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Bucharest Exchange Seeks to Buy Regional Bourse Stakes, CEO Says

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April 21 (Bloomberg) -- The Bucharest Stock Exchange wants to buy stakes in east European bourses, as part of a plan to overtake the Prague and Budapest exchanges in the next two years, Chief Executive Officer Valentin Ionescu said.

The Romanian exchange plans to spend 5 million euros ($7.3 million) this year on majority or minority stakes in other bourses, possibly in Albania, Bulgaria, Moldova or Serbia, Ionescu said in a phone interview today.

“We seek regional expansion, so as to become a noteworthy exchange in two to three years,” he said. “Look at the Vienna exchange, which has built a common platform for central Europe. I say, why can’t we do the same for eastern Europe?”

The Bucharest exchange’s market capitalization stands at about 29 billion euros, while Vienna bourse’s CEE Stock Exchange Group, which includes holdings in the Ljubljana, Budapest and Prague exchanges, is valued at 157 billion euros. The Warsaw Stock Exchange, the most active bourse in the post-communist region after Moscow, is worth 218 billion euros.

Bucharest’s benchmark BET Index has risen 13 percent so far this year. Budapest, too, has climbed 13 percent. Prague and Warsaw are up 1.6 percent and 6.4 percent, respectively.

East European countries are set to expand twice as fast as the eurozone this year after their worst recession in two decades, according to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

To contact the reporters on this story: Irina Savu in Bucharest at isavu@bloomberg.net; Andra Timu in Bucharest at atimu@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James M. Gomez at jagomez@bloomberg.net

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