RANKING COFACE CEE TOP 500 COMPANIES
The year 2015 brought a good mix of conditions for Central and Eastern Europe. Average GDP growth for the CEE region was 3.3% in 2015, after 2.6% in 2014. Economies benefited from rising domestic demand. This included both, growing private consumption, supported by declining
unemployment and growing wages, and increasing investments in most economies. Important support came from EU funds which CEE countries were efficient users of in the final year of validity of the ‘old’ EU budget. At the same time, CEE countries remained active exporters focusing on Eurozone enjoying a GDP growth of 1.6% and looking for new markets.
The CEE Top 500 ranks the 500 biggest companies in the region by turnover.These top players increased their turnover by 4.2% to nearly 593 billion EUR and enlarged their staff by 0.5%. Overall 4.3% of the total labor force in the region is employed by the companies of the CEE Top 500 which has a positive effect on unemployment rates. The ongoing upward trend was also recorded by the majority of the sectors in the CEE Top 500. Twelve out of thirteen sectors increased their turnover compared to the previous year. Strong rises were achieved by textiles, leather & clothing on +14.8% and automotive & transport on +10.3%. The only sector to see a decrease in its turnover was minerals, chemicals, petroleum, plastics & pharma on -8.3%. Favorable business conditions extended into 2016. The forecast for the CEE region in 2016 is nearly on the same level as
2015 with an estimated average growth rate of 3.0%. A further improvement in the labor market and growing confidence will strengthen household consumption as the main growth driver of the CEE economies. The contribution of investments will not be as high as last year due to a slow start of new EU co-financed projects weakening the expansion of the construction sector and various other associated industries. On the external side CEE countries will remain active exporters, although the slowdown in global trade may hamper their ambitions.
I am pleased to welcome you to the CEE Top 500 ranking, our annual publication on the biggest companies in our region. We have become a major source for businesses in CEE and have now published the analysis for the eighth year in a row.
This time, I´m glad to be able to affirm the optimistic picture which we saw last year. The year 2015 brought a good mix of conditions for the CEE region, which is reflected in our study of the Top 500 companies. CEE economies benefited from an improving and favorable economic environment. Exports profited from a slow but gradual recovery of its main trading destination - the Eurozone, especially Germany, while a strong contribution came from domestic demand. Companies reported solid economic growth rates as well as more structured growth last year. Nearly 70% of companies in the ranking are enjoying a rise in turnover compared to 62% of the previous year.
The positive picture is confirmed by the acceleration in the average regional GDP growth rate from 2.6% in 2014 to 3.3% in 2015, with the Czech Republic taking the lead with an increase of 4.5%. Moreover, last year’s GDP result was the highest since the post-crisis level of 2009. The number of insolvencies decreased over the course of last year in nine out of 13 countries and the GDP-weighted regional insolvency average was -14%.
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