Vienna's future as a Central European financial center was launched March 20 with the opening of the Austrian Futures and Options Exchange (Oesterreichische Termin-und Optionenboerse, OeTOB), specializing in the trade of stock-index options on the financial markets of Budapest and Bratislava. Soon to follow will be similar options on the Warsaw and Prague exchanges, as well as more comprehensive indices for all four markets.

All these OeTOB activities will be brought together under a single umbrella through the Central European Clearinghouse & Exchanges (CECE). The CECE indices will include seven Slovakian, nine Czech, 11 Hungarian and 14 Polish firms including banking, pharmaceutical, chemical, energy, machine production, construction, food processing and retail concerns. To make the market attractive to international institutional investors, CECE products will be priced in U.S. dollars.

The indices have been calculated and posted daily since last June - allowing Vienna to offer a valuable window on these emerging financial markets, not to mention the opportunity to reduce the inherent risks of investing in the East. The financial community is convinced that if the 41 firms in the CECE-Index succeed in listing on the Vienna Exchange, the capital city could well claim its place as the London of the East.

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