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Euler Hermes - who?

Euler Hermes are the world's biggest credit insurance firm. Where they lead others follow. Photo: Reuters

You wouldn't be blamed for having never heard of them, but a big company who insure business transactions has made a decision symbolic of just how much trouble Greece could be in.

Euler Hermes are in fact the world's biggest firm who insure trade credit. It has stopped covering companies who export to Greece, for fear that the bills will never be paid.

Some analysts are calling this a watershed as a big business player essentially saying there is a very big risk that Greek firms, even the best, just won't be able to pay their debts. It is a risk they are no longer prepared to take.

Hermes are mainly owned by the huge German insurer Allianz. And where they have led others may follow.

During the dramatic events of 2008 credit insurers were criticised for pulling out of insurance deals which caused chaos for some companies and forced some governments to step in and provide guarantees of their own.

Most exporters do not in fact take out this kind of insurance, but the verdict from Euler Hermes makes even the idea of doing business with Greece less appealing.