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News 24 Jul 17

Private Stock Exchange Aims to Fill Gap in Albania

The first private initiative stock exchange in the country is due to open in October - and hopefully fill an important gap in the country's economic and financial architcture.

Fatjona Mejdini
BIRN
Tirana
Illustrative picture by pixabay.com

A new privately run stock exchange is due to open in Albania in October, after three years of the country not formally having such an institution.

The Tirana Stock Exchange, TSE, opened in 1996, first as a department of the Albanian Central Bank and later as a joint-stock company.

However, it never gained the trust of local businesses, remaining a ghost financial institution up to 2014, when the Financial Supervisory Authority, AMF, closed it down.

Artan Gjergji, Chief Executive of the Albanian Securities Exchange, which the AMF licensed in early July, told BIRN that it was time the country had a normal capital market.

"If we see financial trade in Albania like a human body, the lack of a capital market is similar to the lack of fully functioning lungs," he said, emphasising that Albania is now the only country in the region besides Kosovo that still lacks a stock exchange.

He believes Albania has an asymmetrically developed financial system, with a developed banking sector and a very underdeveloped non-banking sector, which the currently absent capital market needs to help develop.

Supporters of the new project believe that once it is established, it could increase business access to cheap finance as an alternative to bank loans, and support the development of investment funds and pension funds. It will also reduce fiscal evasion once the companies are listed on the exchange, they say.

Gjergji said the new initiative is very different compared with the first stock exchange of 1996.

"Now we have the support of all the country's financial authorities, investors, good financing and international expertise – and a very good electronic trading system ... All this give us hope that it will succeed," he said.

The creation of the stock exchange is generally considered a necessary component of the financial architecture of a country at the developmental stage of Albania.

At the end of 2015, Albania had 7 billion euros in bank deposits while the amount of money in private pension funds, investment funds, or life insurance is set at around 490 million euros.

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