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Polish capital market traditions go back to 1817, when the Warsaw Mercantile Exchange was established. Following the overthrow of Poland's former communist regime in 1989, WSE was created as a joint-stock company on April 12, 1991 by the State Treasury pursuant to the Foundation Act for Giełda Papierów Wartościowych w Warszawie SA (The Warsaw Stock Exchange Company).
WSE was organized from its inception as a modern stock exchange, supported by electronic trading and dematerialized registration of securities, laying a foundation for ongoing development. WSE held its first trading session on April 16, 1991 with five listed companies, all of which were formerly State-owned companies that had been privatized.
In 1999, Poland reformed its pension system, which contributed to an increase in domestic institutional investment, and in 2004 it joined the EU. These developments helped to boost trading volume in subsequent years.
Over the years, the Group has continued to innovate and evolve to meet the needs of its clients. WSE commenced derivatives trading in 1998 and launched the WARSET trading system in 2000. The WARSET system was launched in cooperation with the Paris Stock Exchange and Euronext and enabled its continuous trading for the first time on WSE. WSE created the NewConnect exchange-regulated market for small and medium-size enterprises in 2007, and launched the Catalyst bond market, creating a platform for trading corporate, mortgage-backed, treasury and municipal bonds in 2009. In July 2010 WSE entered into the Master Agreement with NYSE Euronext to establish a framework for their strategic cooperation. In particular the Master Agreement provides for (i) acquisition by WSE of the new UTP developed by NYSE Euronext and (ii) an exclusive strategic partnership between the parties in a defined CEE region with respect to a variety of identified business initiatives.
In recent years, WSE has become one of Europe's most dynamic IPO markets with 383 companies, including 23 foreign companies, listed on its Main Market, and 136 companies listed on NewConnect as at June 30, 2010. In addition, WSE's derivatives trading platform has grown to become the largest in CEE.