Warsaw Stock Exchange looks stateside to boost regional role

Chief executive aims to extend NYSE-Euronext links to ease cross-market trading
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The Independent Online

The Warsaw Stock Exchange (WSE) is looking to deepen its partnership with New York as it aims to entrench its position as the leading European bourse east of Frankfurt.

The exchange signed a technology-sharing agreement with the NYSE-Euronext group last year. However, WSE chief executive Ludwik Sobolewski said that there were some early talks to extend this, such as by allowing financial intermediaries, including brokers, to be able to more easily act in each other's markets.

"For the partnership with the NYSE, maybe there are some business initiatives that could result," said Mr Sobolewski. "Maybe in areas like data distribution and cross-membership, so investment firms executing trades."

The WSE has taken over from Austria as central and eastern Europe's leading stock exchange in the past few years. For example, the companies on its exchange are worth the best part of double that of Vienna, the region's next biggest exchange.

Mr Sobolewski said that the current wave mergers between some of the world's biggest exchanges, including London's proposed deal with Toronto, could boost trade on the WSE. He said that a new wave of mega-exchanges would naturally concentrate on the world's biggest companies, meaning that many mid-sized companies could look to Warsaw where they would have much greater exposure to investors.

"With London intending to merge with Toronto they will be less focused on areas where we think we might have a strategic advantage," argued Mr Sobolewski.

"Even now in the agriculture sector we are the number one choice [of exchange] for Ukrainian companies. They realise that you do not necessarily need to go to Frankfurt or London to get additional capital. They hope that they will be more visible in the [central Europe] region."

Mr Sobolewski led the WSE's own listing on the exchange last November, one of a number of privatisations angering Polish unions.

There were protests in Warsaw last week over some of these plans when the WSE was hosting a major international summit on central and eastern European listings that attracted big companies and bankers from across the Continent.

However, senior politicians remained unrepentant, insisting their plans for the country were correct.