Contemporary Issues in Finance: Current Challenges from Across Europe: Volume 98

Cover of Contemporary Issues in Finance: Current Challenges from Across Europe

Table of contents

(14 chapters)

The research paper analyzes the connection between financial literacy among several target audiences and the dynamics of domestic economic activity within the Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania). Considerable attention is also paid to literature about financial literacy and domestic economic activity in a historical, crisis-ridden, and neoliberal perspective. By examining the relationship of financial literacy and domestic economic activity, a model based on the results of fuzzy Delphi method and an author-designed limited Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development/International Network on Financial Education core survey was carried out in the Baltic States by the author and has been elaborated and examined, concluding, that the relationship is weak, but trends that have been identified are clearly recognizable throughout iterations.

The lack of promotion and implementation of institutionalized targeted financial literacy activities in the Baltic States partially explains a positive association between financial knowledge and consumption behavior, although survey results show levels of financial literacy above 74% throughout the Baltics. The development and analysis of the model has been successful as well, even though the results are statistically only partially significant. The analysis of the model still is important in illuminating the most important factors that influence domestic economic activity in the Baltic States and the relations with key financial literacy indicators. Overall, the research paper encourages further analysis to be carried out in the Baltic States in order to assess the levels of financial literacy over time, as well as to perform an in-depth domestic economic activity analysis so as to develop a toolset for academics as well as policy makers.


Global economy, growing importance of innovations as well as wide use of technologies have changed the banking business worldwide. Financial technologies (FinTech) have become an integral part of banking, and nowadays banks have started to compete beyond financial services facing increasing competition from nonfinancial institutions providing, for example, payment services. Start-up service providers, search engines, and social networks have expanded their services “interfering” in the fields traditionally covered by banks. The rapid rise of FinTech has changed the business landscape in banking asking for more innovative solutions. These recent tendencies require the banks to increase investment in FinTech, rethink service distribution channels, especially the business-to-consumers models, increase further standardization of back-office functions, etc. Some members of the financial services industry see the boom in FinTech as a threat to traditional banking industry. Others believe that FinTech has become a challenge that can be turned into an opportunity as it provides more flexibility, better functionality in some areas, and aggregation of services. The aim of the paper is to analyze the recent trends in banking, identifying opportunities and risks of FinTech for banks. A timely integration of FinTech into business allows banks to get an advantage in growing competition. This paper provides an extensive analysis of recent trends in FinTech and banking, examining experience of leading European and US banks, as well as surveys conducted among members of the financial services industry in different countries. The authors have studied the development of the financial innovation and technology market, assessed the existing practices applied in the field of FinTech, identified the main risks related to development of FinTech and financial innovations the banks are exposed to on the micro- and macrolevel. The paper provides recommendations for regulators and banks to ensure reduction of risks associated with development of FinTech. Analysis of FinTech market has shown growing competition, including from nonfinancial institutions. The paper provides practical recommendations to commercial banks for strengthening the position in financial innovations and controlling the risks associated with introduction of financial innovations.


After the great economic crisis of 2008 the absolute outcome of which is still argued, the topic of alternative investment possibilities, such as business angels, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer investments, were broadly highlighted in the European Union member states. Few suggest that in spite of the floating understanding of the topic, alternative investments managed to significantly increase the access to finance for start-ups and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) providing the overall support to economic recovery. The positive effects of alternative investment market development is now a matter of fact – recent studies suggest European alternative finance market to reach 2,957 million of euro by 2014. On the other hand, the absence of overall awareness of entrepreneurs about the alternative investment possibilities, still weak legislative regulation, market specifics, and other challenges alike are hindrances that do persist. The main aim of this paper is, while acknowledging the key aspects of crowdfunding, to form a grounded understanding to what extent crowdfunding might support SMEs on their way to solve the challenges of access to finance. In order to reach the goal of the research an analysis of investment specifics, prior experience of the crowdfunding investments as well as core financial needs of SMEs will be acknowledged. The main finding of the paper suggests that crowdfunding while being an excellent tool for social or entertainment project financing can hardly be a significant financing tool for the European SMEs.


Derivatives are nowadays widely used globally both for speculative and hedging purposes. However, as experience shows, inadequate use of derivatives may cause severe problems and even bankruptcy of firms. Thus, it is essential to help organizations design a robust proactive governance and internal control structure, which will help to prevent new financial debacles and scandals when using derivatives. Taking into account the frequent use and the growing fraud caused by derivatives, the aim of the paper is to identify considerations for internal control important to ensure better governance of firms using derivatives. The main findings are based on an analysis of interviews that were conducted with experts directly or indirectly involved with derivatives from different European countries. The interviews were semistructured following the approach proposed by Patton (1990). An analysis of the data collected from the interviews was carried out using a thematic approach. The paper identifies and analyzes the main “sources” of derivatives misuse, including poor design and mis-categorization of instruments, convenience to blame derivatives, unsophisticated players, insufficient regulatory environment, poorly designed internal controls, inadequate communication, poor firm culture, etc. It also provides an extensive analysis of the main recommendation for internal control concerning awareness of derivatives design, the human aspects, regulations, communication, knowledge, and training. Sound internal controls could avoid new debacles without adding other restrictions to the market. Moreover, it provides recommendations for internal control important to ensure better governance of firms using derivatives.


The availability of funding is one of the key problems in the small and medium-sized business not only in Europe but also all over the world economic space. The lack of funds results in the starvation of the economy preventing it from full-fledged development. The aim of the research is to analyze the factors that interfere with the availability of funding to the small and medium-sized companies, by developing the profiles of SMEs and to give recommendations for the more effective raising of funds. During the research the following research methods were used: the generally accepted quantitative and qualitative research methods in economics, including the comparative analysis and synthesis and graphical depiction. The results of the analyses will be discussed and recommendation will be provided for policy makers and academician in the last section.


As a sort of Italian equivalent of US’s Chapter 11, the Preventive Arrangement with Creditors (Concordato Preventivo) is now the main instrument in Italy for small and medium-sized companies (and sometimes large ones) to manage insolvency by avoiding bankruptcy.

Through the examination of 60% of the total cases filed at the Court of Milan during the 2005–2014 period, authors investigated the different features of the procedure, the characteristics of the company that adopts it, and its diverse purposes of liquidation or restructuring. The complexity of the Italian system and the novelty of the legislation have made it rather difficult to reach definitive conclusions. However, Preventive Arrangements with Creditors can be considered a more efficient instrument than the alternative bankruptcy, both in terms of timeframe and creditors’ satisfaction. Within the overall European reform process of insolvency proceedings, Italy seems to provide useful insights for other countries in Europe, following in particular the 2014 Recommendation issued by the European Commission.


This study aims to research examples of mergers and acquisitions of European and Latvian dairy firms, the motivation for these transactions and their results, and to show that mergers and acquisitions had a positive impact on the development of the dairy industry overall and on specific firms by increasing their competitiveness.

The authors analyze the reasons for, as well as the meaning and impact of, mergers and acquisitions on firm development, focusing on the example of dairy companies in Europe, and subsequently on these processes in Latvian dairy industry.

The study is based on the qualitative and quantitative analysis of firm financial reports as well as reports of the International Dairy Federation, publications of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, annual reports of the International Farm Comparison Network, reports on the dairy industry in the European Union, Latvian Central Union of Dairy Producers, Lursoft firm registry data, as well as reports of the Ministry of Agriculture, and Latvian Farm Consultation and Education center.

The study relies on statistical comparisons of firm operations before mergers or acquisitions as well as during the process and afterwards. This allows identifying the impact of mergers itself on particular firms or the industry, while abstracting from exogenous factors. Mergers and acquisitions in Latvian dairy industry had begun in 2011 and continued until 2013. However, the geopolitical situation in Europe in 2015 had fully offset the positive impact of this process. The deterioration in the geopolitical climate due to developments in Russian–Ukrainian relations has had a big impact on the economic processes affecting the development strategy of dairy firms.

This study finds that often the problems of firm development are related to the lack of financial management especially deficiencies in decision making about firm mergers and acquisitions.

Historical and statistical analysis as well as comparisons of successful experiences in Europe and Latvia allows the authors to conclude that in evaluating decisions on the possibilities for mergers and acquisitions Latvian firms have to be guided by the most important results of this process: possible increases in foreign direct investment and the growth in market share. This will, in turn, give the firms an opportunity to acquire new technologies, reorganize manufacturing processes, and start producing goods with larger value added. Ultimately, this will allow increasing firm values.


Cross-border acquisitions play an important role in corporate strategic development and international expansion. During the past decades, mergers and acquisitions have been intensively researched through the lenses of strategic management, corporate finance, behavioral finance, etc. Despite the intense effort, the progress made is still fragmented and lacks unifying theories that approach the entire acquisition process on the one hand, and in-depth research of critical factors on the other. The intent of the research paper is to establish a vital link between academic research and practice of mergers and acquisitions, especially regarding the pre-acquisition evaluation.

In detail, the research paper investigates critical factors – and their inclusion in the pre-acquisition due diligence, before decision about acquisition is made. Pre-acquisition due diligence theoretically conforms to organizational learning theory, which proposes the more the acquiring firm learns about the acquisition target, the higher the probability of a successful acquisition. The central hypothesis states that due diligence, including the critical factors, in the pre-acquisition phase is related to acquisition success.

Using a multidimensional measure of critical factors, the empirical evidence is based on 85 cross-border acquisitions that took place between 2007 and 2013 in the European automotive industry. The quantitative analysis finds positive association between the Choice of Strategic Partner, Business Capabilities and HR Knowledge, and Financial Factors and Acquisition Premium as critical factors of due diligence and acquisition success. The strongest relationship is between business capabilities and knowledge transfer as the main asset for realization of synergy values and successful acquisition. In this context, the valuation of the business capabilities of the acquisition targets is classified as the main challenge for reflecting suitability of the acquisition price and establishing value generation from the combined firms in the post-acquisition phase.

By studying acquisition risk and critical factors – both success and failure reasons – this research tested and proved theoretically sound framework for successful acquisition. From a practical standpoint, the research results provide acquisition management with a proven model for pre-evaluating acquisition candidates by means of comprehensive due diligence.


One of the ways of convincing investors, in particular foreign ones, to take part in the implementation of host country economic policies is the development of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) designed to ensure more favourable business environment than those available in other locations. Poland has created and develops the SEZs. They play a positive role in attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) or creating new jobs but also may have negative consequences, such as deepening regional disproportions in the country.

This paper aims at examining why certain SEZs in Poland attracted more FDI than other. In our opinion that may result from the location in a particular region (understood as a unit of administrative division of the country at the level of a voivodeship) and from endogenous conditions characteristic of the zone, such as the land it owns, infrastructure and its accessibility and finally high quality performance of the company that manages the zone.

Our calculations have shown statistically significant positive relationships between FDI inflow to SEZ and overall and some partial coefficients that describe investment attractiveness of voivodeships. Test results also suggest that efforts of managing companies with regard to wooing investors (e.g. through promotions, infrastructure development) are important in increasing the inflow of foreign investment.


This paper investigates the audit report lag (ARL) in statutory audits. It tests a number of factors that may influence the ARL in 375 Maltese companies in the years 2006–2010. A mixed-methods research methodology is adopted, whereby company financial statements over the period are examined. Extracted information, including the ARL, is subjected to statistical tests on the relationship between such ARL and six independent variables: company size, audit firm size, audit opinion, profitability, the presence of an extraordinary item, and type of industry. This is then complemented by the analysis of 12 semistructured interviews with statutory auditors. The ARL is found to be shorter in large companies, when profit figures are positive, in financial service companies, and when the audit firms are large. A longer ARL is found when the audit report is qualified and in the absence of an extraordinary item. Interviewee response is generally consistent with these results except for the relationship to ARL of the absence of an extraordinary item. ARL is also seen to vary according to the users’ perceptions of the relevance and usefulness of the financial statements. Besides confirming or otherwise the relationship of the ARL to the stated major factors, the study also brings to light the need for cooperation by both audit firms and client companies to reduce such ARL.

Cover of Contemporary Issues in Finance: Current Challenges from Across Europe
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Contemporary Studies in Economic and Financial Analysis
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Emerald Publishing Limited
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