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.

Saturday, October 30, 2004
Business in Romania blog
MinMet plc, the international mining and exploration group, announces that subsequent to an evaluation of its operation
in Romania, it has granted a Romanian licence to Transgold S.A ("Transgold"),
its partner in the Baia Mare project. This licence permits Transgold to utilise
the EMML Process on the existing Baia Mare project and also to investigate its
application on additional resources in Romania. Transgold will, in particular,
target the long established producing gold district of the Carpathian Belt.
Eurogold is a 50% shareholder in Transgold.

Under this new licence, all future operational aspects involving test work,
permitting, transportation of ore and processing in Romania will be financed by
Transgold. MinMet will continue to receive a modified royalty of up to US$2/t
for ongoing projects focused around Baia Mare and has agreed with Transgold an
additional royalty of US$10/oz of gold produced from new projects in Romania
utilising the EMML Process.

Posted by Mihai : 10/30/2004 02:24:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Friday, October 29, 2004
Business in Romania blog
On my way from Munich last week I saw in 8 hours about 8 trucks full of Logans going out of the country...Seems Dacia is doing pretty well.

As one reputated auto magazine from Romania said, with 7500 Euro (the price of an average Logan) you can only buy heated windows, leather and nice paining for a Mercedes....but the car is extra-price.

You can see a nice history of Dacia being bought by Renault here.

Posted by Mihai : 10/29/2004 06:14:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
Alexander Krasner (Alro president), Peter Braun (vice president) and Sam Manaktala (a board member) from ALRO Slatina resigned today, unofficial sources say. The resignations will be made official on 18 November. It is expected that also the financial manager will resign.

The resignations might be connected to Russian businessman Vitali Mischitsky, the man that is believed to be the "man from behind" in ALRO's ownership.

More details in the following days.

Posted by Mihai : 10/29/2004 06:05:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
Bulgaria is qualified to join the European Union but Romania should accelerate its reforms so that it can sign an accession treaty as planned early next year, the Dutch EU presidency said.

"I think that developments in Bulgaria are extremely positive in economic fields and other fields so Bulgaria really qualifies for membership," Dutch Deputy Prime Minister Gerrit Zalm said after a meeting with Bulgarian Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg.

"We also have Romania which is more or less in the same package,"Zalm, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, added.

"I hope that Romania will speed up its progress, then I think we can expect to sign the treaty in the first half of next year," said Zalm, standing in for Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende who is recovering form an operation.

Balkenende is expected to take up his duties as of tomorrow when he will be present at a signing ceremony in Rome for the new EU constitution.

"We should not blame Bulgaria for things that are not happening enough in Romania so my hope is more in Romania's progress than wanting to keep Bulgaria waiting," Zalm told Saxe-Coburg.

Sofia has already completed the negotiations with the EU and hopes to sign an accession treaty with the EU early next year.

In contrast to Bulgaria Romania still has to complete some areas of its entry dossier, notably in environmental, competition and legal fields. The two countries are scheduled to join the EU at the beginning of 2007.

Posted by Iulia Rasoiu : 10/29/2004 02:04:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
Ok, as I am quite a liberal person, I want to add some transparency to this blog's purpose and way of working.

Basically, we are a group of people who like to post news and analisys about business in Romania, the investing environment and more (you will find some off-topic posts here as well, and this is very fine).

This blog is currently non-profit one and it will remain this way for quite a long time I imagine.

Its purpose is to become an important source of information for foreign people interested in the Romanian business environment and for Romanian people interested in their country's business.

The ADS that you see on the top of the blog are Google ads and I hope they are relevant for you. You might use them to find more information on Romania.

Also, the money generated by these ADS will be reinvested in the blog (advertising, a more friendly domain-name, some incentives, some redesign, some strategic partnerships, etc.) The destination of those money (when they will be available) will be discussed in a completely democratic way between the contributors of this blog.

I encourage you to provide us with feedback at

All the best,
The Business-Romania-Blog Team.

Posted by Mihai : 10/29/2004 01:22:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
Fake Puma and Adidas burned down to ashes....

80% of perfumes, branded clothes, shoes and mobile phones are fake...

97% of fake computer games come from Romania....

244 millions euro annual estimated loss....

More details HERE.

Posted by Mihai : 10/29/2004 11:38:00 am
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
Seems Reader's Digest International has done some good job expanding to Romania and other East European Countries. Here is why:

In the first quarter, RDI revenues were $215 million, versus $216 million in the year-ago period. Operating profits improved to $1 million, despite an estimated $(2) million in incremental promotion expense timing, versus a loss of $(1) million in last year's quarter. Excluding the effects of foreign currency translation, revenues declined by 8 percent. Profits improved in most international markets, led by gains in the larger markets-Germany, Australia, the United Kingdom, France and Poland. Most markets benefited from lower operating costs and improved marketing execution. These improvements were partially offset by further investment in new initiatives launched last year including new market launches in Romania, Croatia, Slovenia and Ukraine, which are all performing ahead of internal expectations. The company also invested in tests of a Reiman-style magazine in Brazil and a new "English as a Second Language" product in several markets.

Read full press release here.

Posted by Mihai : 10/29/2004 11:17:00 am
Business in Romania blog
Thursday, October 28, 2004
Business in Romania blog
BUCHAREST, Oct 27 (Reuters) - The month-on-month rise in Romanian consumer prices is forecast at 0.8 percent on average for the last quarter, which will secure a single digit inflation goal, Finance Minister Mihai Tanasescu said on Wednesday.

"The average monthly inflation is estimated at 0.8 percent over October to December. This allows us to bring inflation to under 10 percent this year," Tanasescu told reporters.

Latest data showed year-on-year inflation stood at 11.1 percent last month versus 14.1 percent at the end of 2003.

Posted by Mihai : 10/28/2004 03:14:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
After a series of tops where Romania is constantly on last places, finally some good news: We are on second place (after Russia) for NATO programs.

Currently, Romania is involved in about 15 NATO programs with a total value of about 15 billion ROL. Russia is involved in about 40 projects.

Most projects involve innovations in areas like: new materials, nanotechnology, informatics.

Posted by Mihai : 10/28/2004 02:36:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
EU candidate countries Romania and Bulgaria will continue to post moderate government deficits over the next two years, while Croatia and Turkey are forecast to improve their public finances, the European Commission said. All four will record sustainable growth this year, next, and in 2006, the commission said in its autumn economic forecasts. 'In Romania and even more so in Bulgaria, general government deficits are projected to remain quite moderate,' it said. 'In Croatia and particularly in Turkey, where deficits are presently at higher levels, government deficits are expected to narrow further.' Both Romania and Bulgaria will be within the 3 pct of GDP deficit limit set under the EU's stability and growth pact. Romania's government deficit is expected to rise slightly to 1.7 pct of GDP in 2005 from 1.6 pct this year and to reach 2.2 pct in 2006. Bulgaria's deficit is seen at just 1.0 pct in 2005 compared with a projected surplus of 0.5 pct in 2004. In 2006, the budget balance is expected to be at zero. In Croatia, the budget deficit is expected to amount to 3.9 pct in 2005, down from 4.5 pct this year, and to fall to 3.6 pct during 2006. The commission said cost savings from reforms of the health sector and public administration will result a narrower deficit in 2005. Turkey's deficit for 2005 is expected to fall to 5.7 pct from a projected 7.2 pct this year, and then to decline to 5.0 pct in 2006. 'Continued fiscal discipline and declining financing costs will be key in this respect,' said the commission. Rising labour productivity and an increase in efficiency of capital stock will provide a basis for the continued expansion of GDP in the candidate countries. Growth will also be boosted by private consumption and investment, it said. Bulgaria's GDP growth rate for 2004 is expected to amount to 5.5 pct, rising to 6.0 pct in 2005 and falling off slightly to 4.5 pct in 2006. Croatia meanwhile is expected to record growth of 3.8 pct this year, 4.0 pct next year and 4.5 pct in 2006. In Romania and Turkey, the growth rates for this year will be exceptionally high but will be followed by some deceleration in 2005 and 2006. In Romania, 2004 growth is seen at 7.2 pct. In 2005, this is expected to tail off to 5.6 pct and then in 2006 to 5.1 pct. Turkey's growth rate will be 8.5 pct this year, according to the commission's forecasts. In 2005, growth is expected to amount to 5 pct and then in 2006 to 5.3 pct.

Posted by Mircea : 10/28/2004 01:54:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
I recently found the Romanian Leader Website at

It is a very interesting website, featuring analisys for economic and business news, leaders profiles for Romanian entrepreneurs and Romanian businessmen and more.

Unfortunatelly, only in english version yet.

Posted by Mihai : 10/28/2004 01:51:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
Unicredito Italiano SpA said it plans to cut about 3,000 jobs as part of its 2004-2007 business plan.

In a presentation to analysts, Unicredito said annual cost savings are scheduled to reach 263 mln eur in 2007 and rise to 293 mln after 2007, it said.

In other measures to improve synergies, the group will set up a central operating centre in Romania for its East and Central European business, it said.

On real estate rationalisation, Unicredito said it will 'optimise' its non-core assets, and the corporate structure will be rationalised with the reduction of number of units.

The bank will take a 'prudent' attitude and will not revalue its real estate nor revalue its stake in the Bank of Italy, it said.

Net profits for the group should rise by an annual average of 2-4 pct in 2005 to 2007 thanks to the change in accounting, which includes a less than 2 pct rise expected for 2005.

Under IAS, net interest income should rise, operating costs should rise because of the impact of stock option plans, goodwill depreciation will fall, and net provisions on new doubtful loans will rise, the bank said

Posted by Iulia Rasoiu : 10/28/2004 01:12:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
Not as bad as Japan, but this morning I heard that an earthquake shaked Romania...pleople all around me are talking about this...

Well, I was sleeping so I didn't feel a think but I imagine it was pretty bad (5.8 degrees on a Richter scale).

More (official) details here. Also, KIT has a good post about this, with more official links.

Posted by Mihai : 10/28/2004 11:33:00 am
Business in Romania blog
Wednesday, October 27, 2004
Business in Romania blog
Since there are only 6 days until the US elections I thought it might be interesting to read this article about the experience of an American citizen in Romania during Mr G. W. Bush visit in Bucharest.

He is is the writer and director of the anti-war trilogy of plays that began in January 2003 with The Madness of George Dubya.’ And it seems that it…al started here in Bucharest…

Posted by Cristian C. Francu : 10/27/2004 10:43:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
The third annual press freedom index report has been published here.

You can see that Romania is currently on the 70th place, while it was on 59 one year thinks are going worse, as it seems.

First place (with a score of 0,5) belongs to Denmark, Finland (also the country with the lowest corruption), Iceland, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Slovakia (!!) and Switzerland.

The last places belong to North Korea (scored 107,5), Cuba (106,83) and Burma (103,63).

Posted by Mihai : 10/27/2004 02:09:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
Romania's president, Ion Iliescu, recently made a visit together with Adrian Nastase and Mircea Geoana (PSD's candidates for the presidential / government elections) in Craiova.

Of course, he was asked by the reporters if he was doing election's campaign for Adrian Nastase and Mirce Geoana but he denied this is a very unfriendly way and using a very rood language (Romanian language: "Voi sinteti obsedati de aceasta chestie. Aici am venit in calitate de presedinte al tarii. Unde ai vazut campanie electorala in tot ce facem?! Va rog sa ma lasati in pace cu asemenea chestii!").

Going back to his behaviour, he was in the middle of a typical election's campaign, as all of the PSD staff were getting as close as possible to the crowd and were doing everything they could to become popular.

On the other hand, CURS released their latest elections report where Adrian Nastasse has about 42% and Traian Basescu has about 38%. The error margin is 2,5 percentual points , so if Adrian Nastase is in fact at 39,5% ( 42 - 2,5) and Basescu is at 40,5 (38 + 2,5) we have a winner !!

Cheers !

Posted by Mihai : 10/27/2004 01:59:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
The guys from had a great idea creating a virtual stock market for blogs.

You can add your blog for free (like doing an IPO) and then people can start traiding your stocks.

You also get some cash to start traiding on your own and get rich in fantasy-dollars.

You can start trainding stocks for the Business Romania Blog HERE.

Posted by Mihai : 10/27/2004 11:26:00 am
Business in Romania blog
Tuesday, October 26, 2004
Business in Romania blog
Here is a list of great Business Magazines around the world. Enjoy:

Comprehensive resource for local business.

Business 2.0
Quality magazine about insight, tools, and advantage in e-business.

Business Week
Prominent magazine covering global business news.

Magazine for senior executives about the effects of technology and digital strategy for modern businesses.

Dismal Scientist
Quality economic analysis and data.

Offers entrepreneurs the information, services and expert advice to ensure small business success.

Fast Company
Features the latest business news and trends, leading-edge entrepreneurs and the very fastest growing companies.

Financial Times
Leading newspaper of international business, finance, politics, and economics.

Contains articles for CEOs and individual investors alike. Articles include profiles of companies and private investors, as well as helpful statistics.

Columns include features on the marketplace, tech movers and shakers, career trends, U.S. politics, and European business.

Harvard Business Review
Premier forum of the business world written by authorities in business and business education.

Inc Magazine
Provides small business resources and advice.

My Business Magazine
Knowledge, tools and resources to help small business owners succeed.
Find interviews with CEOs, Founders, Chairmen about the issues and opportunities facing business today.

Red Herring
Technology business news, analysis, and research.

Reed Business
Portfolio of more than 100 market leading publications, newsletters, directories and reference books.

Business magazine for senior business executives.

Posted by Mihai : 10/26/2004 07:20:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
The Romanian deputies decided on Thursday that the National Company "Henri Coandă Otopeni Airport" will benefit from a tax exemption until the end of 2006. This way, the company will not pay any profit taxes until the beginning of 2007.

The airport originally benefited from a tax ecemption until 2012, but the deputies decided to shorten this period by 6 years. I wonder why ? Did they find it to be in too good condition?

Posted by Mihai : 10/26/2004 07:09:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
Oil and natural gas company Wintershall from Germany will enter in the coming weeks Romania's natural gas market, through the joint venture Wirom Gas, Ziarul Financiar daily informs. Wintershall is now extending its businesses on the Romanian market, from production and trade with natural gas imported from Russia, by setting-up local distributions in southern Romania. Wirom Gas will next week announce the setting-up of the first natural gas distribution in Turnu Magurele (south), the investment standing sat some 1.5 million euros. Wirom Gas, one of the most important importers of gas from Russia, has recently increased its share capital by 1 million euro to be able to set up gas distributions in southern Romanian localities such as Turnu Magurele, Alexandria, Oltenita and Giurgiu. Wirom Gas posted 27.2 million euros in 2003 turnover.

Posted by Mircea : 10/26/2004 03:45:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
Lakshmi Mittal, who is based in the UK, yesterday set his seal on the consolidation of the global steel industry with a $17.8bn (£10bn) double merger to create the world's largest producer. Ispat Steel, where Mr Mittal has a 77% holding, is reversing into his family's privately held LNM Group and at the same time buying America's International Steel Group.

Ispat is paying $13.3bn in shares for LNM as part of a package that will see the selling shareholders, which include the Mittal family, pick up a one-off dividend of $2bn. Meanwhile, Ispat is offering cash and paper for ISG, which values the US group at around $4.5bn.

The deal will leave the Mittal family with an 88% holding in the new entity that will be called Mittal Steel.

The group, which will have a market capitalisation of about $21bn, will have an annual production capacity of some 70m tonnes - outstripping the world's current leader, Acelor.

Last year LNM, Ispat and ISG produced 48.8m tonnes of steel, according to the International Iron and Steel Institute.

"We are changing the entire world steel map," said ISG chairman Wilbur Ross. The formation of Mittal Steel would create the same sort of change in the global steel industry that the creation of ISG, which includes assets of companies such as Bethlehem Steel and Weirton Steel, had done in the US, Mr Ross said.

Mr Mittal was equally upbeat. "We are creating a new global powerhouse in the steel sector," he said. Mittal Steel will employ some 165,000 people in 14 countries in North America, Asia, Europe and Africa.

Mr. Mittal also is the owner of the ISPAT SIDEX Steel company in Galati, Romania and of TEPRO company in Iasi, Romania.

Posted by Mihai : 10/26/2004 01:03:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Monday, October 25, 2004
Business in Romania blog
According to ARIS, the total foreign investments in romania for the first 8 months was 1,43 billion EURO. Until the end of the year the total figure is expected to exceed 2 billion EURO (25% higher than previous year).

Directforeign investments for the first 8 months total 1,39 billion EURO, 43% higher than in previous year.

The main areas of interest are the auto industry, the furniture industry, electronics & IT and the real estate market. Most of the investments presented above are greenfield investments and have benefited from tipical advantages offered to investors in Romania.

Posted by Mihai : 10/25/2004 05:40:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
Romania has one of the largest growth rates for the Internet users compared to other countries in Eastern and Central Europe.

The number of Internet users rose from 350.000 / week in 1998 to 1.450.000 / week in 2002.

Romanian Internet users specialy use services like e-mail (49%), chat (46%) and information search (37%). Internet is accessed from public places by 50% of Romanian internet users, while 25% use it from their office and 20% use it from home. Most Internet users are youngsters between 18 and 29 years old and adults between 30 and 39 years old.

Most powerful web networks are developed by:

Mirabilis Media (,,,,,,,,,,;

Imedia (,,,,,,,

Netbridge Investments (,,,, (,,,,,,,,;

Vodanet (,,,,,

Media Pro (,,,

To read more about this study (Romanian language only) please visit this page.

The study was released by Roland Berger Strategy Consultants.

Posted by Mihai : 10/25/2004 01:04:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
According to the latest data released by the central bank (BNR), Romania’s current account deficit rose 46.4 percent to EUR 2.1 billion over January - August against the same period last year, accounting for a worrying 6.6 percent of the GDP considering the 5.5 percent ceiling established with the IMF. Increasing concern is related to a recent S&P statement according to which a further deterioration of the Romania’s current account gap might result in a downgrade. The deterioration is mainly grounded on the increasing trade balance stemming from strong domestic consumption, which is to further increase to the end of the year considering the usual booming imports of household goods.

Posted by Mihai : 10/25/2004 11:50:00 am
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
The Romanian government said it has given the country's former King Michael 30 million euros (38 million dollars) to compensate him for the seizure of his property by the former communist regime in 1948.

The government also returned to the ex-sovereign the small castle of Peles near Sinaia, 150 kilometers (90 miles) north of Bucharest.

But the former king's lawyer, Adrian Vasiliu, dismissed the amount. "The amount offered by the government and which includes the impressive and luxurious Peles castle, now a national museum, is symbolic," he said. "This compensation amounts to far less than the actual value of the property confiscated by the communists."

In 1999, the former king took legal action in a bid to recover his family's property.

A court later ruled that the 17th-century Savarsin castle, used as a residence by late dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, be restored to the ex-king.

On August 23, 1944 King Michael, aged 23, ordered the arrest of Romanian strongman and Adolf Hitler ally Marshal Ion Antonescu so his country could switch to the Allied camp.
He was subsequently forced to appoint a Communist-dominated government and in 1947 to abdicate and leave the country.
He returned to the country in 2002 and now lives in central Bucharest as a private citizen.

Posted by Iulia Rasoiu : 10/25/2004 10:25:00 am
Business in Romania blog
Sunday, October 24, 2004
Business in Romania blog
BUCHAREST, Oct 22 (Reuters) –
Romania's centrist opposition alliance is closing the gap with the ruling leftist Social Democrat Party and its ally, the small centre-left Humanist Party ahead of elections, an opinion poll showed on Friday.
An IRECSON survey of 4,000 people between Oct. 10-18 showed the ruling ex-communist PSD still topping voter preferences with 38.98 percent, followed closely by the centrist opposition alliance, 3.5 percentage points behind compared to five in a previous poll conducted by Gallup.
The survey was conducted nationwide and has a margin of error of 1.5 percent.
Romania, which aims to join the European Union in 2007, holds both presidential and parliamentary elections in November.
Following are the results of the four latest opinion polls:



Oct 18 Oct 15 Oct 10 Oct 5 lower senate

PSD 38.98* 43* 43.62* 39* 37.61 37.09

PNL 35.41** 38** 35.99** 29** 6.89 7.48

PD - - - - 7.03 7.58

PRM 8.75 13 12.76 11 19.48 21.01

UDMR 4.27 4 4.47 5 6.80 6.90

PUR - - - - - -

Won't vote/

undecided 7.55 32 - 12 - -




Nastase 37.39 - 43.53 49 -


Basescu 33.07 - 33.86 20 -


Vadim Tudor 9.67 - 13.16 23 33.17


* indicates joint result for the PSD-PUR alliance

** indicates joint result for the PNL-PD alliance


It seems that the diffrence between the PSD+PUR UNION and the Justice and TRUTH ALLIANCE is getting smaller...

It seems that the difference between the PSD+PUR UNION and the Justice and TRUTH ALLIANCE is getting smaller...
And I am not wondering if Basescu may win the second ballot against Nastase…I am wondering if he can really do it from the first one as he announced… ;-)

The race has therefore narrowed - prompting a more vituperative debate all round. Both camps have proposed live TV debates as well, with ever increasing lists of questions they would like to see the other side answer.

I can't wait for the debates...

And for the Romanians abroad in the diaspora:

Posted by Cristian C. Francu : 10/24/2004 10:48:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
Romania is the world biggest exporter of beluga caviar.
The Associated Press

CONSTANTA, Romania (AP) - Romania will be the world's biggest exporter of beluga caviar after having taken steps to protect its sturgeon population, officials said Thursday.

Exports of beluga caviar are regulated through an international system of permits run by the Switzerland-based Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

This year, Romania will be the world's largest exporter of beluga caviar, with 3,410 (7,500 pounds) kilograms of caviar. The Balkan country is followed by Kazakhstan with 2,360 kilograms (5,190 pounds), according to figures released Thursday by the group, which has issued export quotas for September and October.

Export quotas for Romania were increased in 2004 after the country took measures to protect the white sturgeon population, including tough penalties for poaching. Last year, about 1,000 people were prosecuted for poaching fish, said Virgil Munteanu, governor of Romania's Danube Delta reservation.

Countries in the Caspian Sea region have agreed to reduce their exports by 50 percent this year to compensate for illegal harvests of sturgeon, John Sellar, an enforcement officer with the Convention, said by telephone from Switzerland.

He said the exporters also agreed at a recent conference in Bangkok, Thailand, to regulate exports more strictly. The 2004 quotas will have to be exported by the end of March 2005.

Illegal exports of beluga caviar, which is the black variety, are estimated to be worth tens of millions of dollars, with a kilogram of caviar costing about US$500 (euro400) per kilogram (2.2 pounds) wholesale, Sellar said.

On the Net:
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora,
Romanian sturgeons,

Posted by Cristian C. Francu : 10/24/2004 10:38:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Friday, October 22, 2004
Business in Romania blog

2004-10-22 10:56:23

The sale of 51% in Petrom, Distrigaz Nord, Distrigaz Sud and two branches of Electrica will bring 2.25 billion euros to the Romanian economy by the end of the year, with the State directly receiving 958 million euros. It has taken Romania fourteen years to reach the peak of privatization, although Hungary and the Czech Republic, for example, had already managed this by 1995-1996. German company Ruhrgas, part of the world's largest utilities company E.ON, yesterday signed the 304 million-euro privatisation contract for a 51% stake in the natural gas distributor, Distrigaz Nord. The deal with Ruhrgas is the Romanian State's first real privatization in that it involves the sale to a private company of the majority share in a state-owned company. The Germans will pay 125 million euros for the direct acquisition of 30% in Distrigaz Nord and will also make a cash contribution of 179 million euros, which will increase their stake to 51%. The foreign investor will also take on net financial debts of 13 million euros According to officials from the Ministry of Economy and Trade, the transaction (the purchasing of the 30% stake and the capital increase) will be completed by the end of the year. Until that time, Ruhrgas representatives will be actively involved in all major strategic decisions of the company. The privatization contract for Distrigaz Nord SA Targu Mures was signed yesterday at Victoria Palace (the Government headquarters) by Dorin Mucea, head of the Office for State Participations and Industry Privatisation, with Burckhard Bergmann, chairman of the E.ON Ruhrgas Board, and Achim Saul, head of Ruhrgas Sales Division for Central and Eastern Europe. The Ruhrgas offer values the entire Distrigaz Nord stock at 416 million euros. The offer by the Germans is very similar to the proposition made by Gaz de France, which took over Distrigaz Sud for 311 million euros, paying 128 million euros for 30% of the shares. The price appears much higher since the value of the regulatory asset base released by the Natural Gas Regulation Authority is bigger in the case of Distrigaz Sud than in the case of the other gas distributor. However, Ruhrgas will take over a company that seems to be cleaner, whose net debts are seven times smaller than those of Distrigaz Sud, and which has more clients and a bigger network (17,000km). "As a future member of the E.ON group, Distrigaz Nord will benefit from our powerful position and from our expertise in this field. We are coming to Romania as a long-term investor and not only as a majority shareholder, but as a partner as well," said Burckhard Bergmann, an E.ON board member. In the final stage of the tender, Italian energy group Enel, which was said to have good chances to win either Distrigaz Nord or Distrigaz Sud (having bid for both), came in second in both cases.

Posted by Mircea : 10/22/2004 09:14:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
German company Ruhrgas, part of the world's largest utilities company E.ON, yesterday signed the 304 million-euro privatisation contract for a 51% stake in the natural gas distributor, Distrigaz Nord.

The deal with Ruhrgas is the Romanian State's first real privatisation in that it involves the sale to a private company of the majority share in a state-owned company.

The overall financial volume of the engagement amounts to EUR 303 million. Through the privatisation, E.ON Ruhrgas is acquiring, in a first step, a 30 % share in Distrigaz Nord for the amount of EUR 125 million. This share will be increased to 51 % through a definite capital increase by EUR 178 million. The remaining 49 % of the share capital will remain in public ownership. The transaction is subject to the approval of the Romanian cartel authorities.

According to officials from the Ministry of Economy and Trade, the transaction (the purchasing of the 30% stake and the capital increase) will be completed by the end of the year.

The Ruhrgas offer values the entire Distrigaz Nord stock at 416 million euros. The offer by the Germans is very similar to the proposition made by Gaz de France, which took over Distrigaz Sud for 311 million euros, paying 128 million euros for 30% of the shares.

The price appears much higher since the value of the regulatory asset base released by the Natural Gas Regulation Authority is bigger in the case of Distrigaz Sud than in the case of the other gas distributor.

The regional gas company Distrigaz Nord, so far 100 % publicly owned, is responsible for natural gas trade and distribution in the northern part of Romania.

It supplies approx. 4.6 billion m3 of natural gas annually to approx. one million customers and operates an approx. 17,000 km gas pipeline grid.

The Romanian gas market is the strongest sales market in central and eastern Europe. With a share of 37 %, natural gas is the most important primary fuel in the country.

Approx. 16 billion m3 of natural gas were consumed in 2003. Demand is expected to increase continuously over the next few years. Romania currently covers approx. 70 % of its natural gas demand by gas from indigenous sources, which are, however, declining. Approx. 30 % of the natural gas is imported from Russia.

Besides Distrigaz Nord, E.ON Ruhrgas has already acquired shares in the Romanian power and heat generator CCNE and in the Romanian gas supplier S.C. Congaz S.A.

Posted by Iulia Rasoiu : 10/22/2004 11:56:00 am
Business in Romania blog
Thursday, October 21, 2004
Business in Romania blog
BUCHAREST, Oct 20 (Reuters) - Romania's main opposition centrist alliance has chosen businessman Calin Tariceanu as its choice for prime minister if it wins a general election on Nov. 28, a senior official in the alliance said on Wednesday.

Analysts and investors were keenly waiting to find out who the Truth and Justice Alliance would choose to face popular Foreign Minister Mircea Geoana, who is the choice of the ruling leftist Social Democrats.

Romania, which aims to join the European Union in 2007, holds general and presidential elections one month before it hopes to wrap up European Union membership talks.

"The official announcement ... will be made later in the day. Calin Tariceanu is the one to be nominated," the source in the opposition Liberal party told Reuters.

The Liberal Party is one of two parties in the alliance. The other is the Democrat Party. The alliance is running behind the Social Democrats in opinion polls.

Tariceanu, 52, for many years ran the local unit of French car maker Citroen. He was recently appointed to lead the Liberals after former presidential candidate Theodor Stolojan withdrew for health reasons.

Tariceanu, who is also a member of parliament, handed over his responsibilities at Citroen last year when a law to halt conflicts of interest came into force.

Posted by Mihai : 10/21/2004 12:59:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
Transparency International has released this year's edition of its Corruption Perceptions Index ( ) and Global Coruption Report ( )

While Finland, New Zealand and Denmark appear to be the least corrupt countries in the world, Romania ranks 89th, below Iran, The Dominican Republic, Senegal, Mongolia, Namibia, Cuba, Ghana, Sri Lanka, Syria, Mali, Morocco and so on and so forth.

Haiti appears to be the most corrupt country in the world.

Posted by Iulia Rasoiu : 10/21/2004 11:07:00 am
Business in Romania blog
Wednesday, October 20, 2004
Business in Romania blog
source: Ziarul Financiar.

The total capitalisation of the Bucharest Stock Exchange has increased some 500 million euros since the beginning of the year as a result of the surge in value of some of the biggest companies listed on the market. The total value of the companies trading on the Stock Exchange reached 5.5 billion euros, following the new all-time highs recorded in the BET and BET-C indexes, which mirror the evolution of listed stocks.

Brokers say this is due to new money coming from foreign investors that significantly raised demand for shares in recent weeks. After six consecutive days of general growth, most brokers admit they had not expected this phenomenon and that the market will not be able to keep up with the pace for long.

The BET index, which follows the progress of the market's top ten companies, climbed 10% since early this month, putting Stock Exchange growth this year at almost 65%. This is also the average size of profits made by foreigners that invested dollars or euros, since the exchange rate kept at a very stable level.

"It was only natural for the market to grow because the dividend period is coming and we've had our share of market decreases. We were expecting Banca Transilvania to go up, though we didn't dream of seeing it surge 12% in one week," said Răzvan Paşol, president of Intercapital Invest.

The Stock exchange thus resumed its bullish trend in the past three weeks, after an interval in August and September that brokers put down to lower interest by foreign investors.

The first signs of comeback were evident earlier this month, when the European Commission released its annual country report in which it granted Romania functioning market economy status.

"Each year, it has been foreigners that have pushed the market up. This is visible in the statistics on foreign investment, which show the market stopped growing when money from abroad stopped coming in. It is a good sign, however, that in August and September when no more money came from abroad, Romanian investors were able to support the market and there were no slumps in quotations," said Rareş Nilaş, head of BT Securities, the brokerage firm owned by Banca Transilvania.

Brokers also identify the banking rate cuts for ROL, which made investment in stocks more interesting, as another factor in the market's recent growth. "I believe that current trading prices also include investor estimates of future rate drops," says Daniel Pocorea, a trader with BRD Securities. In recent years, rate cuts have always coincided with market surges, albeit with some delay.

The growth of the Bucharest Stock Exchange matches the latest macroeconomic data and is very encouraging to investors. "Whichever way we look at it, the macroeconomic situation is favourable, whether we are talking about the country report, rate cuts or economic growth. I believe there is still room for growth, but the pace of growth in the past few days is indeed reason for concern, and which, should it continue, may even pose a threat to market growth," Pocorea concluded.

Posted by Mihai : 10/20/2004 05:59:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Tuesday, October 19, 2004
Business in Romania blog
The Distrigaz, Petrom and Electrica privatisation are three very important steps in the Romanian privatisation process, meant to eliminate the state-owned monopols in some vertical industries in Romania.

Below is a detailed presentation of the Ditrigaz privatisation, courtesy of REUTERS.


BUCHAREST, Oct 18 (Reuters) - France's Gaz de France (GDF) will pay a total of 311 million euros to get a majority stake in Romania's gas distributor Distrigaz Sud, the Romanian Economy Ministry said on Monday.

Privatisation of Romania's two main gas firms Distrigaz Sud and Distrigaz
Nord is a key move under accords with international lenders and a major step in
reforming the debt-ridden energy sector.

"Gaz de France will pay 128 million euros for a 30 percent stake (in
Distrigaz) and another 183 million euros to boost its participation to 51 percent,"
the ministry said in a statement.

Under the deal, to be signed during the visit of French Prime Minister
Jean-Pierre Raffarin to Bucharest, Gaz de France is committed to use the funds it
injects in Distrigaz for investments, upgrading and environment protection.

"That means Gaz de France has evaluated Distrigaz Sud at 426 million euros,
taking into account that on April 30, 2004, it (Distrigaz Sud) had a net
financial debt of 95 million euros," the statement said.

The transaction will be finalised by the end of the year, it added.

Romania in August chose GDF and Germany's Ruhrgas as winners in the sale of
its two main distributors.

Distrigaz Sud had a 462 million euros sales in 2003, when its net profit,
computed in line with International Accounting Standards totalled 21 million

Posted by Mihai : 10/19/2004 05:55:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
France and Romania agreed on Monday to set up an international committee to help French couples caught out in the middle of adoption proceedings by a Romanian ban on foreign adoptions.

EU candidate Romania approved a law in June under which children can only be adopted abroad by their grandparents, cementing a moratorium on foreign adoptions imposed in 2000 after fears the babies were at risk of abuse.

The law meant that dozens of French couples, who had started adoption procedures before the moratorium, were caught out.

"I proposed to set up an international committee, under the incontestable authority of a credible organisation, which could examine different cases," French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin said during a visit to Romania.

The EU, which Romania hopes to join in 2007, warned the Balkan country against easing the ban on adoptions when Romanian officials said in July they were considering allowing parliament to approve the adoption abroad of very ill babies.

Around 130 French couples are estimated to have been caught in the middle of adoption proceedings by the ban, with 35 of these having already met their prospective Romanian child.

Posted by Iulia Rasoiu : 10/19/2004 04:36:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
Romanian Economy Ministry officials said that the government is determined to keep the deadline, which expired Monday, at 12:00 GMT.

The companies qualified in the final stage in the privatization of regional power suppliers Electrica Oltenia SA and Electrica Moldova SA are:

  1. Spain's Union Fenosa SA (UNF.MC),
  2. Germany's E.On AG and
  3. CEZ AS (BAACEZ.PR) of the Czech Republic

So far, only CEZ has indicated it is willing to make a final bid.

CEZ wants to bid for both companies and is ready to invest up to EUR1 billion in Romania into various energy projects, Vladimir Schmalz, the head of CEZ mergers and acquisition department, was quoted as saying by daily paper Ziarul Financiar earlier this month.

The two companies supply electricity to the southwestern and northeastern parts of the country respectively.

Posted by Iulia Rasoiu : 10/19/2004 04:10:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
On Monday when the French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin visit Romania, the French construction group Vinci SA Monday it has signed a contract, to finance, design, build and operate a new highway in Romania, without any tender.

The 36 km highway between Comarnic and Predeal, located in a mountainous area popular with tourists, is expected to cost EUR 480 million to build.
The contract to build and manage the road will run for 30 years, divided into five years of initial studies and construction, and 25 years of operation.

Other financial details are expected to be released later, Vinci said.

Posted by Iulia Rasoiu : 10/19/2004 03:47:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Monday, October 18, 2004
Business in Romania blog
source: REUTERS

BUCHAREST, Oct 18 (Reuters) - U.S. company AES has said it needs more
time to draft a competitive final offer in the sale of Romanian power firms
Electrica Oltenia SA and Electrica Moldova SA, newspaper Adevarul reported on

The privatisation of electricity distributors is a key element in the
restructuring of the Balkan state's ailing power industry, as demanded by
international lenders and by the European Union, which Romania hopes to join in 2007.

"AES had no intention to withdraw from the race. But we need time to submit a
competitive offer," AES Vice President Joseph Brandt was quoted as saying. He
said AES aims to lodge the bid by Nov. 1.

In early October the Economy Ministry extended the bidding deadline for
Electrica by two weeks to Oct. 18 following requests by some of the prospective
bidders, and said that Greece's Public Power Corporation and AES had
withdrawn from the race.

The five qualified prospective bidders are Greece's Public Power Corporation,
Czech firm CEZ , Germany's E.ON , Spain's Union Fenosa
International and AES.

Romania launched the sale of Electrica Moldova and Electrica Oltenia in
April. Electrica Moldova has 1.31 million customers and Electrica Oltenia 1.36

The ministry is offering 24.62 percent in each distributor to a strategic
investor, which must raise its stake to 51 percent through a share capital

Posted by Mihai : 10/18/2004 10:49:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
About one week ago I meant to write a post as I was very confused by how the prices for various products in Romania can go up so fast due to petroleum price increase. Basicallz, the petroleum price increased by 10%, while the price for meat and other day-to-day products increased bz more than 15%. As I imagine the transport has a little impact in the general price for meat, for example, it is hard for me to understand this argument.

But I hope the article bellow, courtesy of Ziarul Financiar, will put more light into this problem.

To be continued in a following issue....


The skyrocketing petroleum price is raising questions as to whether the inflation curbing pace planned will be possible to attain in 2005, right at a time when Romania is about to push the December to December rate below 10%, after 14 years of failures in this regard.

The Government has recently adjusted the inflationary forecast for next year upwards from 6% to 7%. The economic memorandum agreed upon with the IMF at the end of September, included a 6% inflationary target for late December 2005, with quarterly decline targets estimated at 8.1%, 8%, 6.5% and 6%. What is the official explanation for the change of forecast?

"We have a prudent 2005 inflationary target because there are potential growth risks, one of which is the international petroleum price if it maintains high," stated Finance Minister Mihai Tanasescu yesterday.

Under the circumstances, the State will also find itself deprived of its "reference fuel price" lever next year, which it used to pull in the past but ceased to work now that the main company on the market, Petrom was privatised.

Even if no significant price changes are made around the time of elections, there is no way they will be possible to avoid early in 2005, given that the new shareholder, OMV, cannot afford to operate at a loss.

Contrary to the initial expectations, the rise in the petroleum price turns out to be a lasting phenomenon, whose shocks will not be possible to dampen in spite of Petrom's domestic production of petroleum. Furthermore, a fast-growing economy like that of Romania will keep increasing consumption.

None of the major producers sees any significant price cuts being operated, as the crisis is made worse by the concurrent political instability in Iraq, Nigeria and Venezuela.

How can this effect be alleviated, which has already been delayed for as long as possible by not operating significant increases of Petrom's' prices?

At first, a temporary excise cut may seem to be the solution, but such an issue cannot be raised before Brussels, which expects to see excises rally to the levels in the EU on schedule.

If a new period of increased inflationary pressures looms ahead, how will NBR be able to continue reducing the benchmark interest?

At the same time, how can the expectations of the market about the inflationary trend be kept in check, considering it already sees prices increasing in a chain reaction as imminent?

The difficulty of proceeding with the disinflation once the 10% threshold was about to be reached was anticipated. The unexpected skyrocketing of the petroleum price, however, might turn out hard to overcome, particularly because it overlaps an inflation with a major structural component that is hard to tame as it is.

Inflationary rises were registered in countries like Hungary and Poland in those times when they were moving from the two-digit to one-digit inflationary rates. The Hungarian inflation therefore increased to 11.2% after having dropped to 10.3%. Poland's similarly resumed growth to 9.8% from 8.6%.

Posted by Mihai : 10/18/2004 10:41:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
It seems that the Social Democrat Party (PSD) and its ally, the small centre-left (social-liberal?!;-))Humanist Party (PUR), remain in the lead ahead of November
general elections, an opinion poll showed on Sunday.

The ISS polling agency's survey of 1,081 people between Oct. 7-10 showed the PSD-PUR group ahead of the centrist opposition alliance by 7.6 percentage points compared to 10 points in a previous poll.

So should we dicover a trend here? ;-)

The survey was conducted nationwide and has a margin of error of five percent.

If we take 5 from 7,6, there remains only 3% ;-) and both presidential and parliamentary elections will be on Nov. 28.

I don't know for sure about all my colegues on this blog but I am a ...'positive' person. And since, in Romanian, Yes = DA, you can reach your own conclusions...D.A.? And you can translate this in english either with Yes or with J.T.

Following are the results of the four latest opinion polls:



Oct 10 Oct 5 Sept 28 Sept 25 lower senate

PSD 43.62* 39* 44* 36* 37.61 37.09

PNL 35.99* 29* 35** 31** 6.89 7.48

PD - - - - 7.03 7.58

PRM 12.76 11 11 9 19.48 21.01

UDMR 4.47 5 5 5 6.80 6.90

PUR - - - - - -

Won't vote/

undecided - 12 37 16 - -




Nastase 43.53 49 - 41 -


Basescu 33.86 20 - - -


Stolojan*** - - - 28 -


Vadim Tudor 13.16 23 - 9 33.17


* indicates joint result for the PSD-PUR alliance.

** indicates joint result for the PNL-PD alliance. (D.A. the Justice and Truth Alliance)

*** Stolojan withdrew from the presidential race citing health

problems. The PNL-PD alliance chose Traian Basescu, the vocal

Bucharest mayor, to run for president.


I am watching Train's Campaign and his trend in polls...

Posted by Cristian C. Francu : 10/18/2004 04:26:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Sunday, October 17, 2004
Business in Romania blog
It is a very good news to see that private companies in Romania have started to be more cmopetitive and more powerful that state-owned companies. With new pirvatisations going on as we speak, this trend is very likely to continue and even grow in the future.

Below you will find the full article about this, published originally and copyrighted by Ziarul Financiar.


More than twelve billion euros. That was the combined turnover last year of Romania's top twenty companies, which includes both state-owned and private businesses. 2003 was the first year the combined results of the 20 biggest companies showed overall profits.

The main change to the Top 20 has come in the form of the growing number of private companies. In 2002, eleven of the top twenty companies were state-owned, only nine were private. Things changed last year, however, and there are now only seven state-owned companies on the list.

This can be partly explained by last year's "complete" privatisation of RomTelecom, in which Greek telecommunications group OTE increased its stake in the Romanian operator to 54%. Moreover, some of the larger state-owned companies, such as Termoelectrica (which had a turnover of 646 million euros in 2002), were split up.

On the other hand, many private companies had an outstanding year in 2003. Sidex, Metro Cash & Carry, Mobifon, Orange Romania, Interbrands, Dacia and the tobacco companies Philip Morris and BAT Trading - all saw turnover grow by between 10 and 30 percent in real terms.

Some companies, such as Lukoil Downstream, almost doubled their turnovers in 2003. The ranking has also become accustomed with the presence of mobile telephony operators Orange and Connex, which have the highest profit per employee ratios (over 86,000 euros in net profit per employee for Orange and more than 66,000 euros per employee for Mobifon).

According to data from the Finance Ministry's website, SNP (National Oil Company) Petrom remained Romania's largest company last year, despite a 20% decline in turnover.

Excepting the two Distrigaz companies (Sud and Nord) and the National Lignite Company Oltenia, all the state-owned companies in the Top 20 saw their turnover fall last year. This trend, however, brought about improved profit performance: not counting Electrica and Hidroelectrica, who together made losses of 100 million euros, all the state-owned companies broke even. Paradoxically, last year's biggest losses were incurred by two private companies - Rompetrol Rafinare (290 million euros in losses) and Dacia (97 million euros).

This new trend whereby an increasing number of private companies are making their way into the Top 20 is set to continue this year. The change in the shareholding structure at Petrom (which is being bought by Austrian group OMV) and the current retail boom (the opening of new stores in many cities) will attract more new companies to the Romanian market next year. The retail market is poised for further growth in 2005.

Furthermore, two Electrica subsidiaries and the two Distrigaz will also become private property next year. Under the consequences, only three-four state-owned businesses are expected to remain on the Top 20 list next year, unless significant changes occur.

Posted by Mihai : 10/17/2004 03:58:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Friday, October 15, 2004
Business in Romania blog
The Government yesterday endorsed the draft of the consolidated budget for 2005.

The draft sets targets for deficit of 1.5% of GDP against economic growth of 5.3%, inflation of 7% and a current account deficit of 5.4% of GDP, announced Public Finance Minister Mihai Tanasescu.

So, the inflation target was revised upwards from 6% to 7%, calculated for December 2004-December 2005, the estimated current account deficit is 0.2% higher in terms of GDP than agreed upon with the International Monetary Fund and the predicts economic growth will be 0.1% higher than initially calculated.

In this case Romania would have the highest growth in Europe this year at 7.6%.
In the same time inflation was up again increased by 0.9% in September, reaching 6.6% for the first nine months of the year.

If the target for the year of 9% is to be achieved, price increases over the next three months cannot exceed 2.2%, or monthly increases of 0.7%-0.8%.

Posted by Iulia Rasoiu : 10/15/2004 04:54:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Thursday, October 14, 2004
Business in Romania blog
Tarom will extend the number of internal and external destinations starting from the winter of 2004.

The new internal routes will be Arad with 5 and Sibiu with 3 flights per week. Also, the number of flights to Iasi will be increased to six and Bacau and Suceava will have four flights / week.

New external routes: New York, Washington, Geneva and Zurich. Also, the number of flights to Munich will increase to six.

Posted by Mihai : 10/14/2004 02:10:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
The pipe construction will begine in 2006 and it will be completed by 2010. The pipe will link Austria to Egypt and it will cross Romania. In the meantime disscutions are underway regarding a joint venture between Egypt and Romania, which will produce oil/gas extraction and transport equipment. Egypt will play a major role on the gas market in Romania says Dan Ioan Popescu (ministry of economy and commerce).

This can bring an escape from the russian / ucrainean potential monopoly on this market in Eastern Europe and for EU countries as well.

Posted by Mircea : 10/14/2004 02:08:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
We salute the joining of Mircea Boistean, a very important contributor to the Business Romania Blog.

Mircea is a person with great experience in the political sector, an active member of VIP organization (Volunteers for Ideas and Projects) and of Casa NATO.

His academic studies are in the Economic and Management field and his experience will be very important to the growth of the Business Romania Blog.

Welcome, Mircea !!

Posted by Mihai : 10/14/2004 01:29:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
The World Economic Forum published yesterday, in New York, the Global Competitiveness Index rankings.

Romania is up 12 positions from 2003, ranking on 63rd place for 2004. The total score for Romania's competitiveness was 3.86.

The main drives for this upgrade were the score for competitiveness in the microeconomic sector and the competitiveness for the macroeconomic sector. Also, an improvement can be found in the score for internal competition. Still, Romania was poor on the diffeence between active and passive interest rates and also for the internal fiscal policy.

On the first place of the Global Competitiveness Index you can find Finland with a score of 5.95, followed by United States with 5.82.

You can download the Competitiveness Rapport here (PDF) and the Composition of Growth Competitiveness Index here (PDF).

Posted by Mihai : 10/14/2004 11:37:00 am
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
Business Romania salutes the first issue of Global Business Review, a UK-based magazine that invites you to join a knowledge conversation.

The purpose of the Global Knowledge Review is to keep you updated on the changes taking place at the leading edge of the 'knowledge world'.

Global Knowledge Review is a joint venture between David Gurteen and Bizmedia Publishing. Knowledge consultant David Gurteen will be one of the thinkers initiating the conversation in Global Knowledge Review. Bizmedia is an independent publisher who has been producing conferences, events, magazines and reports in the knowledge and learning space for over five years.

The first issue of the magazine is available for download for free, the next issues will be charged USD 240 / 10 issues.

Posted by Mihai : 10/14/2004 10:24:00 am
Business in Romania blog
Wednesday, October 13, 2004
Business in Romania blog
They Rule - a web site that allows you to create maps of the interlocking directories of the top companies in the US in 2004.The data was collected from their websites and SEC filings in early 2004, so it may not be completely accurate as long companies merge and disappear and directors shift boards.

They Rule aims to provide a glimpse of some of the relationships of the 'US ruling class'. It takes as its focus the boards of some of the most powerful U.S. companies, which share many of the same directors. Some individuals sit on 5, 6 or 7 of the top 500 companies. It allows users to browse through these interlocking directories and run searches on the boards and companies. A user can save a map of connections complete with their annotations and email links to these maps to others. They Rule is a starting point for research about these powerful individuals and corporations.

You must try the saved popular maps. ;-)


Either you are a fan of the conspiracy theory or just an interested entrepreneur or professional...'they rule' is a powerful tool.

You can also read the new They Rule weblog which has links to related sites.

Posted by Cristian C. Francu : 10/13/2004 04:58:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
I was talking earlier about various loans for Romanian companies like ALRO, Banc Post and RCS.

Also, FinansBank Romania will benefit from a $15 milion credit from 9 financial institutions. This sindicated credit facility was launched by a group consisting of Alpha Bank London, The Bank of New York and Warchovia Bank National Association.

This is probably the first sindicated credit for export portfolio granted to a Romanian bank and the discussions lasted no longoer than three months.

Posted by Mihai : 10/13/2004 04:57:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
Everyone is in a rush these days to meet this and that criteria in order to join the EU. Granted, having what we need to join EU would be a good thing, but what about simply making it look like that and joining unprepared? It ought to be pretty obvious for anyone here that Romania will not *actually* meet any of the important criteria anytime soon: corruption will not disappear, justice will not simply start working fine, the power will not simply stop the fiscal financing that keeps much of the media alive and working for them and surely no functional market economy will pop out of nowhere and settle here.
So let's think for a moment if all this is worth it. Disguising reality can be dangerous in this case and joining EU in our current condition could generate, besides a lot of controversy and scandals, a small economic disaster here, as local the local industry (e.g. manufacturing) is very inefficient and may simply be swept away in the absence of customs tariffs.
But there could be a bright side to this: the actual ex-communist government would surely hate it. Oh, but really? (I almost heard you ask.) Yes, really, because it would mean the end of much of their lucrative governing business. And today, as I'm getting more and more tired of the above mentioned ex-communists, I feel a bit radical. I say let's do it. I can ignore all those laid off people with four children to feed. I can ignore the poor starving bastards caught in a game without chances. Why should I be so merciful when it was probably them who cast the votes which brought us where we are right now? Let's do it.

Posted by TM : 10/13/2004 10:01:00 am
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
Romania is for the first time holding a Holocaust commemoration day for the hundreds of thousands of Romanian Jews who were murdered during World War II.

The Romanian government denied that a Holocaust took place on its territory until last year, when its stand led to a diplomatic row with Israel.

The commemorations included a special session of parliament and a ceremony at Bucharest's main synagogue.

Many of Romania's Jews and members of other minorities, including gypsies, died in death camps located in the Transdniester region, now part of neighbouring Moldova. Others were killed in pogroms - in Bucharest and other towns - or in death trains.

The Encyclopaedia of the Holocaust says that about 420,000 of Romania's 750,000-strong Jewish community died - including 100,000 deported to Auschwitz from areas of the country then under Hungarian rule.

The deportations were ordered by Romania's wartime leader, Marshal Ion Antonescu, on 9 October 1941.

Holocaust Day would have been marked this year on 9 October, but it was moved to the 12th, to avoid clashing with a Jewish holiday.

During Romania's communist era, the public was told that Germans were the sole perpetrators of the Holocaust.

Antonescu was regarded as a war criminal who merely followed Hitler's orders.

However, he was held up as a hero by some Romanian nationalists after the country gained independence, because he fought a Soviet invasion in 1940.

Last year's row with Israel came after the government suggested there was no Holocaust within Romania's borders.

It later backed down, saying that administrations between 1940 and 1945 were "guilty of serious war crimes".

A committee, headed by Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, was set up to study the Romanian Holocaust and publish its conclusions. Its report is expected soon.

About 6,000 Jews now live in the country.

Posted by Iulia Rasoiu : 10/13/2004 09:27:00 am
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
GMail Drive is a Shell Namespace Extension that creates a virtual filesystem around your Google GMail account, allowing you to use GMail as a storage medium.

GMail Drive creates a virtual filesystem on top of your Google GMail account and enables you to save and retrieve files stored on your GMail account directly from inside Windows Explorer. GMail Drive literally adds a new drive to your computer under the My Computer folder, where you can create new folders, copy and drag'n'drop files to.

Ever since Google started to offer users a GMail e-mail account, which includes storage space of a 1000 megabytes, you have had plenty of storage space but not a lot to fill it up with. With GMail Drive you can easily copy files to your GMail account and retrieve them again. When you create a new file using GMail Drive, it generates an e-mail and posts it to your account. The e-mail appears in your normal Inbox folder, and the file is attached as an e-mail attachment. GMail Drive periodically checks your mail account (using the GMail search function) to see if new files have arrived and to rebuild the directory structures. But basically GMail Drive acts as any other hard-drive installed on your computer. You can copy files to and from the GMail Drive folder simply by using drag'n'drop like you're used to with the normal Explorer folders.
Because the GMail files will clutter up your Inbox folder, you may wish to create a filter in GMail to automatically move the files (prefixed with the GMAILFS letters) to your archived mail folder.

Please note that GMail Drive is still an experimental tool. There's still a number of limitations of the file-system (such as total filename size must be less than 40 characters), and it doesn't make full use of the secure internet protocols available.

Posted by Cristian C. Francu : 10/13/2004 03:50:00 am
Business in Romania blog
Tuesday, October 12, 2004
Business in Romania blog
-A reduction in the use of emergency ordinances.

-The laws on the freedom of information and transparency in the legislative process should still be fully implemented.

-Efforts to improve the policy -making and legislative process should continue.

-Further efforts are needed to strengthen local and regional governance with a view to ensuring proper implementation of the acquis.

-The management of court cases and the quality of judgments needs to improve, and implementation on the ground is a matter of priority for organisational and legislative changes introduced in Romania's judicial system.

- The ability to curb continuing serious and widespread corruption will depend on the effective implementation of the anti-corruption law. In particular, additional efforts are required to ensure the independence, effectiveness and accountability of the National Anti-Corruption Prosecution, which should concentrate its resources on investigating high-level corruption.

-The economic situation of many mass media organisations remains precarious and further efforts are necessary to guarantee media independence.

-A more speedy and transparent approach is needed to further the restitution of buildings and religious property.

-Efforts to address the problems of ill-treatment in custody, trafficking in human beings and prison overcrowding should be sustained.

-De facto discrimination against the Roma minority remains widespread.

-Romania complies with the criterion of being a functioning market economy, and vigorous implementation of its structural reform programme should enable it to cope with competitive pressure and market forces within the Union.

-Improvements can be made in sustaining macroeconomic stability and in deepening structural reforms. Priority should be given to preserve the momentum in disinflation and safeguard the sustainability of the external position by maintaining a prudent policy mix and by further reducing the deficit of the broader public sector. To achieve this, significant improvements in enforcing financial discipline, continuous adjustments of energy prices towards cost recovery levels and improved financial performance of public enterprises are vital. Fiscal sustainability needs to be strengthened by advancing expenditure reform and further improving tax compliance.

-The privatisation process should be accomplished, post-privatisation disputes be settled and non-viable enterprises more actively dismantled. In key sectors, such as energy, mining and transport, perseverance in restructuring and a more manifest strive for privatisation should go hand in hand.

-Substantial progress in the functioning of the judiciary and the public administration, including an even and predictable application of law, is required to create an enabling business environment with a level playing field.

-Due attention should be given to the full and timely implementation of the strategies and action plans for the reinforcement of administrative capacity.

-In the internal market, transposition of public procurement legislation must be completed, and practices which put Romania's commitment to open and transparent procurement procedures into question should be discontinued. Alignment needs to be completed on free movement of persons as regards citizens' rights, and administrative and training capacities should be enhanced in general. In freedom to provide services, Romania should continue to pay attention to the removal of identified barriers against the right of establishment and the freedom to provide services and to the development of the insurance and financial securities markets. Outstanding restrictions to capital movements and payments should be removed and the enforcement record of the National Office for the Prevention and Control of Money Laundering needs to be improved.

-On the protection of intellectual and industrial property rights, enforcement has not kept pace with legislation.

-Legislative alignment on accounting and auditing should be completed.

-On competition, alignment of the state aid legislation is needed; the enforcement record of the competition authority needs to be improved in state aid matters, and restructuring aid may be given to steel companies only in line with the Europe Agreement.

-On agriculture, overall administrative and enforcement capacities should be enhanced, including reinforcing the SAPARD Agency and establishing the necessary control elements. Upgrading plans for non-compliant establishments in the veterinary sector should be introduced with no delay.

-On fisheries, sustained efforts are needed to recruit sufficient staff in the Fisheries Inspectorate and provide it with adequate inspection tools. The fishing database should be established.

-On transport, the technical state of the inland waterway fleet should be improved.

-On taxation, attention should be paid to completing alignment and strengthening administrative capacity.

-On social policy and employment, efforts should focus on completing legislative alignment in the area of labour law and on strengthening the Labour Inspectorate to ensure proper implementation in the area of health and safety at work. Due attention should be paid to the promotion of social dialogue and to the improvement of the health status of the population, which is well below the EU average. Administrative capacity with regards to European Social Fund management should be strengthened as a matter of priority.

-On energy, full implementation and increased administrative capacity are needed on the internal energy market structures; and the restructuring of energy markets needs to be completed.

-On industrial policy, the key challenge is implementation, as structural weaknesses limit the capacity for enforcement. Transparency of the privatisation process should be fully ensured.

-On regional policy and co-ordination of structural instruments, efforts need to be continued to bring the administrative capacity up to the level required in order for Romania to reap full benefits of the structural instruments.

-On environment, implementation is lagging behind legislation: further transposition should concentrate on completing the alignment in the areas of horizontal legislation, air quality, waste management, water quality, and nature protection. Implementation of the transposed acquis remains a key challenge and requires enhanced efforts. It is of utmost importance that the environmental administration at all levels obtains sufficient resources in order to cope with the increasing recruitment, training and equipment needs. Strategic planning, adequate investment and financing plans also have to remain in the focus of the public services in the field of environment.

-On consumer and health protection, the consumer movement should be strengthened.

-On justice and home affairs, implementation capacity should be significantly strengthened in almost all areas, as should inter-agency co-operation. Many agencies and institutions involved in law enforcement are still affected by staff shortages, which will also require enhanced training capacity. The independence of the judiciary must be ensured on the ground. As regards the fight against corruption, implementation capacity should also be significantly strengthened and the existing legislation should be rigorously enforced. Romania should implement its current plans to fully address the above issues of concern and in particular increase its administrative capacity in the relevant institutions, implement an effective reform of the judicial system, recruit and train the necessary staff and take measures that have a significant impact on corruption.

-On custom, legislative alignment should be completed, and internal co-ordination improved; and any customs duties and charges having equivalent effect with regard to export and import to and from the Community will have to be abolished.

-On financial control, the legislative framework should be completed in external audit and protection of the Community's financial interests. Administrative capacity should be strengthened to implement sound financial system.

-The capacity of the public administration to implement and enforce the newly adopted legislation should be enhanced. These concerns extend beyond the adoption of the acquis and also apply to the management of EU financial assistance. Further efforts will be needed to complete the work in company law, competition policy, environment and justice and home affairs, customs and financial control.

Posted by Iulia Rasoiu : 10/12/2004 05:33:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog

Internet services provider ARtelecom could merge by absorption with RomTelecom, the operation being a first step in consolidating RomTelecom’s strategy on data transfers and Internet access, sources with ARtelecom were quoted as saying. ARtelecom was founded in June 2001 and communication services and solutions based on IP technology have been available since June 2002. The main shareholder is RomTelecom with over 99 percent of the share capital. The company’s infrastructure was developed by Intracom Bucharest and it is based on Cisco, HP, Sun Systems and MIND CTI equipment.

Posted by Mihai : 10/12/2004 05:25:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
Following the international trend in petrol prices going up, Rompetrol, the second-largest Romanian Oil Company raises the price for Oil by 15 USD / 1 ton of oil. This way, the Euro3 diesel fuel price had advanced from USD459/ton to USD442/ton.

The company said that no retail price hikes would occur at Rompetrol gas stations yet. But other private operators who acquire fuels from Rompetrol would probably adjust higher their retail prices.

Petrom announced that they wouldn't raise the price for their petroleum, but if the international pressure will continue they will have to follow.

Posted by Mihai : 10/12/2004 03:02:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
Fast Company just opened the 2005 Fast 50 readers' challenge, where they are looking for remarkable people, leaders of their communities, people with great ideas and innovations and so on.

If you are one or if you know someone I suggest you visit the Fast 50 web-page.

Good luck !

Posted by Mihai : 10/12/2004 09:16:00 am
Business in Romania blog
Monday, October 11, 2004
Business in Romania blog
Police are examining hundreds of cases of foreigners claiming to be the fathers of babies born into poverty

At least three British couples are among scores of would-be parents who are under investigation for allegedly buying babies from Romania, according to Michael Leidig reporting from Bucharest for News Telegraph.

Foreign men from across Europe are believed to be exploiting a loophole in the law and falsely claiming paternity of Romanian children, and with it the right to take the babies out of the country, circumventing a ban on international adoptions.

The ban was passed in 2001 under pressure from the European Union and is now rigorously enforced.

Families who accept money or other goods for their child face up to seven years in jail.

But Romania's prime minister, Adrian Nastase, said that police were investigating dozens of cases involving "parents" from Germany, France, Spain, Italy and Greece, in addition to Britain.

Other men claiming paternity have come forward from Turkey, Hungary and even Iran.

The police believe that there could be hundreds of similar cases, in which large sums of money change hands to help childless couples to bypass the ban, find suitable children and smuggle them out of Romania.
Many of the paternity cases are suspicious because foreign citizens have come forward to declare paternity of babies a long time after they were born.

A spokesman for Romania's organised crime department said: "We are looking at three cases involving UK families, but we cannot reveal any names or details while investigations are continuing." We are looking at cases where the man claimed to be the father of a child where no father was named on the birth certificate. In each case, these children are now living abroad."

The spokesman said that paternity deals may also have been arranged "to order". The authorities suspected that intermediaries have paid pregnant women to hand over their babies having written the name of the foreign father on the birth certificate to avoid suspicion when the baby is officially registered.

"We have been investigating these cases since June this year, and maternity wards and city halls have been carefully checked," the spokesman said.

The Romanian authorities are also considering DNA tests to confirm paternity claims.

Contraception and abortion were banned in Romania by the dictator Nicolae Ceausescu.

When his regime fell in 1989, almost 100,000 abandoned children were left neglected in homes and institutions across the country.

Many couples in the West offered to adopt children after programmes about their plight were broadcast on television.

Up to a third of the 100,000 children eventually found new homes but many of the others ended up living on the streets.

An estimated 40,000 children are still living in state care.
There are many babies born into poverty in Romania and their parents cannot afford to keep them.

The government has now authorised a further strengthening of the ban passed in 2001, and in so doing has removed another obstacle to Romania's hopes of gaining European Union membership in 2007.

The new policy will make foreign adoptions of Romanian babies almost impossible from January 2005.

The only circumstances in which children can be adopted by a family living abroad is if one of the adoptive parents is the grandmother or grandfather of the child.

The rule has also prompted a rush of claims by foreign fathers seeking paternity issues to be settled before the January deadline.

Gabriela Coman, the head of Romania's National Authority for Adoption and Child Protection, said the scam was an attempt to skirt the existing ban before the new regulations came into effect.

Other children's welfare groups point out that foreign couples keen to take on unwanted Romanian children can offer them the only chance of a new life.
They believe that the children's plight will worsen after the regulations come into force.

Roberto Zambrenti, the president of the Italian group Amici dei Bambini, said: "We doubt that Romania will have the capacity to absorb all its children and give them a family."

The Romanian government has launched a study into why so many children are abandoned by their mothers.

Monica Nedef, the head of a state child protection department in Bucharest, said mothers arriving at hospitals in labour were now being monitored to find out what happened to their new-born babies.

A spokesman for the country's Organised Crime Department added that prospective adoptive fathers had frequently been regular visitors to Romania, carrying out charity work for example, before claiming to have had a relationship with the child's mother.

He said it was easy for would-be adoptive couples to make contact via casual enquiries at orphanages, or over the internet, with intermediaries prepared to help them circumvent the adoption laws.

Many staff saw nothing wrong with passing information to foreigners that might help a child to a new life.
The spokesman said that with bribery a common part of daily life, couples were prepared to offer up to £5,000 for help.

Posted by Iulia Rasoiu : 10/11/2004 11:11:00 am
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
The Romanian Commercial Bank will have a new chairman of The Supervisory Board as of October 29th, when The Shareholder Assembly will convene to appoint one, as the current chairman, Florin Georgescu, has been appointed first vice-governor of The National Bank.

Banking sources have said the new chairman will be Horia Neamtu, a member of the Chamber of Deputies on behalf of the ruling Social Democrat Party (PSD) and also a member of The Budget – Finance Committee of that chamber.

Posted by Iulia Rasoiu : 10/11/2004 11:05:00 am
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
The latest major loans for romanian business:

$105 Mln Loan For Alro

According to banking market sources, the consortium including the aluminum manufacturer Alro Slatina and its main shareholder Marco International will soon benefit of a $105 million syndicated loan from the international market. Alro will use the money to expand its production capacity and its environment protection facilities, while Marco will refinance the debt connected to the acquisition of Alro. The loan's lead manager will be the German bank HVB. If completed, it will be the biggest credit contracted by a private Romanian company from the international market this year after the $200 million one attracted by BCR.

ING Bank Grants $70 Mln Loan To RCS

Romania Cable Systems (RCS) has received a $70 million loan from ING Bank Romania, the funds being needed for financing the acquisitions, increasing work capital and future equity increases, said the deputy general manager of ING Bank, Misu Negritoiu. Besides the branch in Romania, the operation also includes ING Bank NV Amsterdam and The Royal Bank of Scotland. RCS is one of the most important telecommunications operators in Romania. Services for transmission of data, Internet, cable TV and fixed telephony are provided by Romania Data Systems (RDS), through RCS infrastructure.

EBRD EUR 15 Mln Loan For Banc Post

Banc Post might receive from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), a EUR 15 million credit line enabling the bank grant mortgage financing to individuals in order to help them purchase or restore dwellings. The project could get the approval of EBRD’s management after the exanimation procedure scheduled for October 19. Banc Post will grant denominated loans in different currencies, according to customers requests. Last year in May EBRD also granted Banc Post a EUR 20 million credit for a period of 11 years for the financing of the program based on mortgage credits.

Hopefully, more to come :)

Posted by Mihai : 10/11/2004 10:48:00 am
Business in Romania blog
Friday, October 08, 2004
Business in Romania blog
Yesterday, Andrei Plesu and Mircea Dinescu resigned from CNSAS due to the CNSAS vote that stated that Corneliu Vadim Tudor did not cooperated with political police before 1989.

Andrei Plesu, Mircea Dinescu, HR Patapievici and Claudiu Secasiu declared yesterday that this is the final confirmation of the useless eforts of CNSAS to put some light on what happened with today's politicians before the 1989 Revolution.

It seems that the entire political class backs up on one another, as PSD, PRM, UDMR and other parties voted that CV Tudor is clean and his files should not be made public.

Some time ago, The Romanian Information Service (SRI) stated that CV Tudor does not have any public-police files. After a while, they addmited and released 19 files for his name !!! (Is zero so close to 19??)

Despite of this, a large number of the CNSAS voted pro-Vadim, which I believe is the clear evidence that you cannot clean corruption with corrupted people.

And all this comes just 2 days after the EU addmited that the biggest problem in Romania is ... corruption.

Posted by Mihai : 10/08/2004 01:26:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
Ex-Im Bank $180 Million Guarantee Backs U.S. Exports to Build Romanian Highway

Thursday October 7, 4:45 pm ET
Source: Press Release, Export-Import Bank of the United States

WASHINGTON, Oct. 7 /PRNewswire/ -- A four-lane highway linking Romania westward to Hungary and the rest of Central Europe and eastward to the Black Sea will be built with the assistance of a $180 million loan guarantee from the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank) to support U.S. exports. The transaction will help sustain U.S. jobs and promote Romanian trade and tourism.

The Ex-Im Bank guarantee will support a loan by RZB Finance LLC, New York, N.Y. to Romania's Ministry of Transport, Construction and Tourism. It will finance a motorway project involving the export by Bechtel Overseas Corp., San Francisco, Cal., of engineering and project management services, and the export of construction and other equipment from U.S. suppliers including Caterpillar Inc., Peoria, Ill.; PACCAR INC., Kirkland, Wash.; Link-Belt Construction Equipment Co., Lexington, Ken.; and Bukkenhave Inc., Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

"This transaction will support high-quality jobs in both of our countries and help to build a vital trade and transportation artery for Romania," said Ex-Im Bank Chairman Philip Merrill. "We are eager to do more business with the growing Romanian market."

The U.S. exports under the Ex-Im Bank transaction will be used to build a 117-kilometer segment of the 415-kilometer Brasov-Cluj-Bors Motorway that will link the city of Brasov in central Romania with the Hungarian border in the northwest. The motorway will be part of an existing larger network linking Romania to the Black Sea. The 117-kilometer segment will take will four years to build. It will take nine years to complete the entire four-lane highway.

The Ex-Im Bank-guaranteed loan will be denominated in Euros in accordance with Ex-Im Bank's Foreign Currency Guarantee Program. The financing will be guaranteed by Romania's Ministry of Public Finance, carrying the full faith and credit of the Romanian government.

Ex-Im Bank this year marks its 71st year of helping finance the sale of U.S. exports, primarily to emerging markets throughout the world, by providing loan guarantees, export credit insurance, and direct loans. In fiscal year 2003, Ex-Im Bank, an independent federal agency, authorized financing to support $14.3 billion of U.S. exports worldwide. For more information on Ex- Im Bank visit

Posted by Mihai : 10/08/2004 11:50:00 am
Business in Romania blog
Thursday, October 07, 2004
Business in Romania blog
BUCHAREST -(Dow Jones)- The Romanian government said Tuesday it has selected J.P. Morgan (JPM) to act as its adviser in the privatization of state-owned savings bank Casa de Economii si Consemnatiuni SA.

JP Morgan beat Citigroup Global Markets Ltd. (C) and Credit Suisse First Boston Europe (CSF.YY) to get the contract.

The adviser has to decide with the government how much of CEC to sell and will set the terms of the privatization contract. According to CEC Chairman Enache Jiru the government will set by March 2005 a privatization strategy and invite interested investors to bid. The selloff is expected to be concluded by the end of next year.

CEC is the last bank in which the government still holds a majority stake, and the only bank in which deposits are fully guaranteed by the state. After privatization, CEC would lose the state guarantee.

CEC has a network of about 1,400 branches and offices, the largest in Romania. At the end of July, CEC assets totaled 46.05 trillion lei ($1=ROL33,449). It reported a net profit of ROL499.8 billion for the first seven months of this year, more than double the ROL232.29 billion reported in the same period of 2003.

-By Cristi Cretzan, Dow Jones Newswires; (4021) 210-8197;

Posted by Mihai : 10/07/2004 02:04:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
Business in Romania blog
Finally, it is official...we are on our way to EU, but the Commmission pointed out major problems in Romania and proposed a clause that could delay the entrance if certain commitments will fail.

Read the official news below, in a BBC Article


(source: BBC)

The European Commission has confirmed that Bulgaria and Romania are on track to join the EU in 2007 - provided they continue key reforms. But the commission proposes a clause that could delay their entry by a year if they fail to keep their commitments.

The report must still be endorsed by EU governments in December.

Bulgaria and Romania, the poorest countries in the former communist bloc, missed the first big wave of eastwards expansion last May.

Now the European Commission says they should be able to sign a joint accession treaty early next year and fulfil the criteria for membership by January 2007.

Strict conditions

For the first time, Romania is described as a "functioning market economy". But the commission says much remains to be done in both countries.

Among areas for concern are corruption, ethnic minority rights, trafficking of women for prostitution, illegal state aid to industry, media freedom, inadequate food hygiene standards and environmental pollution.

The report said Romania "remains the country of origin, transit and destination for victims of trafficking in human beings".

"The main targets of traffickers are young women and girls who are sexually exploited in destination countries," it said.

Bulgaria is seen as much better prepared than its larger neighbour, but the EU is still insisting on the unprecedented safeguard clause which could delay accession by a year, to 2008, if either Bulgaria or Romania prove manifestly unprepared for EU membership.

The entry of Romania and Bulgaria will give Greece, which joined in 1981, a land frontier with another member of the European bloc for the first time.

Entry conditions for the next in line will be even stricter.

Croatia will start negotiations early next year, but their pace will no longer depend on mere commitments on paper.

They will be driven by real reforms on the ground, which may take much longer to prove.

The EU also reserves the right to suspend negotiations in case of what the commission calls a serious and persistent breach of the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law.

Posted by Mihai : 10/06/2004 07:09:00 pm
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog
A very tough article about Romania's struggle to join the EU in 2007. Knowing also that Mr. Nastase and Mr. Geoana went to Brussels to discuss with the EU leaders before the country report will be issued, it makes me believe that some part of the article below might be true.



Romania is a "rotten apple" and Bucharest's EU membership will be opposed in the European Parliament, Liberal MEPs warned on Tuesday.

The European Commission is set to give Romania the go-ahead for EU entry by 2007 but MEPs in the parliament's third largest political group are urging a halt.

Bucharest is struggling to implement EU required justice reforms on time – changes UK Liberal Democrat Chris Davies argues are fundamental.

"Decision day is drawing near and everyone is starting to realise that the issues can no longer be swept under the carpet," he said.

"Values must be maintained, and there is a risk that we could tip the balance by letting in a still rotten apple."

Davies suggests that unfinished business to clean-up Romania's judicial system and public administration may even make Bucharest more unsuitable than Turkey to join the EU's exclusive club.

"The pressure for reform must be maintained, and the EU negotiating process is the only effective means by which this can be achieved. If a political agreement allows Romania to join the EU in 2007 the fundamental problems of that country may never be properly addressed," he said.

"It's ironic, but Turkey may even now be in a better state to join the EU than Romania is at the end of the negotiating process."

Ankara has yet to be given the green light to even begin EU entry talks, with Turkey's membership still decades away and highly controversial in Germany, Austria and France.

Liberal MEPs will move to block Romania's EU membership in a non-binding parliament vote later this year.

Corruption, human rights abuses and infringements of press freedom will top the charge sheet.

"Romania suffers from endemic problems of corruption, lacks an independent judiciary, has an inadequate free press, and has not halted torture carried out by police officers," said Liberal justice spokesman Sarah Ludford.

"Laws are being changed but the country has no mechanism to make them work in practice. The country does not yet comply with the EU's criteria for human rights and democracy, and does not appear likely to do so within the next three years."

Posted by Mihai : 10/06/2004 11:04:00 am
Business in Romania blog
Business in Romania blog

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