Investors eye Greece despite debt talks breakdown

The collapse of debt negotiations over the weekend caused Greek stocks to fall more than 5 percent Monday, leading to losses of more than 1 percent on U.S. exchanges. But a small group of hedge funds continues to view uncertainty in Greece as a chance to make money.

"While the ongoing negotiations are likely to result in volatility, regardless of the outcome there should be attractive European recovery opportunities in both Greece and Europe more broadly," Gregory Schneiderman, a portfolio manager at $8 billion hedge fund allocator Aurora Investment Management, said in an email Friday.

Schneiderman noted that Greece was not a common position for hedge funds and that investors only see "a limited number of actionable opportunities" directly related to the troubled country.

A man reads a newspaper next to a kiosk in Thessaloniki on 4 June, 2015.
Sakis Mitrodlidis | AFP | Getty Images
A man reads a newspaper next to a kiosk in Thessaloniki on 4 June, 2015.

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Hedge funds to bet on a Greek recovery include Third Point and Alden Global Capital via their respective Greek recovery-focused funds, and Perry Capital and Knighthead Capital Management are among those that own Greek government bonds, people familiar with the situation told on Friday.

York Capital Management, Greylock Capital Management and Eaglevale Partners are in on the bullish Greek trade, including both stocks and bonds, according to a report in February.

Representatives for all the firms mentioned either declined to comment or did not respond to requests.

"Greece has a very, very compelling argument from a risk-reward standpoint," said one investor Friday.

Securities are certainly cheap. Local stocks are down 56 percent over the last 12 months. Financial stocks owned by some hedge funds earlier this year, including Alpha Bank and Piraeus Bank, are down even more (66 percent and 82 percent, respectively). Government bonds also trade at about half their face value.

The fund manager expects the country to stay in the European Union given that most Greeks want to remain and thereby avoid the likely severe economic blow of adopting a new currency. If the current government defaults, it would likely be voted out of power in favor of politicians who would make a deal with European officials anyway, according to the person.

"It's not how we think the next few weeks go," the person said, "but rather what the end result is."

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