Ladies and gentlemen,
Good morning. It is a privilege for me to address the annual Athens Exchange conference in New York today, among so many distinguished speakers. And it is of upmost importance for me, personally, because this event coincides with the completion of six months of my tenure as the HCMC ‘s chairman. At the same time, it takes place just a few days after the Greek Government concluded an agreement with the Institutions for the completion of the country’s first program review which paved the way for the Eurogroup’s green light for the disbursement of the 7.5 bn EUR loan trance to Greece. Eurozone officials concluded that Greece has fulfilled all the relevant prior actions. This development should result, in my opinion, in boosting market confidence and strengthening the Greek economy.
Our distinguished economists have already thoroughly presented the prospects of the Greek national economy that stem from that agreement. So, allow me to provide you with a few data regarding the current situation in the Athens Exchange.
In May ’16 the total ATHEX capitalization closed up at ca. €40 billion, posting an increase of ca. 12% since the previous month. Participation of foreign investors in the total market capitalization reached ca. 64%. Total transaction volume surpassed €2 billion. Foreign investors in May 2016 accounted for a little less than 60% of total turnover.
In the above environment, the role of HCMC is crucial for enhancing market sentiment. Safe markets are an essential element for both ESMA, at the EU level, and HCMC at the local front, relating both to the investor protection and the proper functioning of the capital markets. In order to achieve these goals, it is of upmost importance to promote market efficiency by “supporting” new investment products in order to optimize funding, as a viable alternative to banking lending.
In this framework the HCMC, along with ESMA, consistently implements EU regulations and common supervisory practices. The HCMC actively participates in the Capital Markets Union Action Plan, which aims to build a single capital market, emphasizing on small and medium-sized enterprises and the flow of funds towards investment projects.
More specifically, among the topics that we are currently dealing with, I would prioritize the revision of MiFID and its implementation measures since this is the apex of the regulatory framework in regard to investment firms on the trading side. I would also emphasize the drastic amendments to the Prospectus regulation which aim to enhance the cross boarder activity in fund raising throughout Europe and at the same time to create a level playing field among issuers. Moreover, I would mention the implementation of the Central Securities Depositories regulation on the post-trading side. Last but by no means least, we are less than two weeks away from the pan-European activation of the new Directive and Regulation on Market Abuse, which aims to enhance market integrity.
Let me also mention that: The discussion of capital markets and the funding of the real economy is currently the talk of the town in Europe. Even more so in Greece, where the banking sector, struggling with strict stability-prudential measures, is in difficult territory trying to meet the needs of the country for new investments and job creation. Naturally, the argument that the capital market can become a significant source of lower-cost funding is vital.
At the HCMC we are strong supporters of this idea. We deem that the greatest problem for businesses in Greece is scarce liquidity and the lack of a single rule book for the introduction of alternative financing tools. Thus, we aim at supplementing our supervisory work by preparing and forwarding, to the competent ministries, the necessary legislative proposals that will help Greek enterprises gain easier access to capital.
At the same time, we concentrate on a rising participation of retail investors through the creation of a more “user-friendly” regulation on bond-issuance, as well as the introduction of new products, like crowdfunding and the broadening of venture capital, in order to address the needs of retail investors. Needless to say, all the above measures will be introduced only after we ensure the strongest investor protection.
In any case, we believe it is possible that growth of the Hellenic capital markets would work as a means of achieving a better funding-balance for the real economy.
I would like to assure you that we will continue to work until we make sure that we achieve our goals.
Thank you for your attention.