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CEE: Investment banks rebuild from the foundations

After the turmoil of the past couple of years, many have been surprised by the amount of deal activity. But, having scaled back during the crisis, they’re finding that local rivals are winning more business. Dominic O’Neill reports.

CAPITAL MARKETS IN central and eastern Europe remained moribund for many months after buoyant issuance had returned in western Europe and north America. However, since the second half of 2009, primary markets for bonds and equity have gradually reopened in such countries as Russia and Poland.

As good news in central and eastern Europe’s financial press becomes more frequent, government finance worries have grown in western Europe. The plight of Greece, for example, has made states such as Hungary, which required an IMF bailout in 2008, look relatively healthy and conservatively managed. Investors have returned to central and eastern Europe, in some cases because they perceive that they can get a better reward for risk than in more highly rated but indebted states in western Europe.

Russia’s stock market index roughly doubled in value in 2009 and the CECE index of Polish, Czech and Hungarian stocks has recovered about half of the value it lost in 2008. More mergers and acquisitions are looking possible, with CVC’s $3 billion acquisition of the central European assets of Belgian brewer InBev last autumn being the standard-bearer.

Issuance volume in the region’s equity markets in the first three months of 2010 was more than twice the 2009 quarterly average, according to Dealogic.

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