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4 questions for: Christoph Boschan

The Vienna Stock Exchange is celebrating its 250th anniversary this year. What were the most significant changes, what were the biggest milestones?

A 250-year existence is impressive and shows the stability and necessity of a central trading place in the form of a national stock exchange. After the first trading day in 1771, initially only bonds, bills of exchange and foreign currencies were traded. The shares of Oesterreichische Nationalbank and the Austrian Central Bank were the first to be listed in Vienna in 1818, and one of the earliest shareholders was Ludwig van Beethoven. During the period of economic expansion, which was to last until 1872, the Vienna Stock Exchange saw numerous new issues and gained international reputation. Today, the two oldest and still listed companies are PORR AG and Wienerberger AG. Following this economic upturn, the historic stock exchange building on Vienna’s Ringstrasse was opened in 1877. After years of development, especially with the rapid changes brought about by digitalisation and modernisation, the Vienna Stock Exchange can look back on a long tradition where trust and transparency are values that are still intact.

What significance does the Viennese trading platform have today - nationally and internationally?

Hardly any other European stock exchange of similar size has a comparable degree of diversification and efficiency. Today, the Vienna Stock Exchange is the clear market leader in the trading of Austrian equities and is recognised for its international network of trading participants, investors and data vendors. In addition to the central areas of trading and listing of securities, Wiener Börse AG, which includes the stock exchanges in Vienna and Prague, is now strategically more broadly positioned. For example, the index portfolio consists of more than 140 indices, including the ATX, which has been tracking the performance of blue chips listed on the Vienna Stock Exchange in real time for 30 years. With an upward trend: In 2021, it repeatedly exceeded its all-time high including dividends and has shown a performance of nearly 600% since its start in 1991. As the heartbeat of the Austrian capital market, our stock exchange is the most important provider of market infrastructure in the region and builds bridges for companies to the world's leading financial centres, opening the way for investors to the growth markets of Central and Eastern Europe.

What characterises the Austrian stock market - how does it differ from others?

The national index ATX has quite a cyclical composition. The strengths and advantages of Austrian companies lie in their stable planning and dividend policy, their exemplary crisis management as well as their international market opportunities and research activities. Both, Austrian companies as well as the Vienna Stock Exchange are well interconnected with the global market. 85 percent of the stock market turnover originates abroad. International competition pushes us to an even higher quality. Like in other German-speaking countries, the domestic investor base should be further broadened. The right incentives are already included in the current government programme. The market capitalisation of around 30% of the gross domestic product shows the potential the Austrian market still has.

What contribution can the stock exchange or the capital market make to overcoming the current crisis?

During the crisis, the stability of stock exchanges proved itself. Despite a challenging market environment and more difficult conditions, trading never stood still. Financing via the stock exchange is particularly important to remain competitive even after the crisis. Only with equity we can foster innovation and technological development in the long run. Wiener Börse supports domestic companies in raising the required equity capital by providing the best possible infrastructure for global investors. Countries with more developed capital markets will have the much greater leverage in the "green transformation". They will transform faster and more sustainably and move into a CO2-free future with higher growth rates.

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