Focus on southern Europe – Sciens sees distressed opportunities in Greece
At a time when most other asset managers are avoiding Greek equities like the plague, Sciens Capital Limited is seeking to profit from the distressed valuations and high volatility of the local market – and it has attracted interest, and capital, from family offices and instiutions.
Several months ago Sciens launched a Greek program on its London based managed accounts platform. The fund’s strategy is to identify companies that are hugely undervalued simply due to the fact that they are based in Greece.
Although the current economic situation means it is keeping its powder dry, a first investment by the fund is imminent, according to the manager.
He seeks out firms with good solid management in which it can take minority positions. Most of them are mid to small capitalization companies with low debt where most of their income is based on strong exports.
Chief executive officer Stavros Siokos (pictured) said Greek equities offered “a unique story with very good potential. Values are hugely distressed. In some cases companies are distressed just because they happen to be in Greece, despite the fact that they are of an exporting nature and with very limited debt. We believe that for such companies the pay-off can be significant.”
Despite low investment appetite across the globe, the fund has enjoyed some interest from investors. Existing commitments amount to €40-50m, and Siokos expects the fund to grow fivefold within the next 12 months.
The strategy is high risk, but it has attracted early stage allocators with a commensurately high risk appetite, such as family offices and other institutional investors.