ECM Activity Picks Up in Central Europe

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Byline: Caroline Muspratt

Politicians insist that European Union enlargement will be good for business. The early signs are already showing in the recent flurry of activity in the equity capital markets in Central and Eastern Europe.Prospects have improved with EU entry on the horizon for countries including Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic, which in turn could pave the way for a flood of equity capital markets deals.

Martin Grull, head of the Central and Eastern Europe division at Bank Austria Creditanstalt, says the outlook is positive: "The banking market in Central and Eastern Europe has defied the international economic slowdown and has achieved growth. It will continue in the coming years."

Citigroup has won the mandate to manage the privatisation of MOL, the Hungarian oil and gas group. The government is to sell its 23% stake, worth around 132.3bn Hungarian forint ([euro]516m), as part of a drive to privatise state assets.

Last month the Budapest Stock Exchange connected to Xetra, Deutsche Borse's electronic trading platform, allowing the first Eastern European market participants to use the system. The Budapest exchange is providing the technical infrastructure and routeing network to connect its trading participants to the Frankfurt stock exchange. This should open up the local market to German investors and allow easier access to German shares. …