This guide is for intrepid investors who are wondering how to invest in Macedonia and the Macedonian Stock Exchange. Curious about investing in other frontier markets? Check out a list of our guides here.
Why Invest In Macedonia?
The Republic of Macedonia is a small landlocked country of 2 million people, and with a GDP per capita of just over $5000, is a European nation that is early in its growth cycle. Since breaking away from the former Yugoslavia in 1991, Macedonia has come a long way. Unemployment remains high at 22.8% in H1, 2017, but is at an all-time low and there is an extensive grey market in the country that does not get captured by official statistics.
Macedonia is not yet a part of the European Union, but is a candidate for accession. A resolution to its political crisis in late 2017 also means that for the first time in years, the country seems on track to grow again via its Government Program 2017-2020 plan and 3-6-9 Action Plan. The country as a whole has sought a growth plan centered around catering to foreign investors through low tax rates and openness to new business.
The market seems to be pricing in a turnaround since the main market index, MBI10, rallied almost 19% in 2017 while the currency, MKD, also gained over 15% on the year vs the USD. If the European recovery can continue and Macedonia is able to maintain its political stability, the future outlook is promising for a frontier market country that is starting from a very low base.
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Notable Companies in Macedonia:
- Alkaloid Skopje (ALK): largest company by market capitalization on the exchange, ALK has two main divisions: Pharmaceuticals, and Chemicals, Cosmetics, Botanicals. It operates across much of Eastern Europe and Russia.
- Komercijalna Banka AD Skopje (STB): second largest company on the exchange by market cap, it is the largest bank in Macedonia
- Makpetrol AD Skopje (MPT): main oil and natural gas producer and distributor in Macedonia
- Granit AD Skopje (GRNT): main building and construction company in Macedonia, does infrastructure including roads and electric grids, to residential and commercial buildings
- Makendonski Telecom AD Skopje (TEL): the largest telecom in Macedonia, part of the Deutsche Telekom group
Is It Safe To Invest In Macedonia?
According to our Investment Safety Rankings, Macedonia is ranked #49 on our list, a very good ranking for a small frontier market country. However, the ranking has been buoyed by an extremely good Ease of Doing Business ranking from the world bank, which has ranked Macedonia 11th overall in 2018. That ranking is there mainly on a strong “Protecting Minority Investors” component, which bodes well for investors looking in Macedonia.
However, Macedonia ranks 90th on the Corruption Perception Index, meaning that the corruption issues that have plagued Macedonia in the past have yet to be resolved. We anticipate that with a continued focus on government reform as it attempts to join the EU, it will get safer with time to invest in Macedonia.
Can Foreigners Invest In Macedonia?
Yes, foreigners are allowed to invest in Macedonia, and given how dependent the economy is on foreign markets, they are welcome. Non-residents are allowed to trade on the Macedonian Stock Exchange.
Macedonian Stock Exchange (MSE) Snapshot:
In operation since: 1995, market opened in 1996
Location: Skopje, Macedonia
Currency: Macedonian Denar (MKD)
Market Capitalization (as of Jan 2018): $2.6b USD equivalent (shares), $68m USD (bonds)
Local Listed companies (as of July 2017): 107 companies on the official exchange (1 super, 28 exchange, and 78 mandatory type listings). Many more listed on the regular market but they rarely trade.
Taxes: 10% on capital gains, 10% on dividends, but can be reduced if there is a Double Tax Treaty signed by your country of residence with Macedonia.
Foreign currency controls: none
Main Index: MBI10 for stocks, market cap weighted index of the 10 main stocks on the exchange. OMB for bonds, consists entirely of government bonds.
Despite its name, the Macedonian Stock Exchange (MSE) has both listed stocks and bonds. The bonds are a small part of the exchange and are mainly different runs of government bonds.
Stocks make up the majority of the exchange and are split between two sections: official and regular. The official market is split between three more types: super listings, exchange listings, and mandatory listings, with different conditions for listing for each. There is only 1 super listing, Komercijalna Banka AD Skopje, and the rest of the MBI10 constituents are on the exchange listings.
Then there is the regular-type listings which consist of JSC with special reporting obligations, and the free market. These companies are illiquid and rarely trade.
How to Invest in Macedonian Stocks and the Macedonian Stock Exchange:
Investing on the Macedonian stock exchange requires opening an account with an authorized member of the exchange, namely a brokerage firm or bank that trades on the exchange. There are 11 brokerage firms available according to MSE’s website, and they can be found here. We have seen that almost all websites have an English version so communicating should be relatively easy.
Make sure to check out our other investing guides here!