Cities in Central and Eastern Europe are top of the list for companies looking to expand across Europe over the next five years, with Warsaw, Moscow, Budapest and Bucharest ahead of London and Paris.

Data from Cushman & Wakefield, released at Munich's EXPO REAL trade fair, reveals that 36 of Europe's largest companies say that Warsaw is where they intend to expand next, up from 28 last year.

Cushman's European Cities Monitor, which is based on a survey of 500 of Europe's largest companies, is published as French bank Société Générale announced yesterday that Poland is first on its list to expand as part of a E1.4bn acquisition trail.

Poland's economy, which has experienced a less servere downturn than neighbours such as Hungary and Ukraine, is expected to remain flat at 0% this year.

But London was ranked first by companies as the best city to do business, with participants listing the city top for internal transport links and diversity of languages spoken. The UK capital has been favourite in this category for 21 years.

Despite the downturn and fears that companies will seek to resist expansion and cut costs, the total number of locations in which companies plan to expand has increased by 3%, according to Alexander Rafajlovi, head of research at Cushman & Wakefield in Prague.

He said; "This indicates a gradual stimulation of the economy. While the objective of companies in the past was mainly cities in Eastern Europe, this year we are witnessing increasing interest in bigger cities and Western Europe."

Spanish cities Barcelona and Madrid were also ranked highly this year for best cities to do business, listed fourth and sixth respectively.