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Vienna, Budapest Bourses Take First Step Toward Consolidation

Two deals announced last week brought further consolidation of European stock exchanges. In a deal reported to be worth Ft 8 billion (€31.2 million), an Austrian consortium completed the purchase of a 50.2% stake in the Budapest Stock Exchange Rt (BÉT) last Thursday.

The consortium consists of three Austrian banks, the Vienna stock exchange Wiener Börse AG (WBAG), and the consortium leader, locally registered but Austrian-owned HVB Bank Hungary Rt.

In another, separate development, Omhex AB, the biggest Nordic exchange company, agreed late last week to buy the National Stock Exchange of Lithuania. At a press conference to announce the BÉT deal last week, WBAG Chairman Stefan Zapotocky stated that as a result of the deal, the combined capitalization of the BÉT and WBAG could reach €100 billion within the next four years. Currently, the capitalization figures of the Austrian and Hungarian stock exchanges are €50 billion and €15 billion–€20 billion, respectively.

The deal makes HVB the biggest individual shareholder in the BÉT, with a 25.2% stake. Previously, the bank held 12.7%.

The stake was purchased from a group of Hungarian financial investors, led by Arago Investment Holding Rt.

According to statements from HVB and WBAG, the reasoning behind the deal was to establish an ownership structure that guarantees the long-term growth of the BÉT. Zapotocky said there are plans to draw other regional exchanges into the partnership, singling out Warsaw and Ljubljana in particular.

(BBJ 24.v.04)

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