Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

DEBATE

If Scotland Says 'Aye': Polls Say Independence Referendum Too Close to Call (part 2)

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Scottish referendum in the media

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Homosexuality in Africa: Kenyan movie debuts at Toronto Film Festival

Read more

DEBATE

If Scotland Says 'Aye': Polls Say Indpendence Referendum Too Close to Call

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Ebola virus: US to send 3,000 troops to West Africa

Read more

THE BUSINESS INTERVIEW

Inger Andersen, Vice President for the Middle East and North Africa, The World Bank

Read more

FOCUS

Scottish referendum: Should I stay or should I go?

Read more

MIDDLE EAST MATTERS

Paris conference: A coalition against the Islamic State group

Read more

ENCORE!

Encore's Film Show: Spies, doppelgangers and gay rights activists

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

2014-09-17 referendum

Scottish referendum: Should I stay or should I go?

This Wednesday is the final day of campaigning before people living in Scotland vote on whether or not to leave the United Kingdom. Our correspondents in Scotland have been to...

Read more

2014-09-16 refugees

Italy: The search for missing migrants

As hundreds more migrants are feared dead in the Mediterranean, we're looking into the disappearance of many of those who do make it to Europe, hoping for a better life....

Read more

2014-09-15 refugees

Lebanon: Islamic State organisation advances on refugee camps

After Iraq and Syria, Lebanon appears to be the next theatre of operations for the radical Islamic State organisation. Arsal, a remote town on the Syrian border, has become the...

Read more

2014-09-12 World War I

The ghosts of German-ruled Namibia

Over a century ago, Germany colonised what is now know as Namibia. In the years that followed, tens of thousands of Africans were killed and all opposition was crushed. After its...

Read more

2014-09-11 humanitarian action

Calais struggles with flood of UK-bound migrants

For years, the northern French city of Calais has been a transit point for some of the world's most desperate people: migrants from countries like Syria, Eritrea, Afghanistan and...

Read more