The FINANCIAL — “Bulgaria has seen a clear upward trend in its capital market in the past year and presents numerous promising investment opportunities,” EBRD First Vice President Phil Bennett told a conference focused on the development of Bulgarian capital markets in London on May 18.
Co-hosted by the EBRD and the Bulgarian Stock Exchange at the Bank’s Headquarters, the one-day event presented an outlook on the Bulgarian economy, capital market, investment opportunities and the top 10 listed companies to institutional investors and investment firms. The discussions focused on the current state of the market and on how to take it to the next level.
EBRD First Vice President Bennett welcomed the launch of the first Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) on the Sofia bourse, the Expat Bulgaria SOFIX UCIT ETF, and expressed the expectation that more ETFs will bring greater opportunities for diversification for local and international investors alike. He also welcomed the planned launch of the “SME Market”, an exchange for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to raise funds.
Mr Bennett added: “The EBRD is a powerful catalyst for foreign direct investment in countries where we invest and we will continue working closely with the Bulgarian authorities, the stock exchange and other partners to channel equity and private financial flows into the country’s economy.”
To date the EBRD invested over €3.6 billion in Bulgaria, with a record of €620 million in 2016 alone.
Ivan Takev, CEO of the Bulgarian Stock Exchange, said: “We at the Bulgarian Stock Exchange have exciting new projects in the pipeline that ultimately aim at better serving Bulgarian business. In the next months we will expand our portfolio of asset classes traded and bring transparency to markets where it currently does not exist. We will also be able to fill all remaining gaps in the capital raising process for all types of companies, ranging from early stage start-ups to mature listed national champions.”
The stock exchange is expecting a government bond listing and several private sector initial public offerings in 2017.
The Bulgarian Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Konstantin Dimitrov, added: “The launch of the “SME Market” would further stimulate exchanges and growth by encouraging the establishment of specialised platforms for trade in start-ups and innovative small and medium companies without prospectuses.”
In addition, in a move to enhance integration into global markets, the Bulgarian Stock Exchange became a founding member of the pioneering SEE Link, an innovative regional platform backed by the EBRD which presently links the Bulgarian, Macedonian, Croatian, Slovenian and Serbian bourses. SEE Link is providing the regional infrastructure for trading securities listed on these exchanges, allowing them to enjoy a strengthened outlook and greater, more efficient access to investors.
The upward trend in the Bulgarian capital markets is in line with the country’s robust economic growth, above the EU average. The EBRD expects Bulgarian economy to grow 3.2 per cent in 2017 and 3.0 in 2018.