The last year has clearly been a turbulent one, and this has been reflected in the market conditions in the CEE region and more widely. The Russian invasion of Ukraine and its implications for the energy markets, as well as rising inflation, ongoing trade tensions, and the general slowdown of global economic activity, have had a profound impact on all major equity and debt markets over the course of the last year, with market participants facing tight and volatile financing conditions and a rising cost of funds.
Unsurprisingly, given their geographic and economic proximity to the conflict, CEE capital markets were no exception. Across the CEE region, corporate bond volumes were down in 2022, reflecting a broader European trend, with sovereign, supranational, and financial institution issuers being the most prominent among those accessing the market. On the equity side, the market for IPOs remained largely closed, and significant secondary fundraisings were also rare. The outlook for 2023 is more positive, with many hoping that the second half of the year will bring more stable credit conditions and greater financing opportunities, particularly for higher-grade corporates.
This guide sets out an overview of key requirements for equity and debt offerings across the CEE region and has been prepared in cooperation with experienced professionals recognized as key capital markets practitioners in each jurisdiction. The guide is intended to provide a high-level overview of the regulatory and listing regime (including regulated and non-regulated markets) and the typical offering process for equity and debt securities in a concise and consistent format across the various jurisdictions. In addition, the guide highlights ongoing continuing obligations and a brief summary of ESG considerations applicable to issuers.
While the focus of the guide remains the countries of CEE, we have (given London’s ongoing status as Europe’s major financial center) also included a UK section which hopefully serves as a useful reference point and summarises the regulatory regime in the UK for issuers considering a London listing of equity or debt securities. Despite current market conditions and the aftermath of Brexit, the UK continues to have strong public markets and the London Stock Exchange is one of the most active stock exchanges in Europe. Recent and forthcoming reforms to the UK’s capital markets ecosystem should help to unlock capital and attract more companies, including those in the CEE region, to list.
We hope that this guide will provide a useful introduction to the listing process and help signpost issuers towards the key issues to consider.