Illar Kaasik | Main aim of TOP 101 project is to highlight the importance of Estonian businesses to Estonian society

In cooperation with Nasdaq Tallinn, we put together TOP 101 of Estonia’s most valuable companies at the end of last year because we once again wanted to highlight the importance of Estonian businesses to Estonian society. Although this TOP may be viewed as an inappropriate joke by the public and the entrepreneurs themselves, in light of what is taking place at the moment, it is an important database and historic depiction of the main players participating in the Estonian economy at the end of 2018.

Estonia’s GDP in 2018 was EUR 26.0 billion, and the total value of the 101 Estonia’s most valuable companies at the end of the year was EUR 20.7 billion, or 80% of Estonia's GDP. There are people behind every successful business, and despite the worst possible setbacks, it is largely the same people who are behind new or reborn businesses. The future TOP 101s are the moral support, inspiration, and recognition for those entrepreneurs who, just like today, are fighting at the forefront of the economy for the economic survival and independence of their businesses, employees, business partners as well as the entire Estonian country and people. We plan to compile the TOP as a longer-term project in this format, to serve as an indicator describing the recovery, health, and potential of the Estonian economy.

Although it may seem today as if both the global and Estonia’s economy are standing on the edge of a cliff or are already in freefall, hopefully, we will soon be able to say: ‘Jack, goddammit! My feet have touched the ground.’ Once the value of most expensive Estonian businesses starts to grow again, tax revenue and average wages across the country will also begin to grow again. As Prudentia has also compiled a similar TOP for Latvia, it will be interesting in the future to analyze how changes are taking place in Latvian and Estonian businesses as the economic environment changes and also in accordance with different national economic policies.

There is a great deal of discussion in Estonia about the cost of Estonian unicorns and how much potential they actually have. Bolt, TransferWise – why aren’t they included in our TOP, and when will they be included? Or Pipedrive and Veriff? The TOP 101 methodology assessed Estonian residents and the main indicator for the formation of the value of the company was EBITDA, which expresses the company's commercial revenue. The growth companies mentioned above are either registered outside Estonia or are not yet profitable, but we hope that the coming years will bring positive developments in both factors and that Estonian unicorns will also rank in the TOP 101 in the future. All the more so, since the only thing that economic analysts seem to agree on when talking about future developments is that the crisis is revolutionizing the rapid digitalization of both society and business models. And in this game, Estonian entrepreneurs and the public sector have a few cards up their sleeves.

Several Estonian companies, like Cleveron and Skeleton Technologies, have proven that Estonian companies can be successful internationally even in more complex, technology-driven areas. We hope to see them in the TOP 101 soon.

In conclusion, I would like to thank our partners: Nasdaq Estonia, Prudentia Riga, and Ekspress Meedia, in cooperation with whom we brought the TOP 101 to the Estonian public, and wish continued strength to all Estonian companies that they would survive today and, once the situation is clear and improving, to successfully increase both the value of their businesses and Estonia's national wealth.

Illar Kaasik, Partner at Prudentia

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