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Why investors love Poland

After two successful privatizations this summer, foreign investors have become highly enthusiastic about Polish stocks. And there's more to come: some 80 companies have applied to the SEC to issue shares before the end of the year, and 60 of these would be IPOs. Antony Currie reports.

What happened on July 15?

Foreign investors have been getting excited about Polish stocks this year. Not only is GDP growth in Poland (7% in the first quarter of this year) the best in central and eastern Europe, but the stock market has developed into one of the region's most liquid, with a large retail as well as institutional investor base. Poland also managed to stave off a Czech- or Thai-style attack on its currency from foreign speculators this summer.

But the main reason for foreign investors' excitement was two big privatizations that came to the market within three weeks of each other this summer. First was the IPO of Bank Handlowy w Warsawy, followed three weeks later by KGHM, the seventh-largest copper-producing mine in the world.

Too much for the market?

Together they represented an increase of $1 billion in the stock exchange's market capitalization. By comparison, $3 billion had been added in the first six months of the year, mostly through the listing of national investment funds (which hold stakes in smaller state-owned enterprises now being privatized). There had been few problems with such a gradual increase, but some were concerned that $1 billion from two issues within three weeks would be too much for the market.

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