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© wizzyfx dreamstime.com Electronics Production | December 10, 2012

Poland leads way in CEE

Poland remains in the lead holding 31.8% of the leading companies, with runner-up Ukraine chasing on with 15% knocking down Hungary to third with 13%.
Poland makes up the biggest proportion, namely 31.8%, of the Top 500 companies in Central and Eastern Europe, and thus retains its lead position unchanged compared to last year. In second place is Ukraine, which with 15.0% of the leading companies pushed Hungary (13.0%) into third place for the first time. Read more about the leaders in the country comparison.

1. Poland
With 31.8%, poland – as in previous years – yet again represents the biggest share of the top players in Central and Eastern Europe in 2011. the country closed in on the levels of 2010 (160) and 2008 (161) with 159 companies in the CEE top 500, having experienced a drop only in 2009 (142). the profit accounted for by the polish leading companies in the past year rose by 32.1%, putting the country in first place in this category. the same is also true of the employees in these companies: With an increase of 2.5% compared to the previous year, poland also defended first place in absolute numbers. Overall, 6% of all workers are employed in the polish companies of the CEE top 500. the country is therefore in second place, behind Lithuania (7.6%).

2011, like 2010, was a good year for the polish economy. At 4.3%, economic growth was still well above the average of the 27 EU member states (1.5%). the number of insolvencies rose by 10% from 2010 to 2011, but poland still has the lowest insolvency rate in the Central and Eastern European region of 0.03%.

However, the poor underlying economic conditions made themselves felt in poland in 2012: Gdp growth remained behind expectations while economic indicators gave cause for concern, as growth drivers are currently missing, unlike in 2010 and 2011. Wage adjustments remain below the rate of inflation, the zloty is strengthening against the euro, reducing exports to Germany – poland’s most important export market. Unlike in the crisis year of 2009, the government has not provided any growth incentives.

2. Ukraine
Ukraine, which first made it into the top three Central and Eastern European countries in 2010, moved up another place in 2011 to secure second place in the assessment. In 2010, 66 Ukrainian companies were represented in the region’s top 500; the number has grown sharply to 75 companies in 2011 (+13.6%). Unlike in recent years, the profit accounted for by the top players has grown out of all proportion (+1,136.8%). Ukraine now occupies second place in the assessment by profit, moving up seven places (2010: ninth place). Ukraine also occupies second place with regard to the total number of employees in these companies, which employ 3.7% of all workers in the country.

the Ukrainian economy grew by 5.2% in 2011, the number of business insolvencies rose only slightly by 3%, the insolvency rate is 0.1% and is therefore in second place after poland – ex aequo with Bulgaria. Gains in mechanical engineering (including through the renovation of ageing railway fleets in the CIS states) and in the chemical industry (such as through the global increase in fertiliser prices) are to be noted, although the increases were offset by falls in the areas of food processing (e.g. due to import restrictions on Ukrainian cheese in russia) and in crude oil processing – because only one in six Ukrainian refineries is still operating.

In 2012, private consumption, stimulated by looser fiscal policy, was one of the main drivers of economic growth in Ukraine. Growth is forecast to reach 3.9%.

3. Hungary
the negative trend in Hungary is continuing: the country may still occupy a leading position in the CEE comparison, but was pushed into third place by Ukraine. Compared to 2010, 12.2% fewer Hungarian companies were represented in the CEE top 500 in 2011. Hungary has also moved down when ranked by profit to fourth place (2010: third place). Going by the number of employees in these companies in relation to the total workforce, Hungary is also in third place with 4.8% – as in 2010.

Hungary’s economy grew slightly more again in 2011 (1.6%) than in 2010 (1.0%). nevertheless, the country is hovering on the edge of recession – a fact that is also reflected by the top 500 ranking. Of the Hungarian companies assessed, 63.5% are lower down the list compared to 2010. Another feature is that the only companies to move up the ranking were those that generated most of their earnings from exports. the economic situation in Hungary has been heavily influenced in the past year by the prevailing macroeconomic conditions. Consumers and investors alike were extremely cautious in their decisions. net exports have been the only growth driver in Hungary in the past three years.

As far as company insolvencies are concerned, Hungary is amongst the worst performers, as in 2010: the absolute number rose again by 17%, the insolvency rate of 3.4% is slightly better than in 2010 (3.6%), but still third from bottom in the region after Serbia and romania. Economic growth in Hungary will be much lower in 2012 or tend towards zero: Domestic demand is being hampered not least by restrictive credit terms and an uncertain economic environment. the country is expected to fall into recession in 2013.

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