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jeudi 26 avril 2012

Peter Elam Hakansson (East Capital) backs Baltic turnaround story

ST PETERSBURG : The leading growth countries in Europe over the last quarter were the Baltics says East Capital’s Peter Elam Hakansson who believes it is a clear sign of a turnaround in their fortune.

The firm’s CIO and Citywire A-rated manager currently runs a number of funds and while Russia often dominates his exposure, outside of the BRIC nation Hakansson said countries like Estonia and Latvia are his main focus.
‘When you go through a difficult crisis situation you learn a lot,’ he told Citywire Global at his firm’s latest investor summit in St Petersburg.
‘And I really think the Baltics have come out of it much stronger. Estonia, Lithunania, Latvia and also Poland were the top growth countries in the last quarter in the whole of Europe.’
They took all the necessary steps to clean up their act after the crisis, said Hakansson, and it is beginning to pay off.
‘Now they are growing but it’s not funded through credit like it was before but instead through the equity market.’
‘They cut down public spending and reallocated money from the public sector and into the private sector. They turned around a current account deficit into a surplus so for me it is a tremendous success story.’

The one problem Hakansson says these countries are facing is their stock markets are not yet very liquid, so he is looking for different options to tap into their potential, such as real estate.
That was part of the reason why East Capital launched a Baltic Property fund, run by his colleague Biljana Persson, in February and which focuses mainly on the Estonian market.
‘There needs to be more privatisation in these countries,’ says Hakansson. ‘The Estonian and Latvian states, for example, have been talking about it a lot but I still have not seen anything concrete yet.’
Among his top stock picks we find Lithuanian telecoms group Teo as well as consumer group Pieno Zvaigzdes. In Estonia, department store and fashion outlet Tallina Kaubamaja is leading his list.
‘If I am being critical it would be to say that they have not brought enough companies to the stock market. It’s really in the hands of the politicians to spread it now.’

Over the past three years, his East Capital (Lux) Eastern European fund has returned 123% while it benchmark, MSCI EM Europe, has risen 113%.

(Atholl Simpson - Citywire - 20/04/12)

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