The Zagreb Stock Exchange (ZSE) has honoured the contribution of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) to the development of local capital markets with special recognition at the bourse’s annual awards ceremony in Zagreb today.
Ivana Gažić, President of the ZSE Management Board, said: “We have worked very closely with the EBRD for several years now and the Bank’s proactive, hands-on approach continues to please and impress us. The EBRD has been a driving force in numerous programmes and at the same time a source of many more initiatives and ideas. What they all have in common is the determination to develop capital markets as tools to supply the real economy with the means to prosper and grow.”
Accepting the award on behalf of the EBRD, Vedrana Jelušić Kašić, Director, Regional Head of Croatia, Hungary, Slovak Republic and Slovenia, commented: “We are grateful for, and honoured by, this recognition. It means a lot to us to be honoured by an important and widely recognised institution such as the Zagreb Stock Exchange. For us this represents an appeal to double our efforts in the coming years and we are looking forward to further cooperation.”
The EBRD started investing in Croatia after the country’s independence and to date has invested €3.6 billion in 191 projects. Over the years the EBRD’s engagement has evolved in line with the country’s needs and capital development now represents one of the main objectives. In January 2016 the Bank acquired a 5.2 per cent stake in ZSE. Also this year, the EBRD participated in a HRK 1.8 billion, seven-year, local bond issue of Zagreb Holding with HRK 44.6 million.
These investments were accompanied by numerous activities aimed at developing capital markets in Croatia, such as the creation and development of SEE Link, a regional platform for securities trading which was started by the Bulgarian, Croatian and Macedonian stock exchanges.
The EBRD also secured technical assistance for ZSE to assess the feasibility of establishing an exchange-operated regional market for the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Croatia. In essence, this would be a new financing platform for SMEs that would aim to increase their access to local capital markets and create a regional financing platform for the sector. The SME growth market platform is supported by technical assistance from the TaiwanBusiness - EBRD Technical Cooperation Fund.
In addition, the EBRD secured support from its own Shareholder Special Fund for the provision of consultancy services to Funderbeam South-East Europe (SEE), an innovative crowdfunding platform for start-up companies that is based on blockchain technology. Funderbeam SEE is a joint venture of Funderbeam and the Zagreb Stock Exchange, which own 80 per cent and 20 per cent, respectively.
The EBRD is also supporting the development of capital markets through policy dialogue. In cooperation with the Croatian Ministry of Finance, Croatia’s National Bank and the Croatian regulator HANFA the EBRD is supporting an initiative aimed at the introduction of covered bonds. The work includes the development of the institutional framework, including a draft law in liaison with the authorities and key stakeholders.
André Küüsvek, EBRD Director, Local Currency and Capital Markets Development, said: “The development of local capital markets is and remains a priority for our Bank. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the team and Zagreb Stock Exchange on what has already been achieved. We are confident that before long we will be able to launch new programmes and initiatives.”