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Financial Markets: A Gateway to Balkans Prosperity EU-Balkans Discussion Group – 5th Luncheon Polish Embassy, London, 20 July 2011
to be the most attractive opportunities from the London Stock Exchange perspective. Particularly, at a time of turbulent financial crisis, equity, according to Dr Hayes is more resilient than debt. Dr Hayes noted that given the strategic location of the region, its richness in natural resources including the energy potentials in hydro-power, wind power and solo-power as well as potentials in investing in infrastructure and tourism, the finance to further develop such important sectors for the region has to come from equity investors. According to him international financial markets could also provide equity to enhance the economic development in the region considering that there are numerous companies, some in the public sector that will need to be modernised in order to strengthen their activities in an ever-increasing competitive environment. Therefore the London Stock Exchange perspective is that the opportunities of using equity as a part of the privatisation model – which can still allow some degree of control of the national identity – could be the way forward.
The fifth working luncheon of the EU-Balkans Discussion Group was hosted and chaired by Her Excellency Barbara Tuge – Erecińska Ambassador of the Republic of Poland at the Polish Embassy, London, on 20 July 2011, as a follow up of the fourth meeting of 21 March 2011 hosted and chaired by the Hungarian Embassy. Regional economic and political cooperation and sustained foreign direct investment, as noted by Ambassador Tuge-Erecińska, and further elaborated by the IBDE Chief Executive, are necessary for further integration of the local economies of the Western Balkans into the European economic and political structures. In light of this, Mr Peter Hayes, Head of Public Affairs of the London Stock Exchange and Advisory Board member of IBDE was invited to talk about how financial sector can promote public/private sector development in South Eastern Europe and the role of Stock Exchanges in facilitating the process. The meeting noted that the Polish Presidency has put EU Integration and the economic growth at the top of their agenda and in this context Poland - with its vast experience on the subject of EU integration – could be of great support and benefit to the countries of the region in their path towards European integration. The meeting took the opportunity to congratulate Croatia and Hungary for concluding negotiations on the Accession Treaty for Croatia. Dr Peter Hayes, Head of Public Affairs of London Stock Exchange and IBDE Advisory Board Member, noted that talking about financial markets in the Balkans is particularly relevant because the Balkans is a crossroad of cultures, civilizations, and it seems that after years of struggle now is a time of opportunity for the Balkans. In terms of foreign investment, equity investment seems 36
The meeting also noted that some of the companies in the region might have difficulties with listings on various exchanges. It was also suggested that smaller family businesses and medium sized companies from the UK/EU should be encouraged to explore the opportunities in the region. The potential for investment in pension funds, inward investment and the high quality of the labour markets in the Balkans were raised too. The meeting concluded that the raising of awareness of business opportunities, visibility and points of perception (one of the objectives of the EU-Balkans DG) together with the governmental support in the region in providing a friendly and well regulated business environment and the highest standards of corporate behaviour, should allow the Western Balkans in partnership with the international markets to unlock the potential and enhance the economic development of the region. The luncheon was attended by the Ambassadors and other senior diplomats of EU-Balkans including Turkey, as well as directors from FCO, UKTI, London Stock Exchange, HSBC, EBRD, DMA ... The “EU-Balkans Discussion Group” meetings, as an initiative of the IBDE - an NGO based in London, are designed to support and promote regional cooperation and the socio-economic developpment of South East Europe with the support of EU and Balkans Embassies in the UK for the benefit, in particular, of the countries of the Western Balkans and the EU. In this regard the project aims to focus on regional cooperation, providing a regional approach for trade and/or investment, in order to maximize its common regional appeal to the wider multinational business community. To register your interest please send your email, name, position and affiliation at email@example.com www.ibde.org