Greek in­dus­try con­tin­ues its dra­matic con­trac­tion

Kathimerini English - - Focus - BY ANESTIS DOKAS

The sad saga of Greek in­dus­trial shut­downs has con­tin­ued this sum­mer with the com­pul­sory sale of the flag­ship A.G. Pet­ze­takis plant and the failed ten­der of Hel­lenic Steel in Thes­sa­loniki by its Ital­ian owner.

On July 19 Na­tional Bank auc­tioned the cen­tral unit of Pet­ze­takis at Thiva, cen­tral Greece, at the sug­gested re­serve bid of 15 mil­lion eu­ros. The fac­tory which pro­duced plas­tic tub­ing was con­fis­cated due to debts to­tal­ing 1 mil­lion eu­ros, while the prop­erty was also used as col­lat­eral for 14 loans.

The be­gin­ning of the end for Pet­ze­takis came in late 2010, when its fi­nan­cial prob­lems spi­raled out of con­trol, although just a few years ear­lier it had been one of Greece’s few multi­na­tion­als, while back in the 1960s The Fi­nan­cial Times had dubbed Aris­tovou­los Pet­ze­takis a “top-class in­ven­tor.”

Mean­while, the Hel­lenic Steel ten­der failed to pro­duce a re­sult since the can­di­date buyer re­fused to ac­cept the terms for the im­ple­men­ta­tion of en­vi­ron­men­tal projects as ap­proved by the En­vi­ron­ment Min­istry, which would have cost the in­vestor close to an ex­tra 5 mil­lion eu­ros. Notably, Hel­lenic Steel used to em­ploy be­tween 280 and 300 peo­ple.

The coun­try’s rapid dein­dus­tri­al­iza­tion led to the clo­sure of more than 20 pro­duc­tion units in the pe­riod from 2012 to 2017. A num­ber of in­dus­trial com­pa­nies now carry out the or­ders they re­ceive from for­eign firms at their plants out­side Greece, es­pe­cially in coun­tries with low en­ergy costs.

Among the other one-time giants forced to close dur­ing the re­ces­sion was Tsi­menta Halki­das, the ce­ment com­pany that ground to a halt in early 2013: Owner AGET Irak­lis was forced to cease op­er­a­tions af­ter 87 years due to the dra­matic drop in con­struc­tion in the At­tica re­gion, amount­ing to 80 per­cent.

The Ge­or­giadis to­bacco com­pany also burnt out af­ter fail­ing to tackle its fi­nan­cial prob­lems and sur­vive the com­pe­ti­tion from the multi­na­tion­als, even though it used to pro­duce sev­eral brands owned by Roth­mans.

Con­struc­tion ma­te­ri­als pro­ducer Philk­eram John­son has also been his­tory since late 2011, af­ter half a cen­tury of op­er­a­tions, while the shut­down of Thrace Pa­per Mills came as quite a shock too. Other ca­su­al­ties of the re­ces­sion have been the Nu­tri­art bak­ery firm (for­merly Kat­selis Sons), the Pep­sico-Ivi plant at Loutraki and AGNO Dairy.

The Hel­lenic Steel plant in Thes­sa­loniki.

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