambassador in Greece Geoffrey Pyatt who plays a key role in promoting the Greek-American strategic partnership, in a speech at the 17th Navigator Maritime Forum, held at the “Hellas Liberty” ship, revealed that another investment is about to be concluded soon and involves ONEX, owned by Greek American Panos Xenokostas.
Οnex Technologies Group is a multinational technological and investment Group with presence in Europe and the USA and significant investments in sectors such as Aviation, Nanotechnology, Critical Infrastructure Security and Civil Protection. Its investment activity expands in the USA and in the wider region of the Mediterranean Sea, through the establishment of strategic partnerships.
“In particular, I hope we will be able to celebrate a major U.S. investment in the Syros shipyard in the very near future,” Ambassador Pyatt said, referring to U.S. company ONEX which has expressed an interest in investing at the Syros Neorion shipyard.
“I am glad to see that deal making progress and look forward to celebrating a major U.S. investment there in the coming weeks,” he added.
In his remarks Ambassador Pyatt stressed the important role of Greek shipping in the global economy and the U.S. interest in investment in Greece. Pyatt hailed the role the United States played in helping the Greek shipping community re-conquer the seas over the past 70 years. “The size and scale of the Greek shipping industry today is a tremendous achievement, and provides a bellwether for the global economy,” he said.
Commenting on Prime Minister Tsipras’ recent visit to Chicago and Washington, he said it strengthened Greek-U.S. ties and that “the message Americans heard throughout the visit, at the very highest levels, was that Greece is back, open for business and a pillar of stability in its region.”
Pyatt said this partnership includes enhanced bilateral investment cooperation, including an overall strategy where Greece serves as a regional hub and supplies energy from diverse sources to Europe, spurred by increased U.S. investment in this sector, as well as U.S. investment in Greek shipping, ports, and shipyards.
The ambassador stressed however that privatizations of state-owned assets must be done in an open and transparent way, based on free and fair competition.
“We saw this here already with the privatization of the 14 regional airports, where the winning bidders had a known track record of doing business in Greece and Europe. It was clear where their financing came from and who their shareholders were,” he said, referring to Fraport’s deal to manage and operate the airports.
“An investment and privatization system based on transparency and the rule of law will help build confidence in Greece as an investment destination, and create momentum that can sustain the Greek economic rebound. I am confident that if Greece continues to commit itself to building such an environment, American investors will take a fresh look at Greece,” he said.
The U.S. is also interested in the port of Alexandroupolis, he continued. “The strategic position of this port is on full display right now: elements of the US Army’s 10th Combat Air Brigade are using it as a staging area for Blackhawk helicopters and cargo moving back to the U.S. from Romania- demonstrating, as I discussed with the Mayor of Alexandroupolis this summer, the potential of that port to play a much bigger role in regional infrastructure and connectivity,” he said.
According to sources that spoke to Athens newspaper “Naftemporiki”, the Onex group has come to an agreement with creditor banks and Neorion group to acquire a majority stake in the Syros shipyard for a symbolic fee of one euro. In terms of paying off the shipyard’s arrears to the state – the biggest financial liability burdening the troubled facility – Onex has reportedly requested a 250-month installment plan. The latter, according to information compiled by “N”, has been accepted, in principle.
Onex would assume some 40 million euros in liabilities currently accumulated by the closed unit, while also promising to pump in another 20 million euros in capital investment in order to upgrade and modernize the shipyard.
If multi-party negotiations come to fruition, as workers’ unions are also involved in talks with the potential new owner, then the Syros shipyard could reopen in 2018.
Reports of interest in the had in the recent past reached as far as Russia, China and even Korea, with several Greek ship owners also mentioned at various times. Nevertheless, only Onex submitted a bid for the shipyard, the third largest in the country.
Onex is reportedly interested in utilizing the shipyard to enter the luxury yacht sector, building special purpose vessels and floating docks, as well as coastal and ocean-going platforms. Other areas on the horizon are on support – safety management etc, refits, spare parts management and training.
A business plan submitted by the company lists guaranteed contracts with clients of more than 25 million USD during its first year of managing the shipyard.
Panos T. Xenokostas graduated from the military School of Aeronautical Engineers in Greece and served as an Air Force Officer in key managing posts where he also received specialty trainings. He then retired (holding the rank of Captain), received his Master’s degree in Business Administration and was appointed chief managerial positions while also specialized specializing in high risk investments focusing in new technologies and early stages companies.
He is the founder and head of ONEX Technologies Group, headquartered in New York, while he maintains strategic partnerships with leading institutional investors for the implementation of investments in markets of South East Europe, Middle East and Africa.
Besides an active supporter of the Hellenic-American relations as a member of New York’s Diaspora, he also participates in the Board of Directors of the American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce (Athens), the Hellenic-American Chamber of Commerce (New York) where he has founded the New Technologies Committee, the General Council of the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV), the Leadership 100, the Athens Club and supports the National Center of Scientific Research “Demokritos”. Panos T. Xenokostas has been awarded as one of the 10 Best European Entrepreneurs in the 2013/2014 European Business Awards (EBA). Further, in 2014 the Athens Chamber of Tradesmen awarded him for his “Innovation and Creative Entrepreneurship”.
CAPITAL LINK FORUM
It is important to mention that ONEX, as well as most major U.S. investors in Greece during the past years, have been participants of the Capital Link Forum, organized in New York every December. These investors include Wilbur Ross, York Capital, Libra Group, John Calamos, Paulson, Halikias Family, Rhone Capital, Philip Morris Morris, Eldorado Gold, Merkourios Angeliades etc.
This year’s forum will take place on December 11and as it was stated by its president Nicholas Bornozis, “Capital Link Forum it’s not a Greek Conference but an international conference on Greece, with the participation of major U.S. investors, banks and funds who meet with Greek government official, Greek banks and major corporations”.