* Exchange has gone through number of strategies and CEOs
* GPW’s tie-up plan with main rival Vienna bourse failed in 2014
* Focus of new acting CEO on winning foreign listings
By Anna Koper
WARSAW, May 17 (Reuters) - The Warsaw exchange, GPW , the biggest in central and eastern Europe, will focus on winning foreign listings and is on track to set a record value for initial public share offerings by private firms this year, the bourse’s new head said.
The bourse, with market capitalisation of 1.35 trillion zlotys ($355 billion) competes mostly with the Vienna stock exchange with listed companies worth 137 billion euros ($151 billion).
Since the start of the year, the index of the 20 biggest and most liquid companies, WIG20, has gained over 20 percent.
“In 2017-2019, we should focus on promoting GPW on the local markets and attracting companies from Slovakia, Czech Republic, Belarus, but also from Austria and other countries,” Jaroslaw Grzywinski, GPW’s acting CEO said in a recent interview with Reuters.
Grzywinski was appointed a temporary CEO of the bourse in mid March for no longer than three months. The bourse shareholders will by then decide whether he or a different candidate will take the post permanently.
An unsuccessful merger attempt in 2014 by the Warsaw Stock Exchange with the Vienna bourse has prompted the Polish state-controlled bourse to change its focus.
GPW had been in talks to merge with CEE Stock Exchange Group, the owner of the Vienna bourse and smaller exchanges in Prague, Budapest and Ljubljana, to strengthen its position against Frankfurt and London.
“After this unsuccessful attempt to merge with the Vienna bourse we do not foresee any capital alliances with the regional bourses in the nearest future,” Grzywinski, GPW’s fourth CEO since 2013, said.
The bourse has been trying to recover following a massive retreat of investors after pension funds reform. The uncertainty of a 2015 parliamentary election that brought the nationalist minded Law and Justice (PiS) party to power added to nervousness and the exchange is only now showing signs of a revival.
Analysts attribute the surge to investors looking for profits in the low-interest rate environment with political risks diminished as the government, for example, pulled back from plans to force banks to convert Swiss franc mortgages into zlotys.
Grzywinski said that policies, such as a planned transfer of only 25 percent of the private pension funds assets, and not all as feared, to a state-run investment vehicle, as well as loose monetary policy on global markets, stand behind the growth.
($1 = 3.7984 zlotys)
$1 = 0.9045 euros Writing by Agnieszka Barteczko; Editing by Lidia Kelly and Elaine Hardcastle