One of TT’s key differentiators is the ease with which we can connect new markets to the platform. In fact, we have added more than 10 exchanges to TT over the last 18 months. The most recent addition to our expanding portfolio of market connectivity offerings is the Athens Stock Exchange, or ATHEX, which is the national exchange of Greece. On the heels of announcing the availability of ATHEX Derivatives Market on TT, we invited Michael Andreadis, Chief Markets Operation and Business Development Officer of ATHEX, to tell us more about the exchange and share his perspectives on some of the issues facing that region. We hope you enjoy this conversation with Michael. For more information, please visit the ATHEX website.
Thanks for talking with us today, Michael. Please start by sharing a bit about yourself. What path took you to your current role, and what are your responsibilities at ATHEX?
Michael: Initially I would like to thank you Elise for giving me this opportunity to speak about the Athens Exchange. Also, I would like to thank Trading Technologies for the cooperation, and we are really looking forward to having your clients on board as soon as possible. I joined the exchange at the end of 2019, while I used to work for many years for Investment Bank of Greece (currently Optima Bank) as a CEO and as a deputy CEO. As Chief Markets Operation and Business Development Officer, my role at ATHEX sits across two functions. I oversee the exchange’s listing and trading/market monitoring activities, and I’m responsible for driving usage of and revenue from the exchange’s products and services.
While several of our larger global bank clients are already trading the ATHEX derivatives market, many of our users are unfamiliar with your offerings. So tell us about your product range.
Michael: We have a full range of derivatives products from index futures and options as well as single stock futures and options. Most of the trading activity is very much focused on single stocks futures. Bank stock futures are the most liquid and the most tradeable. Concerning the options area, although there is no heavy trading activity, however, there are several opportunities where arbitrage opportunities exist, and I hope that your clients will have the opportunity to explore them. Moreover, last year we introduced three new indices which reflect the activity of mid-cap, small-cap and high-dividend yield companies that we expect to become benchmarks for new derivatives products.
What’s the current state of the market like in Greece? Are there any trends that are particularly noteworthy or surprising?
Michael: Our market and our economy are coming out from a long-term fiscal and banking crisis, over and above the global pandemic crisis. However, I strongly believe that the economy and our market are very well positioned for the coming years for very specific reasons. First of all, we have a very stable pro-business and pro-growth government. Banks will leave all the NPE issues behind them by the end of 2022 at latest. There is tremendous liquidity across the globe, while the so-called RRF will provide more than 30 billion euros to the country over the next six years. This is the biggest amount relative to the GDP vs. any other European country. So, I am quite optimistic for the coming years.
While the global pandemic has impacted everyone around the globe, the repercussions haven’t been uniform. What’s been the general effect of COVID-19 on life in Greece, and what have been the specific impacts on your business?
Michael: Concerning our business, I would say there was no effect as far as the continuity of our business. From the very first day of the initial lockdown, we managed to operate our market absolutely efficiently. Of course there was a serious hit on our issuers’ market capitalization and the trading activity was reduced for many months after the initial spike, but when COVID spread out, volatility and trading activity increased.
Life has changed everywhere, and this the case for Greece as well. We are all looking forward to leaving this behind us. So, we hope for speeding up vaccinations, and we hope we will heavily enjoy the unique Greek summer.
Let’s talk about the future. What new projects are you working on now? Is there anything our customers should be looking for later this year?
Michael: There are many initiatives we are running in various segments of our business. I will mention just a few of them. We are very much inspired by the ESG mega trend which is underway, and we plan to launch a new ESG Index by the autumn of this year. Next week we are having a webinar along with GFCC about our incubator program called ROOTS, while at the same time we are organizing an “Energy Week” dedicated to our energy-related issuers. Also, we are planning to launch some new index futures in the next couple of months, while we, along with our ecosystem, put a lot of effort into revitalizing the IPO space and increasing corporate fixed income issuance so that our market plays a crucial role in the growth of the Greek corporates and the development of the economy as a whole.