Where's the growth? Euro zone still lacks investor appeal

Euro

Novak, who expects 2013 to be a transition year for Europe, said his firm would continue to look for investments in businesses with strong exports located in Britain and northern Europe. But more evidence of long-term stability was needed to make deals in southern Europe attractive, he added.

AUSTERITY

The ECB's pledge to buy unlimited quantities of bonds of weaker nations has led to the near-halving of Italian and Spanish borrowing costs from their euro crisis peaks, with some fund managers dipping back into hard-hit sovereign bonds after months of absence.

Herbert Scheidt, chairman of Swiss private bank Vontobel, said Draghi's action had been a potent antidote to the bets many hedge funds had been placing on the collapse of the euro and was a stabilising factor in the market.

But the prospect of prolonged, austerity-led stagnation in the region is making assets in places like Italy, Spain, Germany, Portugal and Greece still unpalatable for many long-term overseas investors.

Bankers and investors agree these countries need to continue to push through painful labour and welfare reforms to improve the region's competitiveness.

But some are skeptical about politicians' ability to use the breathing space the ECB has offered them to lead a return to a path of growth, with many saying economic retrenchment in these countries looked too aggressive.

"Even if Greek bonds might have generated 80 pct for you last year, it didn't change anything on the unemployment front where 50 percent of young people are unemployed," said Alexander Bazarov, a member of the management board and vice president of Sberbank, Russia's biggest bank.

"I don't see any major appetite among Russian businessmen for investing in the European Union. An hotel here and there. But there are no major, mainstream deals," Bazarov said.

While some investors, especially in North America, are wary of moving back decisively into Europe, others will be well aware that fortune can favour the brave.

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