February 13, 2019 / 3:29 PM / 10 months ago

Foreign investors keep upper hand in Greek stocks in tough 2018

A man stands under a stock ticker showing stock options inside the Athens stock exchange building in Athens, Greece, August 20, 2018. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis

ATHENS (Reuters) - Foreign investors accounted for more than half of total trading activity on Greece’s stock market last year, executives at stock and futures operator Hellenic Exchanges said on Wednesday.

Greek equities fell 23.6 percent in 2018, a tough year in which banks took a beating. But mid-cap shares bucked the downtrend for a second straight year.

“It was the year of mid-caps,” Socrates Lazaridis, CEO at Hellenic Exchanges told reporters. “But for the first time, the market capitalization of banks fell below 10 percent of the stock market’s total capitalization.”

Greece’s five listed banks have struggled to shrink their mountains of bad loans and return to sustained profitability.

Foreign investors held 22.3 billion euros ($25.2 billion) of Greek stocks or 63.3 percent of total market capitalization, which fell to 45 billion euros at the end of 2018 from 54.1 billion in 2017.

Foreign funds accounted for 56 percent of total trading activity last year, or 7.8 billion euros, executives said.

Fund raising on the Greek bourse totaled just 450 million euros via four new corporate bond issues and only one new listing.

Hellenic Exchanges, which is 60 percent owned by foreign funds, is preparing infrastructure for a new electricity exchange which authorities plan to launch later this year, executives said.

Reporting by George Georgiopoulos

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