John Paulson and a clutch of bullish U.S. hedge funds are leading a charge into Greek banks, confident that Greece, long seen as the weakest economy of the euro zone periphery, is on the turn.
Such is the strength of their interest that Greece's big banks are now lobbying the government to consider expediting re-privatization of the long-troubled sector. Mr Paulson, best known for his successful wager against the U.S. sub-prime mortgage market in 2007, praised Greece's "very favorable pro-business government".
"The Greek economy is improving, which should benefit the banking sector," Mr Paulson told the Financial Times. He confirmed his fund, Paulson & Co, had substantial stakes in Piraeus and Alpha, the two banks that have emerged in best shape from the crisis. "[Both] are now very well capitalized and poised to recover [with] good management," he said in rare public comments.
(Read more: Greece's problems are still Germany's problems)
Paulson is the highest profile of the hedge funds to invest aggressively into Greek banks. Others include Baupost, Eaglevale, Dromeus Capital, Falcon Edge, York Capital and Och-Ziff , according to people close to the situation. Long-only funds, including Wellington Capital Group and Fidelity, have also taken positions.