The pace of global economic growth had already slowed before the coronavirus epidemic. The trend really came to a head with the emergence of the pandemic. Overall, global economic output in 2020 was 5% below that of 2019 due to a series of new waves, marking the end of a 10-year boom.

Of course, Hungary could not escape these effects. As a result of the restrictions to contain the spread of the epidemic, the Hungarian economy’s expansion since 2013 stalled, with almost all sectors losing their original growth paths for longer or shorter periods. With sectors in a constant state of flux, hibernating and then rebounding, extremely fluctuating commodity prices, an undulating labour market and rising inflation, the pandemic has created an extraordinary economic environment.

Small and medium-sized enterprises, which are the backbone of the economy, including the core BSE50 community, faced a major challenge, especially during the first two waves of the pandemic: the biggest challenges were typically the reduction in demand and changes in work processes due to health requirements. However, there is another side to the coin in  this case, as the pandemic has opened up new markets and opportunities; online sales have come to the fore, the digital- isation and innovation revolution has accelerated, and the role of intellectual property products has increased further.

The rapidly changing market environment has had an even greater impact on this year’s BSE50 than ever before. IT won the industry competition for the first time in the history of the BSE50. Like previous members of the community, the newly selected companies are among the country’s most successful economic players, and their continued growth is key to the recovery and future development of the Hungarian economy. Their role is well illustrated by their combined sales revenue and EBITDA: the former was close to HUF 4,000 billion in 2020, the latter around HUF 500 billion.

"Life is like cycling. To keep your balance, you have to keep moving.” — Albert Einstein’s words have been confirmed in this case again, because despite the extraordinary period since the previous edition was published, not only the Fifty but also BSE’s services for medium-sized enterprises have had a very active period, with significant milestones. Both the ELITE Programme and the Mentor Programme have been further expanded, and we have recently welcomed a new issuer on the BSE Xtend market, OXO Technologies.

Based on these results and the experience of this year’s interviewees, we can say that capital financing is increasingly embedded in Hungarian corporate thinking, which is particularly important in an unconventional market environment such as the one we have now.

2021 is not only about restarting life, but also about continu- ing the Budapest Stock Exchange’s strategy. In addition to continuing to build on the foundations we have established since 2016, our primary objective is to develop the Hungarian capital market ecosystem, and BSE’s own IPO is also approach- ing its final phase. In line with the main ambition of the BSE50 concept, we believe that this step is also important to encour- age Hungarian companies—we are confident that the BSE can serve as a model for IPO-ready companies and will encourage further share issues.

With this new publication, the BSE50 community now includes nearly 300 companies. As in previous years, we would like to thank the leaders of the companies for their openness and helpfulness, EY for its key role in the compilation of the publication, our key sponsors, OTP Bank and Széchenyi Funds, and our partners for their work in developing the Hungarian capital market.

Let’s get to know the new members of the BSE50 community—we wish you fun and inspiration for this year’s success stories!