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As Greece Reaches Debt Deal, Hines Dips Toe In Water

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As Greece Reaches Debt Deal, Hines Dips Toe In Water
Ledra Hotel, Athens

Paul Gomopoulos has been waiting a long time for this moment.

Global investment and development giant Hines moved him to Athens in July 2014 to open its first Greek office and look for bargains in the distressed country.

After three years, Hines announced Thursday that its first deal was done, in spite of a fresh bout of worries earlier in June over whether Greece will default on its debts again.

The company has teamed up with European private equity firm Henderson Park to buy the Ledra Marriott in Athens for €33M. The partnership will renovate the 315-room, eight-story hotel and it will be operated under a new brand.

"It was a roller coaster, but I knew we'd get there in the end," Gomopoulos said about entering the Greek market. "Hines has gone into some pretty exotic places and we had the right approach and focus."

"Three years is a long time, but a lot of that was related to the macro environment. In those three years we had two elections, a referendum, closed banks and capital controls. We needed to keep our calm, be patient and ride out the storm. The macro situation feels very different on the ground to in 2015."

When Gomopoulos was appointed, Hines mentioned its investment programme could be €500M, and while he declined to comment on how much money Hines will put to work, he said the amount is "significant". 

"We've proved our commitment with how patient we've been, and from this point on our commitment is only going to grow stronger."

Gomopolous said Hines will look at all sectors, but "hotels is an easy one to understand, and the market is not tied to the domestic Greek economy but the tourist economy, which continues to improve."

Greek investment has been moribund in recent years, but the hotel sector has attracted some global investors with cheap prices and good weather. U.S. companies Oaktree Capital and Colony Northstar have both invested there in recent years.