With the May 2014 European and local elections looming, the conservative-led coalition government has already embarked on the process of making political capital out of the first primary budget surplus recorded in a generation. Predicting a figure of around €2.5 billion, more than three times the government’s original estimate of €800 million, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has stated: ‘We must help those most affected by the crisis, in order to give them a second chance. Our goal is to exit the crisis without leaving anyone behind.’ To this end, he has vowed to return 70% of the surplus to the people hit hardest by the austerity measures. This will go some way to addressing the problems of low-earners, and includes a €500 bonus to pensioners and members of the police and security services, who along with the majority of public sector employees have borne the brunt of drastic cuts over the past four years. By the end of April, more than a quarter of a million people had already applied for these ‘social dividends’. The opposition, led by the radical-left Syriza party, immediately went on the attack, arguing that the idea of a primary surplus was the invention of a government that had not only drastically cut spending but failed to include in their calculations factors such as debts to state suppliers, which it had neglected in favour of a transparent attempt to buy votes from the casualties of austerity. Syriza argued that any budget surplus had been achieved only with the creation of a surplus of the unemployed and poverty-stricken. Meanwhile, the German Chancellor Angela Merkel still insists that in return for Germany’s backing, Greek austerity measures should continue. Syriza issued a statement declaring that Greece clearly still had a long way to go before coming out of austerity, and that a new Memorandum of Understanding between Greece and the Troika would only lead to further cuts and job losses in the public sector, despite the country preparing a bond issue to raise money on the markets for the first time since the international bailout began. The statement concluded: ‘The celebrations about the primary, pre-election surplus… cannot hide the future that Mr Samaras and Mrs Merkel have in store for the Greek people.’
Mergers and acquisitions are one way that companies looking to expand internationally can break into overseas markets. Greece welcomes investment from overseas companies and has lawyers ready to help and advise interested parties on how to carry out a merger or acquisition in this country. Benefits of mergers As a business expansion technique, mergers and acquisitions (M&A) can offer companies a number of advantages:
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- The company acquires or joins with an existing business that already has its own skilled and experienced staff and therefore boosts the acquiring company’s knowledge base.
- It increases the acquiring company’s customer base and provides easy access to a new market.
- The new company may have new technologies or patented products that the acquiring company might not be able to access other than through a merger or acquisition.
- The target company often conducts the same type of business as the acquiring company, and so the acquisition or merger can help to reduce competition and increase the company’s market share.
- What to do with existing staff of the acquired company? There may be a duplication of roles as a result of the merger or acquisition and as a result some staff may become surplus to requirements. However there are European laws, such as the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Directive, that govern how staff in this situation must be treated.
- Failure to fully understand and comply with the different rules governing business operations in a foreign country.
- Failure to fully research the economic viability of the target company, including all its assets and liabilities.
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