REPORTAGE
MAY 13-14, 2019
LIMASSOL, St. Raphael HOTEL
The 5th BEST INVEST CONGRESS in Limassol brings together International investors and local experts
The 5th BEST INVEST CONGRESS opened its doors at St. Raphael hotel resort in Limassol on May 13. For one more time investors, entrepreneurs and experts united to discuss investment and economic potential of Cyprus, identify risks and seek solutions to the main problems that our island faces today. A number of important questions were addressed related to the imbalances of the global economy, Cyprus reputation, the best sectors for capital investment, the situation within the financial system and many other subjects.
Cyprus investment strategy results and risks of the future
The first day of the event opened with a keynote speech by Philip Ammerman, an investment advisor and entrepreneur, who has reviewed the existing investment strategy of Cyprus. He has mentioned that Cyprus economy remains dependent on foreign capital inflows.

Discussing the main areas of investment, Ammerman pointed out that the "ship management revenue rose to 528 mln. USD in 2018", the property investment is growing as a result of investor citizenship program, demand for student housing, seasonal labour housing and buy-to-rent /tourism market rentals. Within the investor citizenship programme, 3255 passports have been granted between 2009 and 2017. Public sector employment has been growing since 2015, while there is still a lot of work to be done in the private sector. The Minister of Energy, Commerce and Industry Mr. Yiorgos Lakkotripis has also confirmed that Cyprus achieved an overall growth of 3.8 % in 2018 while for the next three years it is expected to grow the economy at least for 3-3.5 %.

The keynote speaker has also talked about the risks of future investment plans. Such risks include geopolitical situation, regulatory overshoot, international financial crisis, US treasury operations, lower banking effectiveness, etc. "We don't see the entrance of new capital changes in Cyprus, it is a key problem for the economy",- said Philip Ammerman. Cyprus is falling behind in many cases due to the bureaucracy, lack of digital productivity, the length of judicial processes. It certainly can do much better.

Where can Cyprus be 20-25 years from now?
Ajay Goyal, a creative entrepreneur & Venture investor compared Cyprus with "a rough diamond awaiting cut and polish." "Government needs to be proactive and it needs to be like a diamond cutter and polisher", - said Goyal. He stressed out the importance of dedication to European values, zero tolerance for corruption and racism, support mechanisms for the weakest social groups and areas, listening to investors and tourists that are central to Cyprus economic sustenance. "If we don't uphold the values of justice, equality, and humanity while we seek profit, then we will determine whether we end up in the bubble or like a diamond", - said Goyal.

According to him, Cyprus has inevitable bright future due to its location, smart size and natural resources. He considers the best investment in innovation. From a technological point of view, Cyprus is staying behind many European countries. Speaking about tourism, Goyal noted that the country needs to promote more diverse tourism, heritage tourism, attract people who want to experience "human touch." He believes that with smart thinking and technological innovation, Cyprus can position itself as a luxury destination with sustainable living.

Turning Cyprus into an attractive investment destination
Panel discussions of BEST INVEST CONGRESS brought together the representatives of the most promising industries in Cyprus including the hospitality industry, aviation, agriculture, energy, shipping, real estate, medical tourism, etc. Panellists discussed also the anti-crisis strategies in an era of economic uncertainty.

They agreed that the main problem of Cyprus is its reputation, which needs to be rebuilt. In the past, the procedure of opening a bank account on the island was extremely easy and it became a huge problem, the results we are witnessing now. However, meanwhile the banking situation is similar now everywhere in the world, there are some difficulties in Cyprus with proper understanding the OECD by the financial institutions. Panellists also talked about the future of passport by investment program, which should continue according to the opinion of the majority of speakers.

Mr. Goyal had recommended for Cyprus to create a single point of services for the investors to stop them running from one place to another. There is a big opportunity in Cyprus for attracting investors in a technological sector, the IT schemes are quite beneficial as well, but many investors don't know about it. Jimmy Sexton, a founder and CEO of Esquire Group in UAE commented on the possibility of Cyprus to become a central point for funds registration. Christiana Diogenous, a CEO of Unicars highlighted that Cyprus needs to grow using its strength: people and capital. It needs to use technology and to be aware of being environmentally sustainable.

The Mayor of Limassol Mr. Nicos Nicolaides has attended the Congress. He described Limassol as a very attractive investment destination and mentioned that the local authorities are trying to enhance all the features, cut down the costs and do everything else possible to facilitate the investment processes.

Most promising industries in Cyprus
It became clear that Cyprus real estate market is growing despite the negative facts happening in Europe. Even the uncertainty of Brexit and decrease in property prices in Dubai has a positive influence on the investments in Cyprus. The growth in educational sector results in the increasing demand for student housing and of course the tourism and on-going casino project play their important role. Mr. Yiannis Misirlis, a founding director of Imperio Group, mentioned that Cyprus could do better in real estate segment since a decade before the global economic crisis the figures were much higher: "I can see the market growing, the numbers give us these facts. I feel that the potential is really good and the foundations are quite solid." .- he said. It was mentioned that people buy property not only because of passports but simply because they believe in Cyprus.

The Energy market is expected to have major changes in the nearest future with Cyfield group introducing a new electricity plant and reaching 1500 MW maximum annual energy by 2027 (today maximum is 1200 MW). Now we are paying high electricity prices because in the existing monopoly market the plants are old and inefficient. The investments into alternative energy can be made through already established funds. The Minister also talked about important steps undertaking by the government towards becoming a gas producer and penetration of renewable energy. The shipping industry is another strong pillar and the government of the republic recognizes and promotes it while for the investors it might mean a stable return with almost no taxation. Apparently, Cyprus has made huge progress also in the Space exploration sector. Mr. George A. Danos, founder and president of Cyprus Space Exploration Organisation has mentioned that there are major opportunities for the private sector to get involved.

The medical tourism in Cyprus is just at the beginning of its expansion. Cyprus government still has to support medical tourism sector, because it is growing fast (9 % increase every year) worldwide. Currently, there is only one rehabilitation resort (Eden Resort) opened last year focusing on people that are in need of rehabilitation, wellness, medical support (besides hospital and clinics).



The first day of Best Invest Congress has shown that in general, Cyprus is doing a good job, using its strategic advantage, promoting key industries for investments. There is a number of aspects that can be improved to attract capital contribution in technology, improve financial institutions' efficiency and develop new sectors for investments such as Medical tourism and heritage tourism, for example. Cyprus has a high level of expertise available for investors and all speakers in general agreed on optimistic future for our island despite the difficult times coming ahead.

To understand the format of the event better look through the reportage on previous BEST INVEST events. Please mail to ip@vkcyprus.com if you wish to become one of the conference participants the next year.
MAY 14-16, 2018
LIMASSOL, St. Raphael HOTEL
BEST INVEST Conference United
International Real Estate Experts
The 4th BEST INVEST conference took place in Limassol on May 14-16th. Its aim was to gather together investors and business owners who are ready to engage in fruitful cooperation. The conference was organised by the Successful Business magazine.
A reception welcoming the guests took place on May 14th. Minister of energy, trade, industry and tourism Georgios Lakkotrypis opened the official ceremony.
Meeting of the Working Group of Cyprus-India Cooperation
The first day of the event, May 14th, opened with a meeting of the Working Group of Cyprus-India Cooperation. Among the participants during lectures and panel discussions the following guests were present: High Commissioner of India to Cyprus Dr R.K. Raghavan, President of Cyprus-India Business Association Marios Andreou, Deputy Minister of Shipping Natasa Pilides, MSC Shipmanagement founder and Director General Prabhat Kumar Jha, Royal Commonwealth Society (Cyprus) Director Anna Karafoulidou, lawyer Costas Catsaros, Top Kinisis Travel Vice-President Elena Tanou, and Areti Charidemou, a lawyer and partner of Areti Charidemou & Associates LLC.
The experts discussed the past, present and future Cyprus-India relations. The two countries have always maintained close relationship which grows stronger every year, said High Commissioner. Modern technology plays a major role in this. For the last 50 years India has been putting much effort into levelling up to global technology leaders, and is now ready to offer Cyprus a number of high-class business solutions.

Qualifications of Indian programmers and other specialists are recognised globally, e.g. by Google. Both Cyprus and India are willing to strengthen and further develop their business connections.

Another topic for discussion was the possible measures to be taken on the state level, such as simplification of visa issuing for business and tourist trips, increasing the transparency in the financial sphere, as well as exchange of experience, knowledge and technology. Cyprus and India can find grounds for cooperation not only in the IT sphere, but also in tourism, investments, medicine, industrial production, etc.

Exhibition and Investment Projects Presentation
As part of the BEST INVEST conference, an exhibition of real estate investment projects took place on May 14th. The guests had an opportunity to learn about a number of flagship projects, such as Trilogy, Limassol Del Mar, Zaria, The One, The Icon, as well as about real estate from other market segments. Companies, such as Aristo, Harakis, Imperio, Leptos, Oikos, Pafilia, Shanda, CyField, Marr, BG Waywin, Trilogy, Allea Global, made presentations about their activities on the market. Luxury highrises, modern residential development projects, commercial real estate and investment opportunities—the detailed specifications of these options, including prices, locations and concepts, provided a solid foundation for comparison. Also, the activities of Renaissance Investments, Conculco, and Fiduciana Trust companies were presented to the guests.

Leading Cyprus developers, including Aristo Developers Ltd, Trilogy Limassol Seafront Ltd, Marr Group, Leptos Estates, Oikos Group, Pafilia Property Developers Ltd, Imperio Group, Allea Global Properties Ltd, and CyField Group of Companies, introduced their projects during the exhibition. The experts gave succinct presentations and answered the questions from the audience.
Plenary Sessions
BEST INVEST is not merely a conference, but a large-scale project, which aims at business relations development and strengthening, and at expert training. Hence, the second day of the conference comprised plenary sessions, discussions, seminars, and master-classes.

During the plenary sessions' opening, Limassol Mayor Nicos Nicolaides expressed his gratitude to the guests for their keen interest regarding business communications development in Cyprus. He emphasized the importance of active business people's involvement in the Cyprus economic recovery, and informed the public about the ways of attracting investors to Cyprus and about numerous current opportunities.

The first of the two plenary sessions looked into the latest trends in the Cypriot securities market, as well as opportunities, challenges and risks which the local economy is facing in 2018. Among the participants were the President of the Cyprus Association of Investment Funds Angelos Greoriades, Director of the Cyprus International Institute of Management (CIIM) Theodore Panayotou, RCB Vice-President Vladimir Zrazhewski, Chairman and CEO of the ÖL Shipping Group Eberhard Koch, an entrepreneur and venture investor, well-known internationally for his involvement in startups Ajay Goyal, President of the Cyprus Employers and Industrialists Federation Christos Michaelides, Chief Business Development Officer at Point Nine Andreas Roussos, Director of Ioannou and Theodoulou Theodoros Theodoulou, and Millya Group CEO and co-founder Ilya Loshak.

During the discussions moderated by Ajay Goyal and managing director of Fiduciana Trust Limited Anna Homenko, the experts talked about the developments in Cyprus which took place in between the crisis of 2013 and today's economic recovery. The plenary session participants agreed that the achieved financial results were directly connected to foreign investments and to the variety of services and goods offered by the local market.

The second plenary session expanded on the topic of future investments in the commercial and residential real estate. The experts discussed the existing programmes and new prospects of mutual investing along the Cyprus—Russia—Europe—Asia axis. Among the professionals who participated in this meeting were: Investor Relations Director of Consulco Dmitry Khenkin, Director of The Leading Properties of The World (Monaco) Sergey Sander, CEO of Oikos Developers Petros Petrou, Head of Real Estate Sales of Allea Global Properties Elena Narbuts, CEO of Nomera Capital (Portugal) Cristóvão Matos, Managing Director of AES Consulting Gmbh (Austria) Chinara Tuganbayeva, CEO of Plus Properties (Lebanon) Georges Chehwane, Financial Director of Reckon Developments (Ireland) Sergey Tarutin, Chairman of the Planning and Building Committee of the Municipality of Rishon LeZion Michael Raif, and CEO at Lekvi-Group (Czech Republic) Firaz Muinov.

During the discussion moderated by Founding Director of the Imperio Group Yiannis Misirlis, the foreign experts explained what types of real estate attracted the most interest from investors, and what caused that interest, as well as how to manage the demand. The speakers shared their views on attracting potential investors in different countries, and on Cyprus real estate sector's potential.

Seminars and Masterclasses
As part of the BEST INVEST conference, educational events are organised annually. This year three experts shared their unique experience and knowledge with the participants during three-hour seminars, held on May 15-16th.

During the seminar titled 'Attract, Nurture, Convert: The New Rules of Getting Clients Online', an international speaker and coach Justin Devonshire explained the main criteria of working with online market segment. He shared his knowledge regarding how portals and social networks operate, gave examples of efficient running of any website, and elaborated on the potential client's evolution from an interested party to the paying one.
An expert in cultural architecture and change management, Timur Yagdarov, held a session under the title 'Tribal Leadership', explaining how a team's work efficiency can be doubled, what alternative there is to the dominating management style, and what is more important for an employee—one's ego or the common good. The masterclasses were presented in Russian and English.

Ekaterina Stepanova, who works as a Marketing director at Kalinka Group, presented two masterclasses. The first one, 'Personal Charisma and Sales Skills', expounded on such important aspect as a personality's role in the process of increasing effectiveness in the real estate sales. Ms Stepanova shared some reliant tools which allow a 30 per cent growth increase. She also explained how to procrastinate beneficially and to evoke necessary emotional reactions from potential customers. The other masterclass touched upon the creation of effective sales team, art of negotiations, and cooperation with mass media.

Both participants and speakers of the BEST INVEST conference appreciated the very high level of organisation, and expressed their gratitude to the Organising Committee for the opportunity to share their views during discussions and to build business connections in an informal setting.


BEST INVEST CONFERENCE 2017 Video
Opening Ceremony 2017