Monday, 15 July 2019

Just How Interesting are Companies with Seats in Croatia to Investors?

As Novac/Viktor Vresnik writes on the 15th of July, 2019, Axel Kalinowski, director of the London Stock Exchange for Central and Southern Europe, has been working hard for years with representatives of Croatia's market as part of his task of building a bridge between the new Europe and London as the centre of global financial and capital flow.

Novac and Kalinowski talked at the Esplanade Hotel in Zagreb, where he was Deloitte's main guest at a capital market conference.

The Croatian market is very small, even if we look at it together with the Slovenian market. Does it make sense to have a local stock market in such a market?

''This is a question that is constantly being repeated, and can be put everywhere in Europe. Every European country today has its own stock market. Some have more of them, such as Germany, where there are seven, though, despite the size of the market, the capital market culture is in fact not significantly developed.

Our idea is to concentrate activity and regulation in one place. It's a job I've been dealing with for a while. European and even Croatian companies don't compete solely on local markets, they're also struggling for their place on the regional and global markets.

The lack of strategic capability for access to funds on a large capital market can be considered a handicap compared to the companies whose access to that is secured, which are therefore far more liquid and ready for investment exploits. Europe must do everything in its power to make it easier for its companies to access money sources.

These aren't just capital markets, there are also a variety of alternative funding methods that diversify the traditional ways of collecting money. Europe is too bank-oriented. Banks are, of course, important, but when they become the main source of capital, then that becomes dangerous.''

London is a huge market, one of the largest in the world, and the most important in Europe. Can it keep hold of that position after Brexit?

"It depends on what sort of Brexit we have in the end. Only then will we understand how close our relationship will be.

The London Stock Exchange has always been very closely connected with the continental part of Europe. We're a very European organisation, we are the owners of the Italian Stock Exchange, parts of the French market... I think Brexit will ultimately not prove crucial to our business. The London Stock Exchange is over 200 years old, older than the very first idea of ​​the European Union.

It has always been one of the world's largest markets. If London loses out on the EU's political map, it doesn't mean that it will come out of the market. Europeans will then use the London Stock Exchange as one of the overseas markets on which their companies are listed. Such a separation is probably a mistake, but I don't think that it will harm the position of London as a global capital and finance centre in the end.''

Could Brexit actually be good for London because it puts a strong market in the position of being on neutral ground?

"We already have the opportunity to see some companies which list their shares in London, even though they're already on one of the world's major stock exchanges. We mustn't forget that today, money plays a big role on the market, money from the Middle East, from Asia... for them, London has always been a neutral point, unburdened by European political turmoil. In the long run, Brexit could really boost London towards the position of an actual global market. It's difficult to foresee what the situation will be in the short term. Anything can happen in that respect.''

Does Trump's chaotic US economic policy help you there?

''There's no doubt that his sentences often have an impact on the US market, and everything that affects the US market then has a global impact. We've noticed that the interests of North American companies for the London Stock Exchange have become significantly higher over the last few years.

I don't think that's just because of politics, I think it's more about structural issues. The London market is more neutral, internationalisation is more mature when talking about medium and small businesses. The American market is huge, but it's oriented towards the largest corporations like Google, Facebook, Amazon... If you're small, you can quickly get sucked up there. The London market is not marked by these megatranslations, but it has the most stable flow of money in both large and small companies. The ecosystem in London is far more sophisticated and more lively than that of New York. We offer a better environment for middle business, and they have recognised that fact.''

What exactly is your job as the head of the Eastern European Division of the LSE?

''Today, around 2,200 companies are listed on the London Stock Exchange and they come from 110 different countries.

We're trying to strengthen our presence in areas where we don't think we've fully exploited the potential and where there are opportunities for companies to better understand what the capital market is. We think that this part of the world, Middle, Eastern and Southern Europe, isn't yet sufficiently serviced.

The market culture here lags behind other parts of Europe. We're trying to build a bridge that will link local companies to global investors. That's my role. To help companies understand the role, as well as the capability of capital markets, as well as numerous other, alternative business financing opportunities. Break the fear of ''big'' London, which people who sit far from the centre sometimes make out is a big, weird, dangerous place, full of predatory banks and institutions.''

The London market has strict rules, many companies fail, nor do they want to play under those rules...

''Yes, the rules are firm and have been being applied like that for a long time now, but I think the fear of such an approach on the continent is exaggerated. London is, above all, a place of great networking and exchange of ideas. It's a meeting point.''

Which markets have you recognised as the most developed in the part of Europe for which you're in charge?

''It's an exciting region, a region that, at growth rates, suggests a potential that is bigger than the one in old Europe, where the lowest growth rate is still considered good today.

That's why new Europe is more interesting to investors than old Europe is I think the people from this region suffer from the prejudice that the global investor community is't interested in it. That's wrong.

That is wrong here in Croatia, too, where many aren't interested in London investors as they're based in Croatia. It's true that companies in the vicinity of Croatia have recognised the opportunity use the London market very successfully. Romania has an excellent privatiaation program, and their privatisation agency is listed on the London Stock Exchange. There are a large number of large, formerly state-owned companies which are listed on the exchanges in Bucharest and in London. Slovenia has recently listed the new Ljubljana bank in London, which we consider to have been a success, as well as the selling off of Serbian bonds at historically low interest rates...''

Two large Croatian companies, Pliva and Zaba, left the London Stock Exchange because it did not pay for them to be there...

''This has happened a long time ago, today things are different, the stock market offers far more opportunities than it did before and we're more open to different types of companies.

There are several different segments of the market with different standards. AIM, a market oriented towards small and medium-sized companies, has very simple standards today, all of which aare aligned with the needs of the investor.

There is no minimum threshold for listing, and given the fact that we're talking about new companies here, we don't investigate their financial history. Even on the regular market today, we have a split into two segments. The standard segment follows the rules of the EU, which apply to most European markets, and even in Croatia, only the premium segment applies the specific rules of the United Kingdom which, I would say, are at a more strict level than the continental ones are.

However, this regulation is based on good business practice, which is significantly different from that of the US, where strict rules must absolutely be followed. Our philosophy is different. If you don't abide by any of the rules that have been set, you must be given the opportunity to explain why that is. If that's acceptable to investors and regulators, then it can be adopted.''

Make sure to follow our dedicated business page for more information on doing business in Croatia, investing and investment in Croatia, working in Croatia, Croatia's alignment with the EU's business rules, and much more.

Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Valamar Invests 280 Million Kuna in First Large 5 Star Camp

Despite the rather unpromising weather that marked May and the very beginning of June, at the beginning of the month, Valamar's new camp received more than 1,500 guests, most of whom were Germans and Austrians.

As Borivoje Dokler/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 19th of June, 2019, at the beginning of the month in Funtana, a Croatian village seven kilometres away from Poreč, the Istra Premium Camping Resort opened its doors to the public.

This is the first large Valamar five-star camp, which stretches across 37 hectares of land and can accommodate as many as 2,781 guests at any one time. Over the past two years, 280 million kuna has been invested into the project, making this, along with the five-star Valamar Collection Marea Suites, the most significant project for Valamar this year. Booking is going excellently and on the day ''camp opening day'', scheduled for the 27th of June, the camp will operating at full capacity.

Most of the guests appear to come from Germany and Austria, although it's still somewhat difficult to grasp the exact structure of guests to this Valamar facility. This camp, with its wide choice of luxury accommodation, can satisfy even the most demanding guests, from those looking for a nice plot facing the Adriatic sea, a modern camping home, to those wanting a luxury camping villa with its own private pool.

As far as prices are concerned, Valamar offers plots ranging from as little as 15 to as much as 119 euros, and when it comes to luxury accommodation, prices range from 58 to 567 euros. For example, for a glamping tent with a fully equipped kitchen, bathroom and two bedrooms during the peak tourist season, it's necessary to allocate around 250 euros per day, while renting out the most expensive Camping Villas which can accommodate up to six people, you're looking at a price tag of above 500 euros.

The camp has a large number of entertainment facilities for children, of which Aquamar is particularly well known, it's a family water park with five pools and water attractions covering a total water surface of 1,030 square metres.

What is particularly refreshing about Valamar's new project is the large indoor entertainment zone with various playrooms, children's clubs and a large theater. The games are equipped with the Super Mario program and are adapted for children under three years of age, and then from three to seven and then seven to twelve years old.

In the centre of the camp is the central Piazza square (trg), which hosts the ''Musi&Fun'' program each and every night, and is surrounded by a number of small specialised shops and bars. Although they offer mostly high-quality products, the prices here don't really differ all that much from those you'd see in regular stores.

Up to now, Valamar has invested an enormous 5.8 billion kuna in Croatian tourism. Within the three-year growth and development strategy, a total of 2.5 billion kuna has been invested into its tourism portfolio, and more than 3 billion kuna has been invested in the expansion of the company's operations and acquisitions.

Make sure to follow our dedicated travel page for much more.

Thursday, 13 June 2019

Bušljeta and Klemm Invest 5 Million Euros in Nomad Bar, Zrće

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 13th of June, 2019, the owners of the internationally famous beach clubs Blue Marlin and Nikki Beach want to open their first Croatian franchise in Novalja, at no less than Zrće beach.

In just one week, Croatia's famous Zrće beach is set to get a large new gastronomic-music club for adults over the age of 25.

This refers to club Nomad which will be jointly opened by the owner of the nearby club Papaya, Ivan Bušljeta, and Josip Klemm, at the site of the former Aquarius.

As has already been reported, the duo purchased Aquarius in spring this year, and back in March, they founded the company Projekt (Project) Nomad, building a new club.

As Bušljeta revealed, this new investment is worth about five million euros, and the club combines a combination of top-quality gastronomic services, deep-house, house, techno, tech house and other disco music with a relaxed club atmosphere.

When it comes to the actual design of the club, the duo were inspired by the style of those on the populat Greek island of Mykonos, and those responsible for the design and the realisation of it are Leskovar and Mi2 studio, and the club, according to Bušljeta, is undergoing its final stages, and because of that, no photographs of the progress are currently available.

Zrće beach's brand new club will operate as a beach bar, a restaurant and a nightclub with a two-hour cabaret show that will be held every night during the tourist season. Nomad will officially open at the Island Gathering Festival, which will be held in late June in cooperation with BSH events and Tanzen Kollektiv.

Nomad's owners have revealed that this is just be the beginning of the transformation of the famous (or infamous, as the case may be) Zrće beach.

Make sure to follow our dedicated travel and lifestyle pages for much more.

Wednesday, 5 June 2019

Capitol Park: British Investors Building Shopping Centre in Križevci

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Jadranka Dozan/Sergej Novosel Vuckovic writes on the 4th of June, 2019, the continental Croatian town of Križevci is set to get a shopping destination covering more than 4,000 square metres this autumn under the title of Capitol Park Križevci, and new retail jobs for the local population will be opened, both in retail itself and in the initial construction of the premises.

The news about this investment was initially announced by Podravski List recently, citing unofficial information that the investor, the British investment group Poseidon, will invest about 15 million kuna into the shopping centre.

This British company, which deals with investment, development and real estate management in the business, housing and tourism sector, has expressed no desire to comment on the as yet unofficial figures in regard to the investment itself. It neither confirms nor denies the aforementioned figure. But they were happy to point out that Križevci will get a brand new shopping park that will "eventually employ more than fifty people, thus stimulating the local economy".

With the Križevci project, they say, they are continuing to expand their retail portfolio by strengthening the brand of Capitol Park in South East Europe. Most of the investments outside of their domestic market are directed precisely towards countries that make up the former Yugoslavia; including Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Here in Croatia, both Makarska and Split have gained Capitol Park's much earlier on, and the British company has now announced that they will open five more such centres next year.

The completion of the up and coming Križevci premises will be carried out in two different phases, the first being opened in August (with Spar instead of Konzum), and the second a bit later on, in October. The location in Križevci, which is more precisely located on Smičiklasova ulica, was allegedly purchased from Raiffeisen Bank by Poseidon, according to a report from Podravski list. The British company apparently aims to change the shopping centre concept considerably.

Instead of Konzum as the principal tenant along with a few of the other ''usual suspects'' such as Muller, names like Spar and Bipa will occupy the space, and they're counting on New Yorker too, among other well known retail names.

Britain's Poseidon Investment Group's investment portfolio of around 1.2 billion euros is highlighted on its web page. In the area of ​​shopping malls under the brand Capitol Park in Southeast Europe, its portfolio exceeds 60,000 square metres, and in planning and construction there are more than 400 residential buildings

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