PKO Expands Stock Coverage as Credit Suisse, KBC Cut Operations

PKO Bank Polski SA, Poland’s biggest bank, will expand its stock research to cover companies outside its home market as foreign competitors are scaling down operations in central Europe’s largest economy.

PKO’s brokerage is looking for an analyst to cover the biggest stocks in Austria, the Czech Republic and Hungary, Managing Director Grzegorz Zawada said at a news conference in Warsaw today. The fourth-largest broker on the Warsaw Stock Exchange, which has eight equity analysts, will increase coverage to about 60 companies this year from about 40.

“It’s a good time to strengthen our position while our rivals get weaker,” Zawada said. “We want to sell knowledge and to become a regional brokerage house.”

Credit Suisse Group AG (CSGN) moved its Polish equity trading to London from Warsaw while KBC Securities NV’s Polish branch halted its retail brokerage, institutional sales, market making, research and corporate finance this month after turnover on the country’s stock exchange slumped.

Stock trading volumes slumped 24 percent to 202.9 billion zloty ($64 billion) in Warsaw last year amid Europe’s financial crisis and slowing economic growth in Poland.

The Warsaw exchange is central Europe’s biggest equity market, listing 438 companies on its main market with a combined value of 698 billion zloty.

PKO shares gained less than 0.1 percent to 32.73 zloty at 1:33 p.m. in Warsaw, trimming this year’s drop to 11 percent. The Polish government is the bank’s biggest shareholder with a 31 percent stake.

To contact the reporter on this story: Piotr Bujnicki in Warsaw at pbujnicki@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Wojciech Moskwa at wmoskwa@bloomberg.net

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