Monday, July 06, 2015


There is a lot of discussion regarding the state of play in Greece and what is likely to happen. This reminds the Gorse Fox of his days in Starfleet.

He was asked to fly to Athens to review a major bid that Starfleet was submitting to the government for the supply of systems to a very large Ministry. GF and a colleague flew out one afternoon, then had a wonderful meal in a restaurant on the harbour-front in Piraeus. The following morning we headed for the Starfleet office. From the outside, an unassuming building, but inside was delightful; particularly so when GF was shown up to the rooftop conference room. This had views over Athens and up to the Acropolis. It was spectacular.

We stated by asking the Greek team to explain what was being requested by the  Government. We went though the requirements one by one; finding some of them quite ambiguous or woolly. We then asked the team to take us through their analysis and their proposed response. This took the first day of the review.

They took us out to dinner in a side street below the Acropolis. It was a very sociable evening and the food was wonderful.

The following day we started looking at the commercial constraints of the bid. What was the budget? What were the expected terms and conditions? Who are the competition? What is our analysis of the competitors' abilities, etc. This was all going well and whilst the bid needed a some work, and we would have to work on the price, it was do-able. Then we got to the main competitor. It was a Greek IT company (not one of the big international guys). More significantly it was owned by the brother of the Minister whose Ministry we were bidding to. We discussed the politics. We concluded that even if we gave it away for nothing - we had no chance. This was an old-boys club. We weren't invited.

The Gorse Fox pulled the plug. We would no-bid. GF was told it was so significant he would have to explain to the Country General Manager. GF was wheeled in and explained the situation and that it was pointless throwing away further money trying to win the unwinnable. He looked at the Gorse Fox, smiled, stood up and shook his hand. "Thank you, thank you" he said. It was clear that GF had confirmed to conclusion he had reached, but needed an international assessment to justify the no-bid.

He then took GF out for lunch and then got his driver to take GF to airport for the trip home.

GF's conclusion was that nepotism and patronage were rife and doing business against that background needs careful assessment and lots of contacts.

(GF also remembers they had a rule during the summer to cut pollution - on one day only cars with even-numbered registrations could drive into Athens, the the following day it was odd-numbers. GF through this was clever until a Greek colleague said it was no problem - everyone had two cars or two sets of registrations - one odd, and one even.)

1 comment:

Patrick Cox said...

You might find my analysis on my blog interesting, but you've confirmed everything the Germans are getting a bit upset about. Hr Schauble was very annoyed last night to have a leader of the former East German Communists telling him it was all the fault of 'Capitalism' and he should agree to a massive handout and reschedule the debts writing off at least half. Unsurprisingly he blew a couple of fuses and treated everyone to a rather Teutonic appraissal of the sort of garbage the Greeks have been trotting out at their meetings.

His point was that they have been living off everyone else since they joined the Euro, and want it to continue. But he was also fairly clear that Germany will only put more money in IF the Greeks do some major reforms.