Experts say closer ties will increase the flow of capital in the Balkans.
By Miki Trajkovski for Southeast European Times in Skopje -- 26/06/2014
CThe Bulgarian stock exchange joined the Macedonian and Croatian stock exchanges in forming a joint company based in Skopje. [AFP]
A decision by Macedonia, Bulgaria and Croatia to link their stock exchanges is expected to make their work more efficient and attract more capital to the region. The three stock markets established a joint company based in Skopje with the hopes that other stock exchanges in the region will also join.
"The idea is to create a common platform that will enable redirection of the trading orders from the Zagreb and Sofia stock exchanges to the Macedonian stock exchange and vice versa," Ivan Shteriev, chief executive officer of the Macedonian stock exchange in Skopje, told SETimes.
"We believe regional securities that way will increase their attractiveness in the Balkans and beyond."
Shteriev said mostly domestic investors have so far traded stocks, and enabling institutional networking with other regional markets has become a priority.
The move will create a direct channel through which brokers will monitor what happens in other stock markets and will increase investors' interest, which used to be dependent on collaboration among brokers, he added.
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development will finance the purchasing of software that will link the stock markets and create a common website. The move will increase liquidity and increase the visibility and attractiveness of the three capital markets, said Sanda Kuhtic Nalis, spokeswoman for the Zagreb Stock Exchange.
"Consolidation of the capital markets is an inevitable trend. Investors are looking for simplicity, and fragmentation of the regional capital markets is certainly an aggravating circumstance," Nalis told SETimes.
Nalis also said the next phase will include developing the infrastructure for exchange of stock orders.
The move will simplify investment, because Croatian investors, for example, can discuss investments in the other two countries with a broker in Zagreb, said Iztok Likar, editor of hrportfolio.com, a popular financial portal in Croatia.
"Investors need common stocks that they will be able to trade from all of these countries, because that way they will more easily approach investment opportunities in the region," Likar told SETimes.
The tendency is to attract investors on a regional basis, said Ivan Takev, director of the Bulgarian stock exchange.
"Simplicity, efficiency and engagement of all stakeholders ensures success of this project," Takev said.
The Istanbul stock exchange, the largest in the region, supports increased regional connections among the stock markets and is ready to co-operate, said Cetin Donmez, executive vice president of the Istanbul stock exchange.
"Regarding co-operation among regional markets, we can also add global players," Donmez said.
Correspondent Kruno Kartus in Osijek contributed to this report.
What can Balkan countries do to further increase co-operation among the stock exchanges? Share your opinion in the comments section.