UniCredit seeks local investors for Poland's bourse

The company announced plans to "establish a presence in Israel" in order to assist investors to expand into Europe.

unicredit bw 88 224 (photo credit: Courtesy )
unicredit bw 88 224
(photo credit: Courtesy )
UniCredit Markets & Investment Banking, a leading European investment bank, which will soon be opening its first office in Tel Aviv, said on Sunday that is planning to bring at least six Israeli companies to make offerings on the Warsaw Stock Exchange. The company announced plans to "establish a presence in Israel" in order to assist Israeli investors to expand into Central and Eastern Europe. As part of the announcement, a top delegation of senior UniCredit management arrived in Israel for a business reception in Tel Aviv on Sunday evening, an event expected to draw Israeli business leaders and UniCredit's Israeli clients. "I would not be surprised if we can attract at least half a dozen Israeli companies to the Warsaw Stock Exchange in 2008," said Jaroslaw Jan Derylo, co-head of Investment Banking at UniCredit Markets & Investment Banking in an interview with The Jerusalem Post. "UniCredit provides an alternative to Nasdaq and the UK's AIM, giving Israeli companies an opportunity to go public on the Warsaw Stock Exchange where they benefit from high level of investor interest, higher valuations and better liquidity relative to other global exchanges." In recent years, Warsaw has been growing into a regional market for IPOs of Israeli developers and companies in the construction industries. Currently there are four Israeli real estate companies traded on the Warsaw exchange which are Ronson Europe NV; Plaza Centers NV, a subsidiary of Elbit Medical Imaging Ltd; Global Trade Center Poland SA, and Cinema City International NV. "Investors are a bit satiated with real estate companies and they are becoming much more selective but we see much potential for Israeli companies in the fields of infrastructure, industry and alternative industry," Derylo said. UMIB, which is present in 39 countries and employs close to 3,500 employees, has a strong presence in central and eastern Europe, and in particular in Warsaw, where the bank was instrumental in taking several Israeli companies public onto the WSE and offering M&A or financing services. Pioneer Investments, UniCredit's Hedge Funds and Mutual Funds arm, has been present in Israel since 2002 after acquiring the Momentum Hedge Fund business. The bank added that business activity between the two countries was expected to grow as Israel was recently listed as one of Poland's 10 most desired countries to develop strategic relations with. "UniCredit Markets & Investment Banking has global and wide ranging sector expertise and experience in working with Israeli companies in sectors including: real estate, consumer goods, retail, media, telecom and industrial," said Alicja Kornasiewicz, Head of UMIB in Poland. "Israel has the potential of becoming a global financial centre for UniCredit's investment banking activities." Derylo added that the bank also saw much potential of Polish companies coming to invest in Israel, seeking in particular to take advantage of the local talent and the hi-tech industry. Last year, 12 foreign companies listed on the WSE, generating a total IPO value of €3.6b., increasing the number of foreign companies traded on the WSE to 23 companies. On the whole, a record 81 companies debuted on the main market of the WSE in 2007 compared with 34 companies in 2006. The value of IPOs in 2007 reached a record high of €5.05b. In 2008, the WSE board expects 70 companies to list on the exchange. "Everyone who is a foreign company with international management is a darling attracting much enthusiasm and interest from Polish investors," said Derylo. "There are cultural and historical connections the two countries share. Many Israeli and Polish businessmen established their businesses under very difficult circumstances and times and they grow as if there was no tomorrow." UniCredit Group prides itself as the Equity Capital Markets leader on the WSE, having participated since 2004 as bookrunner or in other significant roles in 42 equity offerings raising more than €3.9b. In the second half of 2007, the exchange launched the NewConnect market, an alternative trading system, outside of the regulated market, which provides a platform for financing and secondary trading for small and medium sized companies with high growth potential. Yaakov Lappin contributed to this report.