New York.-( GreekNewsOnline)
One of the reasons for the success of the “Capital Link Invest in Cyprus Forum” that took place on March 22, at the Metropolitan Club in New York City, was the participation of investors that have already invested in the island’s economy and shared their successful experiences. Some of them where successful Cypriot – American businessmen, who shared their experience during a panel discussion entitled “Why Cyprus – The Cypriot American Investor Perspective”. Nicolas Nicolaou, CFO of Mana Products, Inc. and President, Cyprus – US Chamber of Commerce was the moderator. Sitting at the panel were:
- Mr. Nikos Mouyiaris, Founder & CEO – Mana Products Inc.
- Mr. John Televantos, Partner – Arsenal Capital
- Mr. Andreas Kramvis, Operating Partner – AEA Investors
- Mr. Constantine Iordanou, Chairman of the Board – Arch Capital Group Ltd.
In his introductory remarks, Nicolas Nicolaou said Cyprus is on its road to recovery from a very sizable financial crisis.
“The recovery is the result of a coordinated effort by the government to implement the necessary reforms required. Today Cyprus offers a very attractive proposition for international companies to set up their regional headquarters in Cyprus and leverage its geographical position, friendly corporate legal framework and highly educated talent pool.”
Nikos Mouyiaris called Cyprus the perfect place for investment.
“Highly educated with high technical skills, the people of Cyprus can help foreign corporations thrive in that part of the world as well as Europe . With some other Cypriots we invested millions of dollars in biotechnology and other companies. People that like to invest they can do it individually or they can join our group for investments there. My company hired 4 brilliant young Cypriots’ to work there for our IT team. We also would like to bring here few interns in Cosmetic Chemistry, industrial, mechanical and few others so we can train” .
John Televantos stressed that in Cyprus there some companies with great potential that need finance and business to grow.
«As a Cypriot American investor, my hope is to find businesses in Cyprus that need both capital and experienced business advice to help them grow or globalize. There appears to be a number of developing businesses in Cyprus run by very competent entrepreneurs and business leaders that are constrained to grow or grow globally given the size of the Cyprus market. But some of the capabilities of these companies are world class in certain niches and deserve our support both financial and otherwise to help them grow».
Andreas Kramvis has concentrated in investing in high technology companies in Cyprus and shared his experiences during the meeting. He covered availability of world leading scientists/engineers, technical developments, infra-structure and market access.
Dinos Iordanou detailed the case for establishing Financial service support and back office facilities in Cyprus:
- Cyprus is talent rich with a great number of college graduates having degrees in accounting, mathematics, actuarial science and engineering
- As a member state of the EU and local laws based on British law, the Island provides a stable legal environment
III. Thriving democracy with democratic elections provides a stable government
- Work ethic of population is very high and very adaptable to world standards
- Labor cost is very attractive as compared to the US or mainland Europe and is competitive with other Asian and Eastern European base outsourcing alternatives
Kyri Loupis, Managing Director, Head of Energy and Infrastructure Team and Portfolio Manager, Goldman Sachs Asset Management was the moderator of a panel of top investors who shared their positive experience from investing in Cyprus. The panelists were:
- Mr. David Bonanno, Managing Director – Third Point
- Mr. Matthew Bonanno, Partner & Co-Head of North American Credit – York Capital
- Mr. Stephen Johnson, Managing Director – Invesco Private Capital / WL Ross & Co.
- Ms. Natasa Pilides, Director General – Cyprus Investment Promotion Agency (CIPA)
- Mr. Adam Steinberg, Senior Vice President – Spectrum Gaming Capital; Advisor – Hard Rock
Mr. Kyri Loupis in his opening remarks he spoke about the increasing number of foreign investment in Cyprus, both private and public as well as greenfield projects, spanning sectors like financial services, real estate and hospitality. He commented that the panel represented both the quality as well as diversity of foreign investors in Cyprus, including some of the leading US hedge funds, private equity firms and development companies.
Mr. David Bonanno talked about the Cypriot economic recovery, attractive sectors and investment options and opportunities in real estate and natural gas. He also discussed all the progress made by Hellenic bank and other banks on the island addressing their NPLs and stabilizing liquidity. “Areas of interest are real estate, tourism, infrastructure development projects such as the ports and casino.”
Mr. Matthew Bonanno said:
“- York has been one of largest investors in the Hellenic region over the last 5 years.
– Our investments have covered government bonds in Greece and Cyprus, investments in financial institutions, as well as infrastructure and real estate ventures
– Our most recent investment in Cyprus was in the rehabilitation of Aphrodite Hills, a resort and villa development venture in Paphos, Cyprus
– This was the first NPL transaction in Cyprus
– we restructured the business with a view to create Long term value which not only maximised recoveries for existing stakeholders, but also invested capital to refurbish the resort and expand the resort
– We are currently looking at several new opportunities including providing new capital for Real Estate projects in Limassol. Advanced discussions on a project that we cannot discuss in more detail today due to confidentiality reasons
– We have spent a lot of time with Adam Steinberg and the principals of the new casino project as well, which we hope will be very successful and will further boost cyprus’s tourism and growth prospects”.
Mr. Stephen Johnson mentioned:
“At WL Ross, we led the majority of the international investors in contributing €1 billion of common equity to Bank of Cyprus in October 2014. The Greek debt write-off and subsequent bail-in were very difficult things for Cypriots, and were unprecedented in the Eurozone. But behind this exogenous shock we saw a people and an economy with meaningful resilience. Since our investment, Cyprus has continually outperformed on economic targets and has regained access to the markets. Going forward, with its well-designed legal system, there is a strong footing to help support businesses, to drive innovation and thus spur foreign direct investment.”
Ms. Natasa Pilides: “As the first point of contact and main facilitator of current and potential investors, Invest Cyprus understands the investor’s perspective”. Ms. Pilides provided some insights on the reasons why some of our clients have chosen to set up or expand their activities in Cyprus, as well as some of the initiatives and planned reforms which are expected to further improve the investment and business environment.
Mr. Adam Steinberg: “We represent the consortium developing the casino project in Cyprus. From our perspective, Cyprus is a great location for a casino with substantial travel infrastructure, including two international airports, nonstop flights to over 90 cities (combined population of 230 million people) and a modern highway system. Cyprus is a well-known travel destination with over 3 million tourists in 2016, up 20% from 2015. Other attributes of Cyprus that makes this an attractive development project include the lowest corporate tax rate in the EU and the economic rebound that allowed the country to exit from financial supervision ahead of schedule”.
Ed Cox, Director of Noble Energy, Yaniv Friedman, Deputy CEO of Delek Drilling & Avner Oil Exploration, Jay Jackson, Europe/Caspian Exploration Manager of Exxon Mobil and Gianni Di Giovanni, Chairman of Eni Petroleum Co. Inc. were the panelists at the Energy Session.
Ed Cox: “Large discoveries of hydrocarbons in the Eastern Mediterranean are already having a geopolitical impact, and when developed, can be a major economic driver for the area. Cyprus is well situated to benefit commercially, economically and politically from its geography, the territorial presence of hydrocarbons and its business and ethnic cultures assuming wise political leadership and diplomatic engagement. Successful development of offshore hydrocarbons requires long term planning and commitments of expertise and capital and is difficult enough in stable political environments. The fact that the Eastern Mediterranean is a “tough neighborhood” with governance of relevant territories in extreme flux is an over arching factor which can determine the success or failure of the opportunity for the neighborhood lying under its seas”.
Yaniv Friedman: “We at Delek Drilling and Avner consider ourselves fortunate to be at the forefront of the East Med Energy story being a major partner in all of the large offshore discoveries in recent years, Tamar, Leviathan and Aphrodite that have unlocked a new, exciting underexplored basin that is already changing our region for the better. We are strong believers in regional cooperation and demonstrating it can be achieved. For us, being part of the Aphrodite Project, which is also the largest investment in Cyprus, means that Cyprus is an integral, critical part and has a pivotal role in our strategy and in this regional evolving and growing energy play. ”
Mr. Jay Jackson: · ExxonMobil has successfully marketed fuels and lubricants in Cyprus for over 55 years through our network of Esso-branded service stations, qualified fuels and lubricants resellers, and large customers. · Recent upstream gas discoveries in the Eastern Mediterranean region reflect the promising future potential for hydrocarbons in Cyprus. · ExxonMobil and our partner Qatar Petroleum were selected to negotiate the terms of an Exploration and Production Sharing Contract for offshore Block 10. We bring a highly experienced staff, proprietary technology, and gas commercialization capabilities – including our leading position in the rapidly growing liquefied natural gas (LNG) business – in which we participate through the entire value chain, from offshore production through to marketing. We are confident that our exploration activities, if successful, could bring significant long-term benefits to Cyprus.
- The industry environment for both private sector and government participants remains challenging. Competition for investment resources is more vigorous in this environment.· With sound frameworks in place, governments will be able to attract fiscally and technically capable operators, such as ExxonMobil, to best capture the value of their natural resources.
Mr. Gianni Di Giovanni: “The Mediterranean region continues to play a pivotal role in global context, as the very contemporary factors of geopolitics, migration, development, terrorism, the environment and energy keep what the Romans called Mare Nostrum firmly at the top of the agenda of policy makers, business and academia. Even in this most challenging context, major new huge natural gas discoveries in the Eastern Mediterranean can play a significant role in redefining the Southern shore: from being an immediate source of crisis and alarm, to one which also holds a promise of prosperity for countries of the Southern Mediterranean and for Europe”