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1 Deal or no deal

M&A/Privatisation

As Southeast Europe returns to steady economic growth, the mergers and acquisitions (M&A) market in the region is picking up again and an increasing number of both local and foreign investors push ahead with expansion plans. In 2015 the value of M&A deals in Central and Southeast Europe (CSEE) rose 16.6% to 43.1 billion dollars ($38.4 billion), with IT and manufacturing as the most attractive sectors, according to recent date of global consultancy EY.

2 viewpoint

Interviews&Analyses

3 Game of polls

Snap elections in Bulgaria

Bulgaria will hold early general elections on Sunday, four months after the resignation of the minority coalition cabinet led by centre-right GERB party. GERB's cabinet stepped down in November after the party's candidate in the presidential elections, Tsetska Tsacheva, lost to the Socialists-backed candidate Rumen Radev. A caretaker government, led by former parliament speaker Ognyan Gerdjikov officially took office on January 27.

4 Democracy

Political unrest in Macedonia

Macedonia held early election in December as part of a EU-brokered deal that aimed to resolve a protracted political crisis. The crisis began in January 2015, when SDSM's leader Zoran Zaev, then in opposition, accused the coalition government of VMRO-DPMNE and DUI of corruption, illegal wiretapping of more than 20,000 people and covering-up a murder. The conservative VMRO-DPMNE won a close victory against SDSM in the election, but failed to agree with ethnic Albanian party DUI on the formation of a coalition government after talks stumbled over the official use of Albanian language in the country, among other issues.

5 Flying high

Low-cost carriers

The recent boom of low-cost carriers across Southeast Europe (SEE), particularly in Romania and Bulgaria, has created a new market which complements legacy airlines. Rising low-cost passenger numbers, especially in Romania and Bulgaria, are closely linked to the double-digit growth of international tourists to both countries in 2016. According to Bulgarian finance ministry data, more than 56% of foreign tourists who visited the country last year arrived by low-cost flights.

6 Subdued growth

Economic outlook

Activity in the region has benefited from lower oil prices and the gradual recovery in the euro area, but elevated corporate debt is hindering private investment, according to the IMF’s latest World Economic Outlook report. The World Bank, for its part, has commented that a notable revival of investment underpinned economic growth, particularly private investment - both foreign and domestic. Exports are also helping to fuel this growth. Improving productivity, however, remains pivotal for boosting growth in the region.

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