At PZU's initiative, 12 of the largest CEE enterprises signed the Business Council of Growing Europe founding memorandum

23 January 2020 — Daniela GHETU
Representatives of the 12 largest and most dynamic enterprises in the CEE - among which the PZU and TRIGLAV Groups -, have signed in Davos a memorandum forming the Business Council of Growing Europe, an initiative that will promote CEE as an attractive destination for investors and to support cooperation between business leaders from the region.

The authorship of the initiative belongs to PZU, while the founding members are 12 companies from the region: PZU, Banca Comerciala Romana, Bolt, Bulpros, Exponea, Gedeon Richter, OTP Bank, Bank Pekao, Prezi, Riko Group, Triglav Group and UiPath.

The aim of the established Council is to promote Central and Eastern Europe as an attractive place for investors from around the world and to create a hub for the development of the latest technologies, infrastructure and renewable energy sources. The declaration provides for the organization of joint events for the promotion of the region, participation in panels and meetings during major conferences and economic events, as well as cooperation with experts and advisers.

The slogan of the Business Council is Growing Europe, illustrating the feature of all 11 countries of Central and Eastern Europe, which is stable development.

The transformation that the countries of Central and Eastern Europe have undergone is unprecedented. Just 30 years was enough for countries that were behind the Iron Curtain to be now full members of the European Union, the North Atlantic Pact or the World Trade Organization. Countries that entered the global free market system with a baggage operating in a centrally planned economy became an important driver of the European Union's economic growth, which is confirmed by macroeconomic data.

The total gross domestic product of the 11 countries of the CEE region (Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary) amounts to nearly EUR 1.2 trillion. Their economies generate a total of 20% of the European Union's economic growth. In 2015, foreign direct investment in Central and Eastern Europe accounted for only 2% of the values for the entire European Union. In 2018 it was already 15%, which is more than seven times more than just three years earlier.

The strength of the region is also demonstrated by the potential of its inhabitants, who currently are over 100 million. The former Eastern Bloc countries included in the Three Seas region have a high percentage of people with higher education aged 25-64, which indicates the region's huge professional potential. Poland alone has more STEM graduates (exact sciences, technology, engineering, mathematics) than Italy or Spain. PISA tests confirm that young people from Poland and Estonia are among the world leaders in all three areas covered by the study: reading and interpretation, mathematics and natural reasoning.

"The region of Central and Eastern Europe has already achieved such a high level of development that it should become the most attractive destination for investments from around the world. Economic, political and social stability is a guarantee of stable economic growth regardless of the business cycle. By joining forces, we can increase awareness of the dynamics, entrepreneurship and innovation of our part of Europe. Creating the Business Council of Growing Europe, we are sending a positive signal to the European Union and the whole world and we are saying with a strong voice: Europe is not defending its status quo, Europe is developing, invest in a developing Europe" - said Pawel SUROWKA, president of the board of PZU. "From now on, Central and Eastern Europe has its own business council, has its voice and committed leaders who want to work on promoting it together."

About the founding members of the Growing Europe CEE Business Council

The PZU Group is the largest financial institution in Poland and Central and Eastern Europe. It is headed by PZU SA, whose traditions date back to 1803, when the first insurance company was established in Poland. Since 2010, PZU SA has been listed on the Warsaw Stock Exchange, where it has been at the forefront of the highest-valued and most liquid companies since its debut. The PZU Group manages approximately PLN 300 billion in assets and provides services to 22 million customers in five countries

Banca Comerciala Romana (BCR), an entity of the Erste Group, is the most important financial group in Romania, operating in the field of universal banking (retail, corporate and investment banking, treasury securities and capital markets) and including specialized leasing companies, savings pensions and housing loans. BCR is the largest Romanian bank in terms of asset value (over EUR 15 billion), the number of clients and the value of the portfolio of savings and credit products. BCR is also the most important Romanian financial brand in terms of the level of customer confidence and by the number of customers for whom BCR is the main bank.

Bank Pekao S.A., founded in 1929, is one of the largest financial institutions in the Central and Eastern Europe region and one of the three largest universal banks in Poland with approx. PLN 197 billion in assets and approx. PLN 30 billion in market capitalization. With its second largest branch network, Bank Pekao serves over 5.5 million retail clients. As a leading corporate bank in Poland, it serves every second corporation in Poland. The status of a universal bank is based on the market leading position in private banking, asset management and brokerage activities.

Bolt is a leading European transport platform, which aims to support convenient, fast and reliable journeys in cities. The company's wide range of services includes travel orders, micromobility, and food delivery. The company founded by Markus Villig began operations in 2013. Currently, it is one of the fastest growing transport platforms in Europe and Africa. Her investors include Daimler, Didi Chuxing, Korelya Capital and co-founder of TransferWise - Taavet Hinrikus. Bolt has over 30 million users in over 35 countries around the world.

BULPROS is a global company operating in the field of digital transformation, as well as one of the fastest growing technology organizations, appreciated in prestigious rankings, such as "Technology Fast 50 in CE" and "Technology Fast 500 in Europe, Middle East, and Africa" of the company Deloitte, listings Inc. 5000 Europe, Financial Times 1000 Europe, as well as in the report of McKinsey "The rise of Digital Challengers". The company's offer includes digital solutions, services in the area of digital security, cloud computing and support, technological and sales services, intended mainly for the financial and insurance industry, service sector, telecommunications, processing industry, health care sector and retail.

The data handling and customer experience creation platform offered by Exponea under the name Customer Data and Experience Platform (CDXP) processes and analyzes all data about the company's customers, enriches and supplements them through artificial intelligence mechanisms, and allows their active use for intelligent needs organizing consistent customer experiences at all contact points in real time and on a large scale. Exponea received the G2Crowd award as the best customer data handling platform. He supports brands such as River Island, Olukai and Missguided in their client-centric mission.

Gedeon Richter Plc. based in Budapest, Hungary, is a leading pharmaceutical company in Central and Eastern Europe developing its activities in Western Europe, China and Latin America. At the end of 2018, the capitalization of Gedeon Richter was EUR 3.2 billion (USD 3.6 billion). In the same year, its consolidated annual sales revenues were around EUR 1.4 billion (USD 1.6 billion). The company's medical product portfolio covers many important areas, including women's health protection products and medicines used in nervous and cardiovascular diseases.

The Triglav Group has 120 years of experience as a leading insurance group in Slovenia and one of the leaders in Southeastern Europe, where it strengthens its position and conducts further expansion. The most important pillars of the group's activity are insurance and asset management. The financial stability and profitability of the Triglav Group were reflected in the "A" ranking awarded by S&P and AM Best. The parent company of the group, Zavarovalnica Triglav, belongs to the largest and most liquid companies listed on the Ljubljana Stock Exchange.

The OTP Group provides the highest quality financial solutions, meeting the needs of almost 20 million individual and corporate clients in 12 countries of the Central and Eastern Europe region through a network of nearly 1,700 branches, 5,000 ATMs, and online and electronic channels. The OTP Group stands out as one of the European banking groups with the highest capitalization and liquidity, constantly providing the conditions necessary for stable operating activities and further development.

Prezi is a global leader in the field of visual communication tools. Thanks to them, users who include both business people and educators can reach their recipients more easily. Prezi products are unique and allow users to present content on one platform using dynamic movement and spatial context, which strengthens commitment and understanding. Prezi was founded in 2009 and has offices in San Francisco, Budapest and Riga, connecting a community of 100 million users - the authors of the world's largest database of public presentations. Prezi investors include Accel Partners, Spectrum Equity and TED conferences.

Riko is an international engineering company creating comprehensive technological solutions for the manufacturing and energy industries, environmental protection, logistics systems and construction. Riko provides integrated solutions using effective, modern and ecological technologies in various sectors, such as automotive, tractor production, rail and aviation, as well as energy, environmental protection, logistics and construction.

UiPath is a leader in the era of automation promoting the concept of a robot for everyone and supporting instilling new skills in robots based on artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies. Through widespread, free training, UiPath promotes the skills of the digital age among millions of people around the world, supporting efficiency and effectiveness in business, employee involvement and consumer experience.

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