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Ljubljana Stock Exchange marks 30th anniversary

Ljubljana, 17 December (STA) - Thirty years since the Ljubljana Stock Exchange was set up was marked at an event in Ljubljana on Tuesday. Its boss Aleš Ipavec said this was a relatively short period for capital market development, and he would like the stock exchange to become more interesting for investors.

Ljubljana had a stock exchange already from 1924 to 1942, while there was no stock trading in communist Yugoslavia.

This changed on 26 December 1989, when the Ljubljana Stock Exchange was launched, at the time under the name of the Yugoslav Stock Exchange.

Its first director Draško Veselinovič recalled its beginnings, noting the stock market had been something new and exciting.

"We believed in something new and better, we believed we were doing something important," he said at the event at the Intercontinental Hotel in Ljubljana.

The first meeting of stock brokers was held in March 1990 featuring 14 stock brokers who traded in eleven securities.

It took until January 1996 for the first dematerialised securities to be listed - those of food company Kolinska.

Its index, SBI TOP, reached a record 1,506 points on 18 December 2006, while the exchange market's maximum capitalisation was EUR 19.7 billion.

As privatisation has been ongoing, many companies have delisted when changing owners.

The stock market was also heavily affected by the 2008-2010 financial crisis. As former Finance Minister Franci Križanic said today, the crisis had dragged stock prices down and undermined the investors' trust.

As a result, the number of securities traded in Ljubljana now is below 60 as opposed to a record over 280, with market capitalisation at slightly over EUR 7 billion last week.

Križanič believes that if courts protect those who lost securities as part of the 2013 massive bank bailout, trust could be restored and the stock market further grow.

Ipavec would like to make the stock exchange more attractive to future generations by creating "an efficient capital market".

He regrets that "companies don't even know what possibilities they have on the market", noting they would like to reverse the trend.

He largely blames the situation on the state, saying the capital market is not an interesting topic for politicians to address voters with.

The founders of the stock exchange were banks, which were later joined by brokerage firms.

The Ljubljana stock exchange changed owners twice - it was sold to the CEESEG group, which brings together the Vienna and Paris stock markets, in June 2008, and then on to the Zagreb Stock Exchange at the end of 2015.

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