Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

EYE ON AFRICA

Muhammadu Buhari sworn in as President

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

South african government denies FIFA was paid world cup bribe

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Sepp Blatter strikes back

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Pantheon: Acknowledging France's great men and women

Read more

#TECH 24

One heart, one tree: An app that bridges tech and the environment

Read more

FOCUS

Immigration, an American paradox

Read more

REPORTERS

Video - Abu Azrael: ‘Iraq’s Rambo’

Read more

#THE 51%

Brave women of history: French Resistance Heroines inducted into Pantheon

Read more

Our Focus programme brings you exclusive reports from around the world. From Monday to Friday at 7.45 am Paris time.

FOCUS

FOCUS

Latest update : 2010-09-09

Poland leads the EU field for finance

It's not just with the economic forum in Krynica that Poland is trying to take a lead in Central European finance. Warsaw's stock exchange has lofty ambitions. And the relative health of the Polish economy - the only one in Europe not to suffer a recession - has allowed Warsaw to emerge from the crisis as market leader. Warsaw's burgeoning financial centre is turning the Polish capital into a London of the east...

More than 1,800 academic, political and business leaders are gathering in the Polish mountain resort of Krynica to discuss Central Europe's economy, and its integration with Western Europe, and the bloc's neighbours to the East.

Over its 20-year lifespan, the Krynica economic forum has developed from being a mainly Polish event to one with significance for the whole of Europe. And that's no accident. Poland has an active ambition to become the most important financial centre for the region.

The decision, in 1991, to house the new Warsaw Stock Exchange in the former communist party headquarters was one charged with symbolism. And now that stock exchange is racing ahead of its nearest rivals. The value of domestic companies listed in Warsaw is now 55% percent higher than on the Vienna Börse, and more than double Athens' total. Warsaw is even closing the gap on the whole consortium of exchanges (including Budapest, Prague and Lubljana) owned by the Vienna Börse.

"It would be very nice and very helpful to the Polish economy to become the 'London of the East'", says Ludwik Sobolewski, CEO of the exchange, which has now moved next door. "Or rather, of Central and Eastern Europe, because that is how we define the area where we would like to be a financial hub, and a stock exchange which is not a local one".

The growth of the Warsaw exchange is not just a result of the country's sustained growth rate. It is also a product of the centre-right government's concern to cut Poland's deficit by privatising large, state-owned enterprises. IPOs by insurer PZU and energy giant Tauron made a big splash this year, attracting both individual players and foreign investors, who accounted for a record 47% of total trading in the first half of 2010.

The development of the financial services sector in Warsaw has also been fuelled by the exchange's alternative market, New Connect, which has allowed small and medium-sized businesses to find capital. Anna Nietyksza of Eficom, a company that helps other businesses prepare their flotations on new connect, puts it simply: "We're going through a boom."

The Warsaw Stock Exchange itself is due to be floated in November. Many are whetting their lips at this prospect, but some analysts are sceptical. "I would support a different scenario", says Pawel Szalamacha, a former deputy treasury minister who now heads the Sobieski Institute think tank. "The ownership of the exchange should be spread among various private institutions, but it should not go public. This would avoid creating the strange situation where the stock exchange, in order to increase its short term profits, relaxes rules at the expense of the safety and reliability of the market". The current government, however, has preferred to take a gamble.

By Gulliver CRAGG

COMMENT(S)

Archives

2015-05-29 USA

Immigration, an American paradox

America prides itself on being a melting pot built on immigration. Despite this history, some 11 million undocumented migrants are seeing their path to US citizenship very much...

Read more

2015-05-28 Sudan

The plight of civilians in Darfur's forgotten conflict

The ongoing war in Sudan's Darfur region has fallen off the global media radar in recent years. But a new government offensive against rebel factions has resulted in up to 70,000...

Read more

2015-05-27 Thailand

Thailand cracks down on human traffickers amid worsening migrant crisis

Over the past few weeks, FRANCE 24 has been reporting on the thousands of desperate Bangladeshi and Rohingya migrants who have landed ashore in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand....

Read more

2015-05-26 Nepal

Nepalese children still struggling one month after quake

On Monday, Nepal marked one month since its devastating earthquake. The April 25 quake, followed by another powerful tremor on May 12, killed over 8,600 people and destroyed...

Read more

2015-05-25 Lebanon

Lebanon marks one year without a president

In Lebanon, the president's chair has now sat empty for a full year. Electoral rules state that the head of state must come from the Maronite Christian sect, but this isn't...

Read more