The regional platform linking the Bulgarian, Croatian and Macedonia stock exchanges, SEE Link, became fully operational on March 29. The platform was unveiled at the annual conference of the Macedonian Stock Exchange in Skopje, when its order-routing system was launched.
The system is intended to increase liquidity and improve access for investors and local brokers, by creating a regional infrastructure for trading securities listed on the three bourses.
The new network will help integrate domestic stock markets with a combined equity market capitalisation of $30bn and will allow order routing of almost 400 stocks listed on the three bourses.
The three stock exchanges founded the SEE Link company in May 2014. The joint stock company is seated in Macedonia, with three exchanges holding an equal share in its ownership.
The project, which will contribute to the further development of local capital markets, was supported by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) with a grant of €540,000 in July 2014. Funding for the project was also provided by EBRD donors through the EBRD Shareholder Special Fund. In addition, participating stock exchanges extended €80,000 to SEE Link. The platform became operational after two and a half years of preparations in cooperation with the EBRD.
Twenty two stock exchange members from Macedonia, Bulgaria and Croatia are expected to connect to the platform and a total of 387 securities to be available for trading.
In addition, two blue-chip indices called SEE LinX and SEE LinX EWI will be introduced on April 1 to increase the visibility of regional markets. The indices will be composed of the ten most actively traded regional companies listed on the three participating exchanges: five from Croatia, three from Bulgaria and two from Macedonia.
“As the wave of exchange consolidation continues, smaller stock exchanges will be much stronger together. Technology will provide more efficient access for investors and local brokers to an integrated capital market, while allowing participating bourses to remain independent,” Andre Kuusvek, director for local currency and capital markets at the EBRD, said at the launch ceremony.
According to Kuusvek, the project is important from three aspects: it will contribute to further development of the capital markets, will enable regional integration and will introduce innovativeness on bourses in Southeast Europe.
“Regional integration is a necessity, and the SEE Link project is a true example of its benefits. It will certainly provide more efficient access for investors and local brokers, and more visibility for the region,” the Macedonian Stock Exchange’s CEO Ivan Steriev said.
According to Steriev, the project is important for Macedonia, as there is a need to attract foreign portfolio investments back to the Skopje bourse, which will also increase confidence among local investors.
The project will enable the three bourses to increase their turnover. Macedonian investors will be also able to invest in foreign securities, Steriev added.
The Bulgarian Stock Exchange’s CEO Ivan Takev has expressed confidence that “SEE Link will very soon begin to generate investment and development in the region and we strongly believe in the success of the platform.” The project will enable small bourses to develop into big markets, Takev added. The next step will be the exchange of bourses’ data, he said.
Takev stressed that this is only the first stage of the project and the aim is to attract other bourses from the region. The Belgrade and Ljubljana bourses have already expressed readiness to join the project.
We are looking forward to the platform’s geographical expansion, Kuusvek said.
Ivana Gazic, CEO of the Zagreb bourse, said that the interest from new exchanges and brokers in joining SEE Link is continuously growing and “we are looking forward to welcoming more new participants in the future.”
Asked about interest from Croatian and Bulgarian companies in investing in Macedonia, Takev and Gazic said that it would depend on local brokers’ recommendations as well as on the media. The media will play an important role in providing more information about companies, Gazic said.