Business in Romania blog
The business in Romania blog writes about the Romanian business landscape, doing business in Romania, investing in Romania business and debating on business issues in Romania. Check this Blog's Policy here.



Monday, February 28, 2005
Business in Romania blog
Probably all of you in Romania heard about this, but some people ouside the country may not be up-to-date with the process.

Romania will change its currency by cutting-off four zeros of the current currency, the LEU. The new currency will be called the "heavy leu" and it should start being pushed into the economy from 1st of March (happy birthday, Ladies !)

The new currency should prepare the country for the currency conversion to EUR due in a couple of years, as we are preparing to joining the European Union.

Starting from tommorow, everybody should display the prices in both currencies and it should start phisically entering into circulation on 1st of July.

Looking forward to seeing how the transition goes and we'll keep you up-to-date.

Posted by Mihai Botea : 2/28/2005 09:11:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Friday, February 25, 2005
Business in Romania blog
Romanian sugar producers face a hard time in the run-up to the country's predicted accession to the EU in 2007, with few firms capable of the high level of investment that will be necessary to compete with other companies from the rest of the Union – especially given Romania's current sub-quota production levels.

Romania is unique among current EU member and accession states in being unable to meet the sugar production quotas set by the Commission in Brussels, and with few companies able to afford the high price of modernising production, the market remains dominated by imports.

But with possible accession just two years away, Romanian sugar processors are becoming increasingly concerned that other EU producers will look to take advantage of their quota shortfall – not least because imminent reform of the European sugar regime will see existing quotas slashed by around 16 per cent.

"Romania's EU sugar quota is 329,000 tons of white sugar a year, of which 109,000 tons is processed from beet. We are the only country in Europe that will have to increase production to reach its quota by the time Romania enters the EU in January 2007," Emilian Dobrescu, head of the Romanian arm of Austrian company Agrana,told CEE-foodindustry.com.

"Joining the EU will lead to such steep competition that only four or five local sugar factories will stay in business, in my personal opinion," Dobrescu said. "The Romanian sugar market is pretty fragmented."

Agrana is the market leader with 33 per cent, followed by Zahar Oradea and Zahar Liesti, both with 16-17 per cent each, while the rest of the market is controlled by five smaller processors in the towns of Corabia, Urziceni, Calarasi, Bod and Ludus.

Agrana has just arranged for a new EUR 30 million line of credit from Raiffeisen Bank and BA-CA of Austria which it will add to the EUR 50 million it has already invested in Romania in a bid to strengthen its position there. The money will be invested in "raw materials, increasing productivity and quality and diversifying products and services," said Dobrescu.

Currently Agrana has three sugar factories in the rural towns of Roman, Tandarei and Buzau, a starch and glucose factory (AGFD Tandarei) and a raw sweets factory in the town of Roman, called Romana Prod. Agrana also has a fruit division that owns a fruit processing plant in Carei called Caraobst and one in Vaslui called WINK Romania.

Romania's sugar consumption in 2004 was 570,000 tons, but only 50,000 tons of this came from local beet. Some 80,000 tons was processed in Romania from imported beet, and the rest from imported raw sugar.

Romania also struggles with its competitiveness, with several EU countries able to produce sugar as cheaply as it can, despite higher labour costs, partly because any financial support from Brussels tends to reach the new EU member states more quickly than Romania, where red tape slows down its effectiveness.

Despite still falling short of quota, 2004 was a record year for Romanian sugar production, which reached five tons per hectare compared to just 2.6 tons/ha in 2003. The problem will be maintaining this forward momentum.

"I think that 2005, a post-electoral year, will see a stagnation in sugar consumption, as energy costs in particular are expected to rise, in turn affecting consumers' purchasing power and driving up production costs. The price of raw sugar on international markets, where Romania sources much of its supplies, is also likely to increase," said Dobrescu.

Source: cee-foodindustry.com

Posted by Mihai Botea : 2/25/2005 12:27:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Thursday, February 24, 2005
Business in Romania blog
The Bucharest Stock Exchange (BVB) said that as of March 1, it will charge a monthly fee of 50 euros for users who want real-time access to the information available on its Web site.

The stock information can also be accessed for free, with a 30-minute delay.

BVB currently collects around 100,000 euros from providing stock information to investors and it expects to gain more following this move.

Posted by Iulia Rasoiu : 2/24/2005 10:50:00 am
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
The National Bank of Romania (BNR) is expected to release an order today to allow all Romanian companies to buy foreign currencies without restrictions, in a move that would be the first step towards the next phase of the liberalization of the capital account.

The bank's administration council is expected to endorse an order today to allow all companies to buy foreign currencies without restrictions, meaning they will not have to report the purpose of the purchase.

Posted by Iulia Rasoiu : 2/24/2005 10:22:00 am
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
At the beginning of this year, ARIS was anticipating almost 4 billion euros in foreign direct investments, while BNR representatives forecast only 3 billion euros.

Foreign direct investments last year reached 4.098 billion euros, increasing by 52.5% compared to the previous year's investments and exceeding the level forecast by the Romanian Agency for Foreign Investments (ARIS) at the beginning of 2005, according to National Bank of Romania (BNR) figures.

This increase was due in part to the privatization of Romania's largest company, Petrom, for which the Austrian oil group OMV paid $1.5 billion.

Also contributing to the increase were the state's sale of local energy providers Electrica Banat and Electrica Dobrogea, which were purchased for 112 million euros.

Another significant privatization was the $222 million purchase of 25% of the Romanian Commercial Bank's shares by the International Finance Corporation and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

The foreign direct investments will reach 3.1 billion euros in 2005, taking into account that only green field and brown field projects will account for approximately 875 million euros over the next two years and will provide 8,925 new jobs.

Posted by Iulia Rasoiu : 2/24/2005 10:18:00 am
Business in Romania blog
Wednesday, February 23, 2005
Business in Romania blog
After Philip Morris launching NEXT just a while ago, BAT counterattacks with bringing Dunhill in the Romanian Market.

Even though they will not be direct competitors, BAT's move is seen as a direct response to the NEXT launch.

Dunhill will be the first super-premium cigarette brand in the Romanian market, with pricing of about 44.000 lei.

Currently, the most expensive cigarette on the Romanian market is Parliament, priced at 38.000 lei. Parliament is followed by Kent, Marlboro and Camel, priced at about 34.000 lei.

The move is also connected to the future rising in cigarette prices (it should come with Romania getting closer to the EU). If the prices will rise as predicted (the average cigarette will be around 70.000 lei by 2007), the difference between premium brands (Kent, Marlboro, Camel, Parliament) and super-premium (Dunhill) will be a minor one, so the market potential is great.

Currently, the Romanian cigarette market is leaded by Philip Morris (with brands like Marlboro, Parliament, Next) with 36% market share followed closely by BAT (represented by Kent, Winston and - to follow - Dunhill) with 34%. JTI is third with 17%. (Business Magazin estimations)

Posted by Mihai Botea : 2/23/2005 01:22:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
Bloombiz published the top of the most powerful (ranked by assets) banks in Romania for 2004.

The COmmercial Bank of Romania (www.bcr.ro) remains on first place with 32% higher than a year before (total assets of about EUR 6 billion). In terms of market share, BCR owns 26%, compared to 29% at the end of 2003.

On second place comes BRD Societe Generale (www.brd.ro), with EUR 3 billion in assets and 13% marketshare.

Raiffeisen is the most dynamic bank as they doubled their assets in one year, reaching a total of about EUR 2 billion. Also, in terms of market share Raiffeisen was on a growing trend, reaching 9,2% in 2004 - up from 6,9% in previous year.

Fourth comes The Romanian Savings Bank, with a market share of 5,9%. ING is on fifth palce followed by ABN Amro.

HVB is up to seventh position (being nineth one year ago), with assets growing by almost 100%. Bankpost is on 8th place, followed by Alpha Bank on nineth and Transilvania Bank is on last place. Tiriac Bank is out of the top.

First five banks in the system own about 60% of total banking assets and the first 10 have about 80%.

Personally, I have a very possitive opinion about ING and their new retail offers. I have been one of their customers for about two months now and I am very pleased by their services.

Posted by Mihai Botea : 2/23/2005 11:22:00 am
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
This is a very interesting move that will probably send shockwaves through the Romanian research market.

Naperville, USA. February 22 2005. Millward Brown has appointed leading Romanian market research company, Daedalus Consulting as its licensee in Romania, further expanding Millward Brown’s presence in Central and Eastern Europe.

Based in Bucharest and with six regional branches throughout the country, Daedalus Consulting works for both global and local clients across a broad range of fields, including finance, packaged goods, IT, telecoms, industrial goods and pharmaceuticals.



Commenting on the appointment, Petra Prusova, Development Director Millward Brown Central and Eastern Europe, said: “Millward Brown has been working with international clients in Romania for several years and these clients will benefit greatly from our increased presence there. Likewise, local clients of Daedalus Consulting will now have access to Millward Brown’s tools and approaches.” Continued Prusova: “Like Millward Brown, Daedalus Consulting has extensive experience in brands, media and communications consultancy. They both have qualitative and quantitative skills and will work well alongside other Millward Brown companies in the region”.
Daniel Enescu, Managing Director of Daedalus Consulting added: “We are very pleased to have been appointed by Millward Brown to market its branded solutions in Romania. Daedalus Consulting will benefit greatly from Millward Brown’s experience, and so will our clients."

Posted by TM : 2/23/2005 09:07:00 am
Business in Romania blog
Tuesday, February 22, 2005
Business in Romania blog
The Government analyzes these days the opportunity of listing on the Romanian Stock Exchange 10% of the shares at the Romanian Commercial Bank (RCB), the largest bank in the system.

State minister Adriean Videanu announced that the cabinet also intends to put on the market 10% of the shares at the national oil operator, Petrom, operation where owner OMV already offered its agreement. Other companies to be soon listed are the national telecomm operator, Romtelecom, and a state-owned bank, CEC.

Romanian state still holds a 36.88% stock in RCB, after selling 25% to the European Reconstruction and Development Bank (ERDB) and International Finance Corporation, for 222 million dollars. The rest is held by BCR employees - 8%, and financial investment societies.

Posted by Mihai Botea : 2/22/2005 08:11:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
Organizing early elections, as soon as possible, was a theme to divide the entire political class in Romania, beyond the traditional power-opposition limits. Even the president and the prime minister argued on the subject, less than one month after they both agreed that it was the best solution. Still, officials say it might be the best solution, in case the Parliament is a problem in promoting the necessary laws.

The fears expressed by prime minister Tariceanu are also supported by Brussels, where European officials don’t have a good eye on the early elections, given the pre-accession commitments Romania has assumed.

"It is Romania’s option. But I don’t think is the best option because it would detour the attention from the integration process, which is already a difficult test. On the other hand, in case the Parliament is a problem, than it might be the only option”, officials declared.

Te chief of the European Delegation in Romania, Jonathan Scheele, said that "it wouldn’t be a direct impact. Such an event consumes time and energy required for solving other problems. It all depends on the amount of energy consumed with such an event”.

Source: Curentul

Posted by Mihai Botea : 2/22/2005 08:08:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
A 3,000 sqm industrial park will be added to the stock of the industrial spaces located in the north-eastern area of Bucharest, according to Muler Onofrei, senior broker within the industrial space department of Eurisko.

The park is made up of a 1,500 sqm building already completed and a second 600 sqm building that is to become operational by the end of the year. The 700 sqm storage area of the existing building is structured on two levels, semi-basement and ground floor.

Office spaces of 300 sqm office are available on the first floor of the building. It is equipped with the latest cooling systems, two elevators for goods, and three doors with 1.20 meters high loading and unloading platforms.

Industrial parks in Romania have been promoted through government ordinance no.65, approved by Law no.490 in July 2002, as the authorities showed serious commitment to boosting business investments into the Romania.

Industrial parks are defined as special regime areas that offer financial and fiscal facilities to Romanian and foreign companies involved in manufacturing operations and related services. The authority in charge of giving the go-ahead for the creation of industrial parks is the Regional National Development Agency (RNDA), which is also responsible for the management and distribution of funds to promote investments into these areas.

The initiative was in line with other incentives, mostly fiscal, which Romania has sought to provide, in recent years, to small and medium sized enterprises or to certain types of economic activity in areas identified as disadvantaged or in free trade zones.

Currently, in Romania there are over 37 industrial parks. Here is a map of the industrial parks, courtesy of ARISInvest.ro


Posted by Mihai Botea : 2/22/2005 05:36:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
According to the European Pre-Accession Program for 2004, which the government sent last Friday to Brussels, the current account deficit was 7.6% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The worrying result was chiefly fueled by the trade deficit, which surged to 5.53 billion euros, or up 42.2% in 2004 compared to the previous year.

Furthermore, the revenue deficit increased from 1.19 billion euros to 1.36 billion euros.

The surge in current transfers, representing money Romanian citizens working abroad send into the country, from a little over 2 billion euros in 2003 to about 2.5 billion euros last year, managed to partially compensate the negative trends reported in the other sectors forming the trade balance.

This year, Romanian authorities negotiated a deficit narrowing to 6.8-7% of GDP with the International Monetary Fund.

Romania's average and long-term foreign debt increased by 11.9% last year, up to 17.5 billion euros, as state-warranted debts for the public sector boomed, coupled with an increase in credits for the private sector.

According to National Bank of Romania data, the country's foreign debts dropped from 6.5% billion euros in 2004 to 6.4 billion euros at the end of last year, as Romania paid back 825 million euros.

In return, state-warranted credits surged from 3.2 billion euros to 3.7 billion euros at the end of last year. The private sector filed for loans amounting to 7.2 billion euros in 2004, up from prior results indicating 5.6 billion euros.

BNR Governor Mugur Isarescu recently stated the national bank is estimating an economic growth pace of 8.3% for Romania in 2004.

Posted by Iulia Rasoiu : 2/22/2005 09:35:00 am
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
Two major Indian carmakers are eyeing the Romanian tractor company Tractorul SA Brasov, which is up for privatization.

Utility vehicle and farm equipment maker Mahindra & Mahindra has expressed interest in the company, according to the Economic Times.

A high profile Romanian delegation is scheduled to visit India next week to meet potential investors interested in the privatization process. The delegation which includes the governor and mayor of Brasov - where the Tractorul plant is based - will be in India to meet the M&M officials.

The 80-year-old Romanian company has also attracted interest from Samko Holding of Turkey.

Posted by Iulia Rasoiu : 2/22/2005 09:19:00 am
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
Indian car maker Mahindra and Mahindra (M&M) could form a mixed company with French car maker Renualt to manufacture its Logan model in India, says India Daily online edition.

Several sources said Logans will be initially traded on the Indian market under the Nissan brand due to the Japanese brands' success on the Indian market.

This year, Logan will be sold in 36 countries.

Posted by Iulia Rasoiu : 2/22/2005 09:15:00 am
Business in Romania blog
Saturday, February 19, 2005
Business in Romania blog
Sorry to announce this so late, but maybe you can still make it, those of you interested in the matter:

Tomorrow is the last day of the franchise show in Bucharest. The show started on Friday and it lasts until Sunday, 20th of February. It takes place at World Trade Plaza in Bucharest and you can reach it tomorrow until 15:00.

Also, from 10:00 to 14:00 you can attend the The Franchise in Romania" seminar held at the Beijing conference room in World Trade Plaza.

And a little tip if you still have doubts about the franchise system. In Romania there are currently operating more than 170 franchise businesses and the success rate for newly opened franchise in Romania is estimated at 93%.

Find more info on: www.rofranciza.ro, www.franciza.ro and www.thinkbig.ro.


Posted by Mihai Botea : 2/19/2005 10:04:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Friday, February 18, 2005
Business in Romania blog
The contract stipulates that EADS is to provide surveillance and security equipment worth 650 million euros and includes the possibility of a sub-contract worth 350 million euros.

The German company is to distribute equipment for the security of 3,147 kilometers of the border and will also take charge of coordinating the modernization of border police equipment, technical training centers, helicopters and ships.

The contract is one of the most controversial deals of the former government.

Media, President Traian Basescu and several current officials criticized the former government's decision to accept the TETRAPOL system for border security, which is not generally accepted by the EU, being considered too expensive and inefficient.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu decided to make the contract public and to renegotiate some of its clauses and its estimated costs.

Information on the MAI website states the contact will be renegotiated as several border security programs, financed by the EU, cover the same works as the EADS contract.

On the other hand, the contract only covers the border in six counties and not all nine of the future EU border after 2007. The most sensitive area, the border with Ukraine (Satu Mare, Maramures and Suceava counties) is not covered, the MAI said.

Posted by Iulia Rasoiu : 2/18/2005 12:36:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
Hungary will invest 410,000 euros in Romania to build IT centers for the areas where the ethnic Hungarian population is largely concentrated, the Hungarian Internet Technology Minister Kalman Kovacs said.

Kovacs has already hold talks with his Romanian counterpart, Zsolt Nagy, to develop such projects.

The two countries plan to collaborate and develop projects in other markets as well and jointly support their interests in the European Union.

Hungary also plans to spend another 920,000 euros in 2005 to develop the IT infrastructure in other neighboring countries, besides Romania, in areas where many Hungarian citizens live.

Posted by Iulia Rasoiu : 2/18/2005 12:28:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Thursday, February 17, 2005
Business in Romania blog
One of the banks present in the Romanian market that profit over the growth in the retail banking market it seems to be Raiffeisen Bank. With a boost of net profit of 500%, and overall growth of 60% (Steven van Groningen says that in a recent article in "Adevarul" newspaper), the bank managed to outperform the already surprisingly market boost (40%).

In 2004 they had a share of 10% of the Romanian banking sector.

Posted by Mircea : 2/17/2005 03:44:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
Romsoft signed a distribution contract with Kaspersky, within the company's strategy to offer a complete antivirus and data security solution.

"The interest area of our clients lately broadened, including now Internet access solutions. Through the partnership with Kaspersky, we answer the new needs of our clients, protecting them against cyber-threats", Romsoft officials say.

Kaspersky Labs offers solutions against all types of cyber threats: hackers, spam and viruses. The solution also includes a "personal firewall", Kaspersky Anti-Hacker, and a spam filter, Kaspersky Anti-Spam.

The company also offers consultancy and anti virus database updates every 3 hours.

Posted by Mihai Botea : 2/17/2005 02:44:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
New passenger car sales in Romania rose 100.5% year-on-year in January, to 12,512 units, the Romanian Car Producers and Importers Association (APIA) said on Wednesday. The trade association also reported a strong month for production: Romania produced 11,927 automobiles in January, or 88% more than it did over the same month of last year.

Sales and production in Romania are being boosted by the impact of the start-up of production of the Dacia Logan.

The overall production of motor vehicles, including trucks and buses, for the period also rose, to 13,558 units, for a 75.3% gain, APIA said in its monthly bulletin.

Romania's three carmakers - Dacia, Daewoo and Aro - exported 2,745 vehicles in January, up 253.3% compared to the same month of 2004. The vast majority - 2,717 units - were passenger cars.

Dacia launched the Logan in September of last year and the report said that the company has received more than 40,000 orders for the affordable car, aimed at emerging markets.

APIA estimates the Logan will lead the forecast 50% rise in production and 200% increase in exports this year.

Car production in Romania rose 30.8% in Romania last year, to 98,997 units.

The APIA expects sales of motor vehicles, including cars, trucks and buses, to reach 200,000 units this year, up 10% on the year. New passenger car sales totalled 145,120 in 2004, up 35.9% from 2003.

Posted by Mihai Botea : 2/17/2005 12:47:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Wednesday, February 16, 2005
Business in Romania blog
Brand Academy recently released a study about the most popular Romanian brands over the Internet. The purpose of the study was identifying the most popular 25 brands and what industry they come from.

The results show that BitDefender is the most popular brand, followed by Dacia and Ana Aslan. On the fourth and fifth place come RAV and Mircea Eliade.

Adrian Mutu is placed on seventh position, Nadia Comaneci comes on 12 while Gheorghe Hagi is placed on 15th position.

In terms of industry, 54% of the brands are economic ones, 21% are cultural and about 12% are from sports.

I would be very interested in the methodology of the study....what was the brands list they searched for, what search engine did they use, how did they exclude irrelevant results.

For example, a simple search shows that Nicolae Ceausescu has more results on Google that Gheorghe Hagi. Also, "Marea Neagra", Ion Iliescu and other show a good deal of results.

Posted by Mihai Botea : 2/16/2005 07:17:00 am
Business in Romania blog
Tuesday, February 15, 2005
Business in Romania blog
In the last days everybody in Romania could notice the chaos on the exchange market. Yesterday, the EUR lost another 500 lei and was placed at an exchange rate of 35.515 lei, according to National Bank of Romania (NBR). The dealers could notice how EUR was losing about 200 lei from one hour to the other. The European currency was traded at rates as low as 35.030 lei on the market.

In such conditions, the chances of making a profit out of exchange trading are almost zero.

Last week, EUR lost about 2.000 lei. In the previous months, the dealers could blame this trend on the large selling of EUR on the market, but now the effect of the trading seems to be extreme.

Some dealers say that the EUR dropping is also caused by everybody expecting NBR to enter the market and buy the extra EUR, but this is not happening for the moment. NBR is not present on the exchange market, so the rates are getting lower each day.

Some analysts expect that EUR will drop to about 34.000 or even 33.000 lei in the following days if NBR stays out of the market. The previous days showed that nothing can stop the LEU in getting more powerful each day.

Still, on the street the good effects of this trend cannot be seen. The prices stay the same, even on products that are priced based on EUR. Everybody wants to get a share of the pie, so they will not make price adjustments until the trend is stable.

The bad side of the story is felt by the exporters. Mihai Ionescu, CEO of the National Association of Exporters and Importers stated that about 90% of the exporters are one step away from bankruptcy because of the chaos on the exchange market. The only way they could protect themselves is by forward contracts. For example, if someone made a forward contract a couple of months ago, they would have a 38.000 lei / EUR quotation which would bring them a lot of money these days.

Also, a lot of Romanian companies are paying employee salaries based on EUR or USD. So, in this case, either the company agrees to fix the EUR / LEU rate and pay the salaries at, let's say, 38.000 lei / 1 EUR - case in which they lose a lot of money -, either the employees get the pressure, as they will have much lower earnings at the end of the month.

Either way, the chaos is not good for anyone. Dragos has a nice point of view on what can be done in order to prevent losing good incomes these days.

UPDATE: I recently found out, thanks to IULIA, that NBR today bought 100 milion EUR on the exchange market. This raised the exchange rate with about 1.000 lei. This way, the exchange rate for today was 36.738 lei / EUR.

Posted by Mihai Botea : 2/15/2005 07:49:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
ZTE Corporation, China's largest listed telecommunications manufacturer and leading wireless solution provider, announced plans to bring its technology to ten European countries within the next five months.

The planned roadshow – the first of its kind for ZTE in Europe – will visit Turkey, Greece, Romania, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland, Germany, France, Spain and Portugal between March and July this year. On display will be ZTE's advanced wireless technology and solutions for the 3G era, including the Corporation's industry-leading WCDMA V3 system, next generation networks and a wide range of 3G services.

ZTE has established 14 offices in Europe and has already worked successfully with European partners to develop solutions across the continent: in Romania ZTE worked with Postelecom to establish the world's first national next generation network; in Greece, ZTE provided an ADSL network to OTE for the 2004 Olympic Games.

Posted by Mihai Botea : 2/15/2005 10:23:00 am
Business in Romania blog
Monday, February 14, 2005
Business in Romania blog
The State intends to replace the top management of the Romanian Commercial Bank (BCR) in which the State is the largest shareholder.

Nicolae Danila, currently the executive president of the bank, may be replaced by Mihai Bogza, formerly a vice governor of the National Bank of Romania.

EBRD and IFC, holders of an aggregate 25% in the bank, have agreed with the move. T

he Government denied the rumors saying their priority was to privatize BCR under the best terms.

Posted by Iulia Rasoiu : 2/14/2005 09:30:00 am
Business in Romania blog
Friday, February 11, 2005
Business in Romania blog
Lucire, the first fashion Web site to spawn a print edition, has announced that it will launch in Romania. The magazine is bullish about the move being "pioneering." According to founding publisher Jack Yan, it is the first time a fashion title has gone truly global, with satellite editions having largely the same content as the master one, save for linguistic differences.

Lucire will be co-published at PIXART in Oradea in western Romania and joins a stable of two other titles there, Revista Aeroportului Oradea (Oradea airport magazine) and BH Business, a business magazine dedicated to the Bihor area. Both have been well received.

"Lucire made us a very good impression due to the content and quality, and we are sure that it will become a market leader in a short time in Romania," said Mirella Lapusca, Romanian publisher of Lucire.

Posted by Mihai Botea : 2/11/2005 05:18:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Thursday, February 10, 2005
Business in Romania blog
Since we were kids they were telling jokes about the weatherman and the weather predictions. Well, it seems that the weather forecast is not just some sort of playing with the stars and guessing what tommorow can bring you, but it's actually a science.

A science where people can make mistakes and get FIRED for them.

So it happened in Romania, where the head weatherman was sacked for lousy forecasts. Ion Poiana, head of Romania's National Meteorology Agency, was fired for not delivering reliable forecasts.

For example, he failed to predict a recent cold snap which left three people dead, the Black Sea frozen and a record temperature of minus 36C.

Suulfina Barbu, environmental ministry, said:

"We consider the modern facilities for meteo prognosis were not used properly and mayors from all the country received wrong warnings. For example the mayor of Bucharest should have banned traffic according to the forecast he received."

Still, in Bucharest the weather hasn't changed....


Posted by Mihai Botea : 2/10/2005 05:48:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
BVB indices yesterday fell to new lows after the IMF requested 1o times higher taxes on capital gains.

The BVB trading session was interrupted yesterday because of technical problems with one of the two electronic trading systems.

Transactions were halted in order to ensure fairness to investors. Trading resumed at 2 p.m., and the session was prolonged an hour after the regular closing time.

The two stock markets' indices yesterday fell by an average of 5 percentage points, continuing Tuesday's downward trend witnessed on suspicions the government will increase capital gains taxes from 1% to 10% beginning in April, as required by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The three indices of the Bucharest Stock Exchange (BVB) yesterday recorded another fall, after they dipped Tuesday by an average of 6%, when 50 of the 63 listed companies reported losses.

Thus, the BET index, based on the 10 most liquid listed companies, dropped by 5.59% in mid trading, a gap which increased to 5.64% at closing.
The BET lost 318.17 points going down to 5,325.66 points.
The BET-C index, reflecting the BVB's general trend, dropped by 5.41% in mid trading, but it reduced the handicap at closing when it stood at 3,423.80 points.
The index showing the trend of the five financial investment companies (SIFs) finished the day at 25,611.30, which was 4.03% (1,076.19 points) lower than the previous trading session.






Posted by Iulia Rasoiu : 2/10/2005 10:56:00 am
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
Rompetrol, Romania's second largest oil group, yesterday said it has established a subsidiary in Albania, which will sell the group's oil products nationally and in the neighboring states.

Among the new states, the group is eyeing Kosovo, Macedonia and Montenegro, where it has already started negotiations with several dealers.

Rompetrol Albania operates a 14,000 oil ton deposit in Durres, a western harbor.

Bogdan Costache, director at Rompetrol Albania, said the Romanian oil group decided to expand in Albania as the country is almost "virgin," where the world's largest oil companies have not yet entered.

Besides its activities in Romania, the group also controls a subsidiary in Bulgaria and another in the Republic of Moldova.
Romeptrol is also planning to expand in Turkey, the group's official said

Posted by Iulia Rasoiu : 2/10/2005 10:44:00 am
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
Dusan Wilms, director of the metro Cash & Carry Romania company, was appointed as regional manager for Southern and Eastern Europe, a company release said.

At the same time, he will be the director of the Romanian branch by April 1, when Bert van der Velde, administrative director of the local branch, officially replaces him.

Wilms has directed Metro Romania since 1998 and also manages the company's operations in the Republici of Moldova.

The first Metro store in Romania opened in 1996. Presently, there are 21 stores, in Bucharest, Brasov, Timisoara, Constanta, Bacau, Craiova, Ploiesti and Galati.



Posted by Iulia Rasoiu : 2/10/2005 10:13:00 am
Business in Romania blog
Wednesday, February 09, 2005
Business in Romania blog
  1. The increase of taxes on interest from 1% to 10% starting April 1, 2005.
  2. The increase of taxes on interest for non-residents' incomes from 5% to 10% starting April 1, 2005.
  3. The increase of taxes on capital profits from 1% to 10% starting April 1, 2005.
  4. The increase of taxes on real estate transactions for legal entities from 10% to 16%
  5. The reduction of production expenses and services.
  6. The reduction of state aid and transfers.
  7. The current account deficit for 2004 to be set at 7.2 percent.
  8. Completion of the privatization of electric power distribution (Electrica Banat, Dobrogea, Moldova and Oltenia and Electrica Muntenia Sud) as well as three other energy complexes (Turceni, Rovinari and Craiova).
  9. The privatization of the Romanian Savings Bank and the Romanian Commercial Bank
  10. The privatization or elimination of Electroputere, Tractorul and Rulmentul, three large companies which remain under the control of the Authority for the Recovery of State Assets (AVAS).
  11. Selling three small companies under AVAS control each semester.
  12. Leasing 3,000 km. of rail lines.
  13. Laying off 6,000 miners in two stages.
  14. The median salary in 2005 will be 244 euros.
  15. Incresed prices of 20-25 % of current prices. On the first of April the price of gas will be 74 euros per thousand cubic meters and will increase in July to 82 euros per thousand cubic meters and to 86 euros in October.
  16. The cost for thermal power will see a 20 percent increase on July 1, 2005.
  17. Simultaneous tax increases will be made for mineral oils, tobacco and alcohol, according to previous agreements with the EU.
  18. The capital account liberalization, which will be completed by this summer in response to the European Commission's request to do so. At the beginning of last year, the Romanian National Bank postponed the next stage of the capital account liberalization and established that people without a legal residence will have access to short term lei deposits by April, at the latest.Afterwards, the IMF representative in Bucharest, Graeme Justice said, the liberalization can only be done in the first half of this year if government expenses are seriously reduced. Regardless, the IMF would not be willing to postpone the liberalization.

Posted by Iulia Rasoiu : 2/09/2005 09:14:00 am
Business in Romania blog
Tuesday, February 08, 2005
Business in Romania blog
Research and Markets (http://www.researchandmarkets.com/reports/c12714) has announced the addition of Romania Medical Device Market Outlook Report to their offering.

The main key figures in the report are:

In 2005, the Romanian market for medical equipment and supplies is estimated at US$240.9 million, or US$11 per capita. It is expected that the device market will continue to expand at a rate of 6.4% per annum. This will take the Romanian market to US$329 million in 2010. Around 92% of the medical device market is supplied by imports. The USA and Germany are the leading suppliers, accounting for over 60% of imports in 2002. The domestic production of medical devices contributes little towards the market size in Romania, and as a result, the value of exports is low.




Posted by Mihai Botea : 2/08/2005 09:17:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
Romania ranks 14th in the list of countries most preferred by foreign companies looking to relocate their activity, according to a new study.

Romania reached a score of 7.08 points and was behind Bulgaria, with 7.09 points and Slovakia, with 7.12 points.

India ranks first in the chart made by EIU, with 7.76 points, having very low workforce costs, high skill levels of its graduates and a well-developed law system.

According to the analysis, India is the favorite destination for foreign companies' activity relocation. India lured investors from the U.S. and the U.K., who mainly preferred telecommunications and IT.

China ranks second, with 7.34 points, followed by the Czech Republic, with 7.26 points.

The survey, by Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), a division of The Economist, with IT service providers Oracle and Dimension Data, concerned sixty countries and was based on information provided by 500 mangers from 75 countries.

The analysis took into account nine categories of indices, such as geographical proximity, political and security risks, economic stability, legislation, taxation, labor costs and skills level and infrastructure.

The scores given to countries considered by the survey ranged from 1 to 10 points. The final mark is calculated as a weighted average of the scores for each of the nine main categories.

Workforce costs and skills level are the most important in calculating the final score, comprising 30% of the final score. Labor legislation accounts for 10%, while the other six categories account for 5% of the final score assigned to a country.

The highest score given to Romania was 9.49, for the workforce cost category. The lowest workforce costs worldwide belong to Nigeria, which received 10 points for this chapter, followed by Indonesia, with 9.91 points, Pakistan, with 9.84 points, Ecuador, with 9.82 points, the Philippines, with 9.8 points and Ukraine, with 9.79 points.

Romania received 8.35 points for the geographical proximity chapter and 7.2 points for each for the economic stability, as well as political and security risks.
Its lowest scores referred to the infrastructure chapter, with 4.6 points, and qualification and availability of the workforce, with 5.55 points.
Legislation received 5.75 points, taxation was given 6.5 points, while labor legislation received 6 points.
Romania overtook Bulgaria in the taxation chapter, as well as in the qualification and availability of the workforce category.


Posted by Iulia Rasoiu : 2/08/2005 09:59:00 am
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
Central European University Business School announces the official launching of the Master of Science in Information Technology Management Program in Romania. The MSc in IT Management Program is an American management degree that is much more specialized than a general MBA. The program focuses on the relevant management issues in the IT discipline across various industries, providing a unique blend of both technology and business management skills development.

Find more about CEU Business School HERE.

Posted by Mihai Botea : 2/08/2005 04:39:00 am
Business in Romania blog
Monday, February 07, 2005
Business in Romania blog
Recently the magazine Business 2.0 published a top of "The 101 Dumbest Moments in Business".

For example, Kryptonite, a bike-lock maker found out that one of its long lasting products (30 years) can be picked with a Bic pen. Thus, the company's slogan "Tough World, Tough Locks" remains only "Tough World...".

You can find out more about companies like Smith & Wesson, Bank of Ireland, Microsoft and many others at:
http://www.business2.com/b2/web/dumbest/2005/1/0,22933,,00.html

I will add the 102 dumbest moment in business - a local example.

Some papers wrote about the mistakes of Quadrant Amroq Beverages (Pepsi) and Vitarom. After having to retreat from the market the mineral water brand - Perla, and launching a new brand "Roua".... it seems that they didn't get out of trouble: the labels for this product don't refer to the source site, and they promote the idea of "pure" which seems to be against with another law that says "all mineral waters are pure", thus the promotion becomes misleading.

Posted by Mircea : 2/07/2005 11:37:00 am
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
Ireland plans to open embassies in Bulgaria and Romania in line with its policy to have diplomatic missions in each EU member country.

Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern announced on Thursday the Foreign Affairs Ministry of the country was just ahead of opening embassies in Latvia, Lithuania and Malta, three of the latest EU-joined states.

urrently, Ireland's ambassador to Greece represents his country's interests also in Bulgaria and Romania.

Posted by Iulia Rasoiu : 2/07/2005 10:24:00 am
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
The Renault Nissan synergy last Thursday launched the Romanian model Dacia Logan on the Slovenian market, where 600 units are forecast to be sold, the Romanian Embassy in Slovenia said in a release.

As of this year, the Logan will be traded in 36 countries, where the Romanian company hopes to sell some 60,000 units.

The Logan was launched in Romania in September 2004 and will become Dacia's sole model as of April this year, when production of the Solenza is to cease.

Posted by Iulia Rasoiu : 2/07/2005 09:57:00 am
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
Students from Southeast Europe will be able to train in a joint Bulgarian-Romanian university center, under an agreement signed on Friday by Foreign Affairs Minister Mihai Razvan Ungureanu and his Bulgarian counterpart Solomon Passy.

The project will provide training in the universities of Russe and Giurgiu, cities on the Bulgarian and Romanian bank of the Danube River.



Posted by Iulia Rasoiu : 2/07/2005 09:55:00 am
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
The National Bank of Kuwait (NBK) has recently launched an investment fund for Central and Eastern Europe, including Romania, targeting the real estate sector in the region.

The Watani Central European Real Estate Fund targets to benefit from EU expansion, while the minimum amount to be invested in each project is 500,000 euros, according to NBK director George Nasra.

Posted by Iulia Rasoiu : 2/07/2005 09:54:00 am
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
The Austrian division of the underwear manufacturer Triumph Holding decided to transfer part of its production to Romania, after signing a contract with a Romanian company.

Triumph says the move is being made because of cheaper labor costs.

The lingerie was made by the Hungarian company Kapuvar Clothing Manufacturers.

The move will axe 105 jobs from a total of 250. T


Posted by Iulia Rasoiu : 2/07/2005 09:51:00 am
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
Excises for leasing-purchased cars will no longer be calculated for the entry value of those cars until the leasing legislation is complete, according to the new rules of the Fiscal Code approved on Thursday by the government.

Customs and other taxes were added to the entry value of the cars.

The ordinance 51/1997 concerning leasing will be changed in order to include clear stipulations on the fiscal regime of leasing operations.


Posted by Iulia Rasoiu : 2/07/2005 09:49:00 am
Business in Romania blog
Sunday, February 06, 2005
Business in Romania blog
It's been a month already since the new flat tax was adopted ....

Bad news

Although small and medium enterprise implemented the new tax system without reporting any major issues, the surprise came from some well known companies. For example Telemobil (Zapp as we know it), refused to major the salaries for his employees ... The company's management decided to update the salaries only after three months and only by individual case analysis / appraisal. Ignoring that this policy is contradiction with the law, some companies (for my surprise some of the major companies) decided to keep the revenues generated by the new tax system for themselves.

Worse news

It seems that the government initial plans regarding the resources to finance lower tax income were not so well elaborated. After the negotiations with IMF it seems Romanians will have higher prices on gas (up 31% - 5% in January, 26% in april), electric energy (up 10-11% - 5% in January, 5-6% in April) and some other taxes might increase more or sooner then expected.

I wonder what other surprises will expect us ...

Posted by Mircea : 2/06/2005 10:41:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Saturday, February 05, 2005
Business in Romania blog
Since the fall of communism in Romania, Italy has become its top commercial partner, taking 24 percent of Romania's exports and providing 20 percent of its imports, mainly machinery, cars, food and consumer goods.

There are already more than 16,000 Italian companies in Romania, most based in Western cities and in the capital, Bucharest. The region of Timisoara, with some 1,400 Italian businesses, has given western region a reputation as Romania's "little Italy."

Italian companies invested more than EUR 530 million ($689 million) in 2004 in Romania.


Posted by Mihai Botea : 2/05/2005 01:46:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Friday, February 04, 2005
Business in Romania blog
UPC Romania published a pan-european study about TV watchers habits.

You can find the results for Europe HERE and the results for Romania HERE (romanian only).


Posted by Mihai Botea : 2/04/2005 11:49:00 am
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
The government yesterday authorized the Economy and Trade Ministry (MEC) to sign the privatization contracts of two branches of the local power plant Electrica, namely Electrica Moldova and Electrica Oltenia.

Germany's E.ON and Czechs from CEZ will buy the two companies.

The contracts could be signed within 10 days after the decision was enforced.

CEZ and E.ON submitted final offers to take over the two Electrica branches at the end of November.


Posted by Iulia Rasoiu : 2/04/2005 09:38:00 am
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
Banca Transilvania (BT) yesterday said it has launched, jointly with Credisson, a co-branded credit card targeting private individuals earning more than 100 euros per month.

The credit limit ranges from 300 to 2,500 euros.

The new product includes, besides the credit card Visa Classic Credisson BT, two debit cards issued by MasterCard or Visa.

The product is BT's third co-branded card, after the bank launched similar products jointly with Visa Electron Maxishop and Euro 26.



Posted by Iulia Rasoiu : 2/04/2005 09:35:00 am
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
Interest given by the Finance Ministry for treasury bills launched in the local banking market dropped below the 10% level on Thursday, down to 7.9% per year for bonds maturing in 5 years and to 8.9% for a 2-year term bond.

According to a release from the Ministry, the State Treasury yesterday sold total bonds worth 1,000 billion ROL (27 million euros).

The 2-year bond issue accounts for 600 billion ROL (16 million euros), while its interest fell by 2.59% compared to the previous issuance from December last year.



Posted by Iulia Rasoiu : 2/04/2005 09:25:00 am
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
The Romanian Commercial Bank (BCR) will be privatized by the first quarter of 2006 at the latest, said Prime Minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu on Wednesday evening.

The move comes in response to the demands of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Last year, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the investment division of the World Bank, each bought a 12.5% stake plus one share in BCR for a total of $222 million.
The Romanian state holds a 44% stake in BCR while five local investment funds split the remaining shares equally.
The EBRD and IFC promised a swift restructuring program at BCR to make it more efficient and prepare it for privatization in 2006.
The two lenders will sell back the combined stake if Romania finds a strategic investor interested in buying a majority stake in the local bank.

Established in 1990, BCR is the largest Romanian bank in terms of assets, which accounted for 5 billion euros at the end of the first half of last year.

It has 4.6 million customers, a network of 315 branches and employs 12,000 people.

Expected to report a net profit of 151 million euros in 2004, it was awarded a 'BB-' last year with a stable outlook by Standard & Poor's and B1/NP/D by Moody's.



Posted by Iulia Rasoiu : 2/04/2005 09:20:00 am
Business in Romania blog
Thursday, February 03, 2005
Business in Romania blog
Liviu Voinea published an article in CAPITAL's latest issue about "how long it takes to open a new business in Romania". (Romanian version only).

I read the article and it seems to me totaly unprofessionaly written and documented.

First of all, he takes his personal case and he seems to be very personal about the subject. It's like he wrote the article being quite frustrated about his insuccess. I believe a business reporter should try to be more objective in order to present a clear view for foreign investors.

The line that intrigued me most was "It would seem ok to me that the process would take one day: you give the Personal Number or the Social Security number (like in the US) and you register it electonically". Well, Liviu, actually it takes more than one day to register a company in the US. Official statistics say it takes 5 days and 210 USD.

Of course, its less than Romania (where official statistics made by the World Bank say it takes 28 calendar days compared to Liviu's estimation of 45 days). But still, Romania is quite performant in this case compared to Germany, Poland, Bulgaria and other European countries.

For those of you interested in this subject, I recommand you to read THIS ARTICLE, written in a more professional manner and based on official statistics, not only on a personal example.


Posted by Mihai Botea : 2/03/2005 01:12:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
The Italian company SIA, which designed services and solutions for the banking and financial community in Romania, yesterday opened its first branch in Bucharest.

The office was inaugurated by the Italian Minister for Production Activities, Adofo Urso.


Posted by Iulia Rasoiu : 2/03/2005 09:43:00 am
Business in Romania blog
Wednesday, February 02, 2005
Business in Romania blog
International hotel chain Best Western said on Tuesday its consolidated revenue and occupancy rate in Romania rose by some 10% in 2004.

The seven hotels in Romania that are part of the Best Western chain, reported a combined turnover of nearly 12 million euro ($15.6 million), Best Western co-ordinator for Romania Malin Malineanu said in a statement.

Best Western planned to allow another two hotels to join the chain as affiliates last year, but the contracts were not finalised by the end of 2004. The hotels, located in Iasi and Galati, will be affiliated this year, the company said.

Best Western chain in Romania includes the following hotels: Parc in Bucharest, Central in Arad and Ambassador in Timisoara, western Romania, Topaz in Cluj, northwestern Romania, Balvanyos in Covasna, central Romania, Savoy in the Black Sea resort Mamaia and Bucovina in Gura Humorului, northeastern Romania. The three- and four-star hotels have a total of 740 rooms.

The chain's long-term target is to have one hotel in every large Romanian city, taking the number to 50 affiliate hotels by 2010, Malineanu said earlier.

Best Western (www.bestwestern.com) claims to be the world's largest hotel chain with more than 4,000 hotels in 80 countries.

Posted by Mihai Botea : 2/02/2005 05:19:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
Standard & Poor's (S&P) Ratings Services revised its outlook on Romania to positive from stable.

At the same time, the 'BB+' long-term and 'B' short-term foreign currency, and the 'BBB-' long-term and 'A-3' short-term local currency sovereign credit ratings on Romania were affirmed.



Posted by Iulia Rasoiu : 2/02/2005 09:08:00 am
Business in Romania blog
Tuesday, February 01, 2005
Business in Romania blog
Catalin Mitulescu, who also won a Palme D'or for his short film "Trafic" is one of the four winners of this year's Sundance/NHK International Awards for filmmakers.

The project with which Mitulescu won the award is entitled "How I Spent the End of the World," the story of a seven-year old boy from the suburbs of Bucharest in the last years of Ceausescu's dictatorship.
The film represents Mitulescu's debut with a full-length film, after he obtained a Palme d'Or at Cannes this year for the short film "Trafic."
He has also directed short films, "17 Minutes Late" and "Bucharest-Vienna 8:15."
The other three winners of the Sundance/NHK Awards were Rodrigo Moreno from Latin America for "The Minder," Richard Press from the U.S. for "VirTUAL Love" and Mipo Oh from Japan for "Yomomama Blues."

The four winners from Europe, Latin America, the U.S. and Japan will each receive 10,000 dollars and their films will be broadcast by the Japanese TV station NHK (Nippon Hoso Kyokai, Japan's largest broadcasting organization).

The winners were announced on Thursday during a party and the awards were presented to them on Saturday during the Sundance Festival Awards ceremony.

These annual awards, created in 1996 by the Sundance Institute and Japan Broadcasting Corporation, are a reward for innovative directors worldwide.


Posted by Iulia Rasoiu : 2/01/2005 10:46:00 am
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
Two Romanian mayors, from Deva and Botosani, together with representatives of the Parliament and from private companies form the Romanian delegation scheduled to meet the billionaire.

Deva's mayor, Mircia Muntean, was to meet Bill Gates yesterday in the Czech capital of Prague.

Muntean said the purpose of the meeting is a large investment technology project that is going to be carried out in Hunedoara County.

"We want to start an investment in the software domain and that's why I am going to meet Bill Gates," Muntean said, adding that he will also tell Gates about the young men in Hunedoara who work in international companies.

The mayor will also let Gates know about the strong labor force in the county and about the reform that affects the county's economy.




Posted by Iulia Rasoiu : 2/01/2005 10:39:00 am
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
The Nabucco project was launched in 2002 through a cooperation agreement between natural gas transport companies Botas (Turkey), Bulgargaz (Bulgaria), Transgaz (Romania), MOL (Hungary) and OMV Gas (Austria). Each company controls 20% in the project.
The feasibility study for the gas pipe line crossing Romania is to begin in March, the Economy and Trade Minister said yesterday.

The 4.6 billion euro Nabucco gas pipeline will cross Romania linking the Caspian Sea region to Central Europe.

Construction of the 3,400 kilometer long pipe is scheduled to be completed in 2010.

Each participating country in the consortium will have to build the section that crosses through its territory.


Posted by Iulia Rasoiu : 2/01/2005 09:21:00 am
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog


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