The case of businessman Ivan Savvidis and his entrepreneurial activity in Greece is a bit complicated.
No one can say for certain what the focus of his business activity is. Is he mainly the president of a Football Club? Is he an hotelier? Is he the owner of a tobacco factory? Is he a publisher? Is he an entrepreneur in international transport? Or is he perhaps all of the above?
His multifarious activity, according to a report in Ta Nea, had attracted the interest of Greeks and foreigners even before he invaded on 11 March the playing field in the stadium in Thessaloniki’s Toumba, home of PAOK F.C., which he owns.
Questions were posed to the Syriza-Independent Greeks government, under the rule of which Savvidis’ businesses flowered, though most of the above assets were acquired before the current government came to power.
Yet, it was the good graces of the current government, which Savvidis enjoyed, that helped to grow his multifaceted business empire, the creation of which is spotted with murky elements.
Greek debut: Conquest of Thesssaloniki
The tobacco worker, of Pontian Greek descent, who became a businessman in Rostov, timidly began his business activity in Greece, testing the Greek waters through an investment in a football club.
In August, 2012, he buys, and saves from certain dissolution, Thessaloniki’s PAOK F.C.
Then he bought Thessaloniki’s grand, historical Hotel Macedonia Palace, which had been seized from the Daskalantonakis Group by the IKA Social Insurance Foundation, due to accrued debt.
In February, 2013, he won a tender for a temporary lease of the hotel, which is a Thessaloniki landmark. A few months later, he won a second tender for a 30-year lease of the luxury hotel.
It was at this time that Savvidis began discussions regarding the purchase of the SEKAP tobacco company in Thrace.
A number of members of the government of Antonis Samaras, who was in power at the time, considered Savvidis as an ideal candidate for the purchase of the cooperative company.
Indeed, in the summer of 2013, Savvidis flagship company, Donskoy Tabak, paid 3.31 million euros to the Agricultural Bank of Greece, and acquired 50.36 percent of SEKAP.
Media debut, political backing
In May, 2017, Savvidis appears determined to make a bold entry in Greece’s complicated media terrain.
He publicly expresses an interest in DOL (Lambrakis Press, Greece’s oldest, largest, and most prestigious media group), and Pegasus, also a mighty force in media publishing. Both had a stake in Mega television, Greece’s largest and most influential broadcaster.
On 26 July, 2017, he bought at auction the newspapers Ethnos and Imerisia, for 3.5 million euros.
His last media acquisition was the rather new Epsilon television station.
Share in the Port of Thessaloniki
One of Savvidis’ most important moves, from the commercial and geostrategic perspective, was the acquisition of the Port of Thessaloniki concession, through his participation in a consortium.
There was much talk of the deal and the lack of transparency with which it was concluded, particularly from the American side.
Geoffrey Pyatt, the US Ambassador to Athens, publicly raised questions about the provenance of the capital with which the concession was acquired.
Return to Rostov
As of yesterday, Savvidis and his son are back in Rostov, Russia. He traveled there, where his main business enterprise is located, after his actions in the football stadium raised a political and judicial maelstrom in Greece.