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Southeastern Europe: Go south for long-term returns

Investors looking for attractive long-term return potential could do worse than look at bank stocks in southeastern Europe. That’s the conclusion of a recent report by Günther Hohberger and Gernot Jarny, banking analysts at Erste Bank in Vienna. Entitled South east European Banks: Boom or bust? the report looked at the banking sectors in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Montenegro, Romania and Serbia, and concluded that overall growth rates for banks in the emerging economies of southeastern Europe versus the more developed markets in central Europe will be higher for the next decade at least.

"We expect all south east European countries to make use of their catch-up potential, resulting in above-average growth for more than 10 years," says Jarny, adding that, in particular, strong deposit growth in the region over the coming years will ultimately help to mitigate any short-term funding concerns. "While deposits are already at a relatively high level in countries like the Czech Republic, in the emerging banking markets of south east Europe, a significant amount of money is still stored under mattresses. We expect commercial banks to continue to replace piggy banks as confidence in the banking markets rises."

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