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Banking

Emerging Europe: Poland's biggest bank comes into its own

As the government sells part of its stake in PKO BP, Poland’s biggest bank is benefiting from the troubles of rivals with their eurozone-based parents. Euromoney speaks to PKO BP’s chief executive about acquisitions and growth in new areas, such as investment banking and wealth management

Although it was a bad year for the European Union in 2011, it was a relatively good one for the EU’s biggest recent entrant, Poland. Prime minister Donald Tusk occupied the rotating presidency of the EU in the second half of 2011 and defeated the populist opposition leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski in elections in October. Poland might again have the opportunity to shine by comparison with a dull neighbour in 2012. This summer it co-hosts the European football championships with Ukraine, a country increasingly ostracized by the EU and by international markets.

If the German economy sneezes, Poland’s exports catch a cold. But at least now Poland has a government with a grown-up attitude to foreign relations, as well as to its economy and financial sector. The first re-election in 20 years of an incumbent government also means more stability in senior management at the state-owned firms that still dominate important areas of Poland’s economy, including energy and banking. Tusk’s re-election should underpin the planned sale on the Warsaw Stock Exchange of up to 15% of Poland’s biggest bank, PKO Bank Polski.

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