Απόψεις Γιώργος Ψωμάς The Sanctity of Hands

The Sanctity of Hands

Ο Γιώργος Ψωμάς είναι ένας από τους λίγους τυχερούς που έζησαν την καταστροφή της οικονομίας της Κύπρου από την ασφάλεια του καναπέ του στη Λευκωσία. Πριν από αυτό είχε μια σειρά από επιχειρήσεις: κατασκευή και ανάπτυξη ακινήτων, τροφοδοσία και πληροφορική.  Σήμερα δεν είναι σίγουρος πόσες από αυτές έχουν επιβιώσει. Ο Γιώργος σπούδασε στην Αγγλία (Imperial College) και στις ΗΠΑ (Stanford και Πανεπιστήμιο Κολούμπια) και εργάστηκε σε επενδυτική τραπεζική στη Νέα Υόρκη. Ζει στην Κύπρο από το 2005, έχει δύο αξιολάτρευτους γιους και μια σπουδαία γυναίκα που τον ανέχεται.

 



What is it with these people? and what is it with us? … disclaimer: this post is being written by a really angry person….

What has gotten me so angry you might ask? well, it started off with my hands…. you see I now realise that I have very special hands, hands that allow me to do all sorts of things better than most other people on the planet, and to be exact, better than 7.121 billion other people (that’s the Earth’s population in case you are wondering minus 838,897 ‘special hands’ persons - my first clue of where I am going with this).

And what makes these hands so special? Haven’t you guessed already? You probably have them too! They are special because they are Cypriot. Yes, my fellow reader, if you are one of the 838,897 people that according to October 2011 census reside in Cyprus this gives you automatically these special hands. But if you are not one of these people have no worries; just register a company in Cyprus (cost EUR 1000) and regardless of where you come from you are immediately endowed with these special hands as well!

And what can you do with these special hands? Well, the first thing you are qualified for is to run a bank. You might think that this is a complicated type of company with a vital role for the well-being of the economy and thus requires specialised knowledge, intelligence, skills etc etc but no you are mistaken, all you need is to have Cypriot hands. Do you doubt it? Ask God. Or if you cannot find him then ask the next best thing, his representative on planet Earth.

And in case you have any doubts (which you shouldn’t by now) we also have history to guide us about how the strategy of Cypriot hands has worked wonders for our small island. Look at Laiki and how bad it was doing when we had those ‘Asian’ hands  (also known as HSBC) being part of it. Heck after they left, Laiki has gone from strength to strength. And what about that other paragon of success called BoC? Under the Cypriot hands of Mr. Eliades, Mr. Aristodemou and fellow Cypriot board members it has done so well it took down the whole country with it. And lest not forget the best example of all, our beloved CoOP Banking Society led by the Cypriot hands of Mr. Hlorakiotis, the man who borrowed 10mm for him and his family, forgot to pay them back and will not give to publicity the terms of this loan for us to see if he got any ‘special terms’ because he ‘walks in the avenue of Honesty’. In another global first, these Cypriot hands managed to create a hole of about 1.5bn without the help of the Greek PSI haircut not to mention having percentages of non performing loans reaching close to 80% in some cases!

But Cypriot hands have enjoyed successes in so many other fields that it is unfair to concentrate on banking. Look how well they have been managing the country since it was created. Or don’t go so far back. Just look at the last few years and how the Cypriot hands of Mr. Christofias have firmly and steadily taken this country apart, demoralising our youth, destroying value all in the name of ‘I know better’. Yes, these are hands I would trust my own children and their future with (oh, wait, I did do that, didn’t I?).

And what about so many other patriotic Cypriot hands that have been milking companies like the Cyprus Airways, CYTA’s provident fund, abusing government resources, taking arms commissions all without a second thought? Don’t you feel so much better to know that at least your hard earned money have been stolen by Cypriots hands rather than those nasty, dirty foreigners?

And now we come to dear old Hellenic, the jewel of the crown that is so valuable that after 2-3 months of feverish fund raising no Cypriot hands were found to put in EUR 40MM. But then the evil dark lord, that answers to the name Satan or David Loeb comes along and decides that this is an undervalued asset and wants to buy it. But no we cannot have ‘foreign’ hands take control of the jewel. It must stay in Cypriot hands, it must. And if they cannot be Cypriot hands in the form of natural persons, at least let them be Cypriot hands in the form of legal entities and hence Wargaming.net, an incredibly successful company in the field of online gaming owned by Ukrainian interests. Now I am a bit old-fashioned and I tend to think that if you are successful in one field that doesn’t mean you will succeed in another (I suspect Mr. Miltiades Neofytou will agree with me on this one). So the fact that Wargaming.net has been successful in online internet gaming... well, I don’t know what this means for banking. But have no fear. At least they are ‘Cypriot’ hands. And, in any case, the other Cypriot suitor, Demetra Investments, is in the finance field so at least we have that (even though there is the problem of track record there but let’s not fret with details).

And finally, we have the media (not all of them, to be fair). Who took up the banner of the Cypriot flag and presented the whole story as an us vs them; that the foreigners are trying, once more, to steal our pride and glory and that Cypriot companies are coming to ‘shield’ Hellenic from all these evil-doers (as George W used to say). Instead of the focus being on who is the best owner for Hellenic (and best here is defined as he who will maximise better shareholder value) the focus was on the nationality or origin of the investor starting with the maxim Cypriot is always better than foreign.

Yes, there are issues to consider when an activist hedge fund investor like Mr. Loeb takes an interest in a bank and yes, all is not rosy or simple when you are dealing with hedge funds. And yes, there are certainly extremely capable, smart, successful people that also happen to be Cypriot. But what is clearly irrational, misplaced and short-sighted is to somehow feel that the nationality or origin of the investor is important in this case. Mr. Loeb took $3.3 million and turned them into $10,000 million in less than 20 years (and to avoid confusion note the direction of this i.e. from $3.3 million to $10.0 billion NOT the other way round which is pretty much what the beloved Cypriot hands of our politicians and bankers have done). So he has that going for him and at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter. Hellenic needed money and went to the world to get them. If the Cypriots were so worried about not having these evil foreigners running their bank then they should not have asked for money from them in the first place. And while we are at it, maybe we should not have asked for money from those other foreigners called Troika and relied on our own solid Cypriot hands to choke us to death completely!

 

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