Polish companies clearly dominant on the list of Central and Eastern Europe’s largest companies – Poland has 176 representatives!
The guests of the Krynica Economic Forum were the first to see the European Top 500. Just as a year ago, the list was widely commented upon. It has been prepared based on data collected in 18 countries by Rzeczpospolita daily, in cooperation with Deloitte consultancy.
Companies ranked in the top ten increased their revenues by an average of 12 percent relative to 2006. In the case of the last 100 companies on the list, this result is much better, amounting to almost 20 percent growth. Companies from Serbia and the Baltic countries recorded the largest increases in sales. In Poland, this rate amounted to 17 percent, as compared with 15 percent in Slovakia, 13 percent in Hungary and 10 percent in the Czech Republic.
The number of Polish companies on the list has not changed relative to 2006 and the same thing can be said about the leader position of PKN Orlen. The top ten consists of four companies from Poland, two each from the Czech Republic and Hungary and one each from Ukraine and Slovakia. PKN Orlen is the leader in terms of revenues, but when it comes to net profits, the ranking looks quite different. Czech company CEZ recorded the highest profit of more than 1.5 billion euros, followed by Hungary’s MOL with 1.04 billion. Only one Polish firm managed to reach the barrier of 1 billion euros in net profits – KGHM Polska Miedź. PKN Orlen was ranked fifth in this category, preceded by one more company operating in Poland – ArcelorMittal.
There are several reasons behind the prominent position of Polish companies on the European Top 500 list – on the one hand this is a consequence of regional takeovers, such as those conducted by PKN Orlen or Ciech and on the other – the result of consolidation of energy firms (such as PKE, Tauron and Enea).
Public capital still plays an important role in the region – it is present in 121 companies, among which the state has a controlling stake in 49 Polish firms. There are still relatively few companies – only 71 – listed on the stock exchange and mainly operating in Poland. However, the Czech CEZ is the leader in terms of market capitalization.
The financial results of companies featured in the ranking indicate that the year 2007 has been a successful one and, at least so far, one can hardly talk of an economic slowdown in Central and Eastern Europe. However, a number of people believe, that the current year may not be quite as good. The forecast for global economic growth for this year stands at 2.7 percent, as compared with last year’s 3.7 percent. Nonetheless, the situation in the region is looking much better – growth in the region this year is expected to reach around 5 percent, down from 6 percent last year.
– Companies from the region have survived a much tougher situation at the end of the 1990s, therefore now they know that their only chance is to look ahead. It is already evident, that investment is increasingly directed to the south of Europe. In Western Europe everyone is happy when an economy is growing even much below 1 percent. In Poland and other countries of the region, the situation in this regard is considerably better – says Andrzej Sadowski, an expert for the Adam Smith Center think-tank.
Revenues of the 500 largest companies grew by an average of 12 percent when expressed in local currencies and by 15 percent in euro terms. Trade companies, such as Metro, Jeronimo Martins Dystrybucja, Carrefour or Tesco improved their results by an average of 18 percent.
– We are continuing to grow dynamically in the whole region, one of Metro’s strategic markets in Europe – says Renata Juszkiewicz, director of Metro AG’s Polish office. Growth of the automotive sector is also noteworthy – its revenues in the region reached 60 billion euros last year – thanks to the expansion of existing plants, as well as the opening of new ones. These were mainly built in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Last year, Kia Motor and PCA Slovakia alone boosted the sector’s revenues by almost 2.7 billion euros, also translating into 5700 new jobs. The situation could also change in Poland’s favour. As we reported earlier in Rzeczpospolita, Jiangling Motors Corp is to build its first plant in Poland at the cost of 1.2 bln USD, with the target of producing 400,000 cars per year. The Peugeot-Citroen group from France is also considering investing in an engine plant in Poland.