The phrases “south Balkan nation” and “ease of doing business” are mutually exclusive in the minds of many western business leaders. But in case you hadn’t noticed, Macedonia, the most southerly of the former Yugoslavia successor states, came in at number 23 in the latest World Bank Doing Business rankings.
Unsurprisingly, it was something Nikola Gruevski, Macedonia’s prime minister (pictured), was keen to emphasise during an official visit Budapest. Continue reading »
A third of the population is below the poverty line and unemployment is running at more than 30 per cent. Macedonia is one of the poorest countries in Europe. That hasn’t stopped the government running a concerted and doubtless expensive campaign to promote the country as an investment destination – and as a regional poster boy for economic reform.
The tiny country of just over 2m people is indeed outperforming some of its neighbours. But translating this into job creation has proved difficult. Continue reading »
By Philip Alexander of the Banker
When Alpha Bank (ALPHA:ATH) and EFG Eurobank Ergasias (EUROB:ATH), the second and third-largest Greek banks, unveiled a merger plan in August, it was widely hailed as the first good news out of the Athens banking sector for a long time.
The move would create the country’s largest bank by some distance, strengthen Greek banking, and bolster the Greek bank presence in the Balkans, where some countries rely heavily on Greek finance.
But now Alpha has warned that it is having second thoughts about the deal.
Continue reading »
The eurozone crisis might have left south-eastern Europe in an economic doldrums since 2009 but that has not stopped one company from seeking its fortunes in the region.
Tobacco AD, a fast-growing Macedonian convenience store chain, is betting that even in these times of financial austerity, people will continue to drink, smoke and pay their utility bills.
The Skopje-based company, with 55 stores open already in the former Yugoslav republic, is planning to raise €2m via an initial public offering to fund its expansion around the western Balkans. Continue reading »
With the eurozone in crisis, the small states of the Western Balkans are bracing themselves for another round of pain without gain. For the immediate future, their economic destiny of will be almost totally out of their own hands.
So warns the World Bank in a report released on Tuesday. Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia – dubbed “SEE6” in Bank terminology – can expect to be bruised by every financial tremor in the eurozone and European Union. Continue reading »
While Greece agonises over slashing wages, its neighbour to the north has suffered a large share of the resulting pain.
Macedonia – the former Yugoslav republic, that is – has this week closed border crossings with Greece after repeated disruptions and re-routed all traffic through other countries instead. Before the Macedonian government took the decision, strikes by Greek customs officers left cross-border travellers and numerous cars and trucks stranded on one of the main Balkan access routes to the sea. Continue reading »