June 17, 2010
Within just six months, Poland has repeatedly marked a leader ambition for Responsible Investment in New Europe. Late 2009, the Warsaw Stock Exchange launched the region’s first stock index of responsible companies and last week it hosted Poland’s first international RI conference. At the event, GES Investment Services Poland’s Managing Director Martin Pitura presented a study concluding that Polish companies are among the leaders in ESG reporting in New Europe.
The relatively new Warsaw Stock Exchange (WSE), established in 1991, is rapidly becoming the nerve centre of financial transactions in Central and Eastern Europe – or New Europe, a denomination increasingly preferred in the region. The WSE has a strong dedication to supporting and promoting corporate innovation. Thus, in November 2009 it launched Poland’s – and New Europe’s – first stock index of responsible companies, known as the RESPECT Index. It consists of the sixteen most CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) compliant companies present on the WSE.
On June 7, the WSE gathered around 150 national and international participants for the First International Socially Responsible Investing Conference in Poland. The RESPECT index was a given item on the agenda, but it also included presentations by representatives from the Polish Ministry of Economy, the UN Principles for Responsible Investment and the International Finance Corporation, the World Bank’s private sector investment arm.
In addition, GES Investment Services was invited to contribute with a market orientation, due to its long presence in and knowledge of the Polish market. GES established its Polish office in Zielona Gora in 2004, which today employs 18 persons.
Martin Pitura, Managing Director of GES Investment Services Poland, presented the preliminary results of a GES study of Polish companies’ reporting on Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) issues in comparison with European peers. The evaluation was based on GES Risk Rating criteria and encompassed the 20-50 largest companies on each stock exchange in Europe, in total approximately 1,000 companies. The first findings reveal that Polish companies are leaders in New Europe, together with companies from the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovenia. Laggards are Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania and Serbia.
Martin Pitura said: “Polish companies perform quite well on Governance and are on the same level as the average companies of European countries with a longer record in responsible investment. One possible reason for this is that it is mandatory by law in Poland to publish information on Corporate Governance.”
“However, their ratings on Environmental and Social issues are still weaker, which might be explained by the fact that they do not inform the market on their performance and preparedness within these areas. In order to make them realise that the E and S pillars of ESG are equally important, I believe the Warsaw Stock Exchange’s Respect Index and conference are great initiatives that will contribute to giving these issues more attention in Poland.”
GES Investment Services will present the full findings of the study this autumn.