Top 100 See - - Editorial -

At the time when SeeNews started pub­lish­ing the SEE TOP 100 rank­ing seven years ago, South­east Europe was a fast-grow­ing market, lur­ing in­vestors with high yields, flex­i­ble labour poli­cies and low pro­duc­tion costs. The com­pa­nies in the re­gion were grow­ing at a ro­bust pace, and the dif­fer­ence in the net sales rev­enues of the first and the last ranked in­di­cated am­ple room for growth and con­sol­i­da­tion.

Back then, rid­ing the wave of op­ti­mism, lo­cal busi­nesses were con­fi­dent the re­gion was firmly set on a path to grad­u­ally un­lock its po­ten­tial.

What a dif­fer­ence seven years make. Or don't make in the case of pesky in­vestor de­ter­rents like poor in­fra­struc­ture and in­ad­e­quate gov­ern­ment and reg­u­la­tory poli­cies. Cor­po­rate rev­enues are stay­ing flat­tish, prof­its are de­clin­ing, and the dif­fer­ence be­tween the first and the last en­trant in the rank­ing has faded. Room for growth is lim­ited, and com­pe­ti­tion is get­ting fiercer. The ef­fects of cost-cut­ting and more sus­tain­able use of re­sources – hailed as a cure-all for cor­po­rate ills in the past few years – seem to have worn off. At the same time, in­vest­ment in in­no­va­tions, uni­ver­sally ac­knowl­edged as a key driver of com­pet­i­tive­ness and prof­itabil­ity, is largely ab­sent from the agenda of busi­ness ex­ec­u­tives in the re­gion.

To help draw at­ten­tion to the need to nur­ture in­no­va­tion in the re­gion, we have de­cided to in­clude in this year's edi­tion a spe­cial chap­ter fea­tur­ing ex­clu­sive in­ter­views with some of the global lead­ers in in­no­va­tion – IBM and Cisco, as well as an ar­ti­cle on LAUNCHub, a seed fund with an in­vest­ment fo­cus on dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy.

Like pre­vi­ous edi­tions, apart from the flag­ship rank­ing of the largest non-fi­nan­cial com­pa­nies by to­tal rev­enue, SEE TOP 100 fea­tures rank­ings of the biggest banks and in­sur­ers, com­ple­mented with in­ter­views with the chart-top­pers and key market play­ers. The edi­tion also in­cludes sub-rank­ings of the most prof­itable com­pa­nies and biggest loss-mak­ers, as well as the com­pa­nies with the biggest rev­enue per capita. The rank­ing of the most suc­cess­ful in­dus­tries in the re­gion comes to­gether with an anal­y­sis of the en­ergy sec­tor, cour­tesy of the In­sti­tute of En­ergy for South East Europe, and an over­view of the gro­cery market trends, con­trib­uted by our part­ner Euromon­i­tor In­ter­na­tional.

We have made it a tra­di­tion in past years to also bring you the per­spec­tive on the re­gion of the big in­ter­na­tional banks. In our sev­enth edi­tion, we talk to Ih­san Ugur De­likanli, the pres­i­dent of the Black Sea Trade and De­vel­op­ment Bank, about the bank's oper­a­tions, and JeanMarc Peter­schmitt, the man­ag­ing di­rec­tor for Cen­tral and South­east Europe of the Euro­pean Bank for Re­con­struc­tion and De­vel­op­ment, about the chal­lenges faced by the bank­ing sec­tor in the re­gion.

To give you a fuller pic­ture, we have de­cided to also in­clude an anal­y­sis by SeeNews Com­pet­i­tive In­tel­li­gence on the re­gion's small and medium-sized en­ter­prises – the back­bone of ev­ery econ­omy, which usu­ally re­mains in­vis­i­ble in the big rank­ings.

Nevena Krasteva Edi­tor-in-chief

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