Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

PERSPECTIVE

Big data: ‘A key democratic issue’

Read more

MIDDLE EAST MATTERS

Susan Meiselas: Kurdistan through the lens

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Global wine production drops to lowest level in 60 years

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Trump and Macron media moments in the US

Read more

ENCORE!

Photographer Clare Strand explores the causes and consequences of communication breakdown

Read more

IN THE PRESS

Fashion and ethics: Five years after Bangladesh factory collapse, what's changed?

Read more

FOCUS

Israel’s migrant crisis: Clear government signals, but unclear decisions

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Louis XIV's message for the British royal baby

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

Zimbabwean nurses call off strike and return to work

Read more

FOCUS

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

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

2018-04-24 Israel

Israel’s migrant crisis: Clear government signals, but unclear decisions

Israel has been trying to find a way to force between 30,000 and 40,000 African migrants to leave the country. Many of them arrived years ago, when they were minors. At the end...

Read more

2018-04-23 Cameroon

Tramadol: Cameroon’s low-budget opioid crisis

Today’s Focus report takes us to Cameroon where we look at a growing addiction to opioids. Readily available on the black market, one of the most abused substances, Tramadol, is...

Read more

2018-04-20 Asia-pacific

Pashtun Protection Movement speaks up against extrajudicial killings

Some 30 million Pashtuns live in Pakistan - that's around 15% of the country's population. Partly because most Taliban members are Pashtun, the word "Pashtun" has, for many...

Read more

2018-04-19 Middle East

The citizens finding solutions to Lebanon's chronic waste crisis

For years, Lebanese citizens have been dealing with the consequences of bad waste management. This is especially visible in the capital Beirut and the heavily urbanised coastal...

Read more

2018-04-18 Americas

Video: A look back at the Castro years in Cuba

A new chapter is beginning in Cuba, with the country's National Assembly meeting to elect a new president. Raul Castro is stepping down from his position as head of state after...

Read more