Eastern Europe Adopts Investor Culture

Views on BG | November 27, 2002, Wednesday // 00:00| Views: | Comments: 0

AFP

Inheritors of collectivist economies, the former communist countries of southeastern Europe are rather slowly adopting "shareholder" culture, essential to attract much-needed foreign investments.

"Shareholder culture is a novelty" for the ex-communist countries in southeastern Europe, stressed Alyssa Machold, a World Bank economist, during a recent round table on corporate governance in the region organised by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the World Bank.

The countries in the region, in the transition to capitalism, have achieved good results but they are "far below" compared with the performance of countries where the companies are better-governed, like the Czech Republic or Poland, said Rainer Geiger, deputy director of the OECD's directorate for financial, fiscal and enterprise affairs.

International financial institutions are thus pointing, among others, towards Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia and Bosnia-Hercegovina, which suffer "lack of transparency" in both ownership and governance of shareholding companies.

In Romania "financial investment funds are composed of directors who are deputies and senators in the parliament," warned Angela Ionita, also a member of a Romanian investment fund.

She emphasised the need to exclude civil servants from the boards.

"Step by step, the civil servants have to be excluded from serving as directors," she said.
According to Boyan Belev, Bulgarian investment holding companies "have turned out to be among the major abusers of shareholder rights."
"They are already entrenched in the status quo and are likely to strongly resist efforts to reform corporate governance," stressed Belev, a Bulgarian economist.

Organisation of shareholder companies in Croatia was also criticized in a recent World Bank report.
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