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E n j o y t h e Q u a l i t y ***** A d m i r e t h e V a l u e ***** N o . 7 4 / 2 0 1 8 23lei

m a g a z i n e

w w w. b u s i n e s s - a re n a . ro

SERGIU OPRESCU

EXECUTIVE PRESIDENT OF ALPHA BANK ROMANIA AND PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF THE ROMANIAN ASSOCIATION OF BANKS pages 02-04

Astute businessman with a firmer understanding of the business environment, foreseeing its changes through following the trends, humble in spirit and with a remarkable capacity to transmit tenfold his internal confidence and knowledge to others. special section inside

L U X U R Y & LIFESTYLE

TOP BRAND

pages 40 - 63


AUSTRIA-ROMANIA ROUNDTABLE BUSINESS CONFERENCE & AWARDS

2018 in partnership with

2017

Madalina Badea, Multinational Corporate Customers Director, Raiffeisen Bank Romania (left), Gerd Bommer, Head of the Commercial Section of the Austrian Embassy and Larisa Claru.

2016

Ambassador Reiweger (center) expresses his support for Austrian investors at the 2016 Austria – Romania Roundtable Business Conference and Awards.

Frequent changes in legislation and taxation, stuffy bureaucracy continue to represent major hurdles for investors in Romania. However, Austrian investors have positive expectations and continue to remain strongly committed to their development plans in this country. In this context, Business Arena is proud to announce its annual event dedicated to Austrian investors. Business leaders, bankers and entrepreneurs will all get together to discuss and share their views on the latest economic trends and challenges at Business Arena's 2018 Austria - Romania Roundtable Business Conference and Awards. Representing one of the strongest business communities in Romania, Austrian investors have created more than 100,000 jobs in over 6,800 companies, with investments totaling around ten billion EUR. The conference will look at latest economic trends and their impact on Austrian investments in Romania, bilateral trade, development prospects and challenges. Other proposed topics include EU financing and investment opportunities, new developments in energy, infrastructure, farming, industry, services, banking and finance. In line with its tradition, the event will end with an award ceremony in recognition of business success and individual efforts dedicated to the development of Austrian – Romanian business ties.

As usual, the conference will include an award presentation, on which occasion successful professionals and businesses will see their efforts and achievements recognized. For more information please contact Cosmin Stangaciu at cosmin.stangaciu@business-arena.ro or phone 0755.274.125


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EDITORIAL

by

Cristian Cojanu

NEW YEAR, NEW GOVERNMENT With everyone’s hopes for a more predictable 2018 quickly gone out the window, the new year has already seen its share of political turmoil. And, before the end of January, Romania already has a brand-new government. However, left at the whim of political leaders who seem little concerned with the stability of their own country, the new government is walking a tightrope between fiscal discipline and finding the cash to fund some ambitious plans. Meanwhile, the economic growth is expected to slow down from an estimated level of 6.5 percent last year to around four percent in 2018. At least that is the forecast put forward by Garanti Bank in its latest Macroeconomic Report. The Turkishbased bank put the decline on “a slower pace of industry and trade related to a possible economic deceleration in Germany and Italy, two of the top three destinations of Romanian exports.” As for inflation, “Garanti Bank estimates that this indicator will increase, with a new peak most likely to be reached in the first quarter of the year, while the yearly average could register a jump, from 1.3 percent in 2017, to four percent in 2018.” In this context, the bank expects the central bank (BNR)

to “act upon the rising price pressure and operate several hikes in 2018. Additionally, the bank expects the Central Bank to operate further rises of the monetary policy interest rate, which could reach 2.75 percent this year.” The bank’s report also noted that during the first monetary policy meeting this year BNR had already increased the key rate to two percent, after keeping it unchanged since mid-2015. In addition, the report points out that the current account deficit is expected to widen further, albeit at a slower pace, as wage growth is seen losing speed in 2018. “The larger deficit which is accompanied by a possible investment climate deterioration may lead to depreciation pressures in 2018, pushing the EUR/RON parity to 4.78 by the end of the year.” As for the banking sector, the bank predicts a positive year for lending, especially in the corporate segment. And while businesses still hope for some more predictability, Business Arena will continue to keep an eye on all the issues affecting the business community, reflecting its views, hopes and challenges. From all of us here at Business Arena, Enjoy the quality, Admire the value!


INTERVIEW

LEADERS CROWN THE COMPANY RATHER THAN THEMSELVES

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Sergiu Oprescu, Executive President of Alpha Bank Romania and President of the Board of the Romanian Association of Banks, is the first banker who received the Lifetime Achievement in Banking award at the first edition of Business Arena’s Awards for Excellence gala in 2017.

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You are one of the longest-serving CEOs in the banking and finance sector, and you have recently been listed among the top personalities in the Romanian economy of the last 25 years by a well-known publication. You are one of Romania’s pioneers in banking, even though you have a technical degree. Was it a calculated decision or simply a twist of fate? Quitting a career as an aviation engineer for a new beginning in an industry that was in its infancy in 1990s Romania was definitely a calculated decision. It was a difficult decision taken at a time when I had good career prospects in aviation engineering. However, I’ve never had any regrets about the change, because I had the privilege to be, at the time, as you put it, one of the pioneers of the local finance industry. I said finance because my professional path has taken me through various roles in this sector. Even though I started as a commercial banker in 1993, soon after I moved to investment banking, a market segment in which I successfully worked until 2000. I was one of the first stock exchange brokers, witnessing a very dynamic market. In late 2000 and early 2001, I was appointed President of the Bucharest Stock Exchange (BSE) and I held that position until 2006. During that time, our team managed to demutualize the stock exchange, converting it

from a mutually-owned organization, controlled by brokers, into a company. We also managed to increase the traded volume 1,000 times. When I left my position as BSE President, the traded volume stood at around ten million USD, compared to 10,000 – 15,000 USD in its early days. The banking sector raised new challenges, as I was appointed Vice President of Alpha Bank Romania. My first challenge was to work on building a new market segment, retail banking, which was nonexistent at the time. Alpha Bank Romania started mortgage lending in Romania, with the launch of its first mortgage loan product, when there was still no specialized market. Today, after 15 years of mortgage lending, Alpha Bank Romania’s total mortgage loan portfolio has exceeded one billion euro.

What is the secret of leadership in your view? In my opinion, true leaders crown their company, rather than themselves, and put themselves in the service of their employees rather than commanding them. These are two of the most important leadership lessons that I’ve learned and tried to pass on during my professional career, as I strongly believe in them. The role of a leader is to create and guide teams, to offer feedback, reinforce people’s confidence in their own strengths. Also, throughout my career, I have learned that, when you are in a quandary, the best


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SERGIU OPRESCU EXECUTIVE PRESIDENT OF ALPHA BANK ROMANIA AND PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF THE ROMANIAN ASSOCIATION OF BANKS solution is the one that gives you the biggest mental discomfort, and never the one that seems within reach. I have a keen interest in leadership models, I have studied the subject, and, over the years, I have looked more closely at two such models, both of which focus on results. The first model features hero leaders, who take charge of their teams and fully dedicate themselves to achieving the final result, even though the method used is not always a democratic process. Steve Jobs was an example of a hero leader. The second model is one where the organization is compared to a philharmonic orchestra and its leader is the conductor, the one who sets the tone and leads the team towards results. Nelson Mandela had the leadership style of a conductor.

You have been at the helm of Alpha Bank Romania for ten years, during which period the bank has consolidated its position as a strategic investor on the Romanian market. How would you characterize 2017 in terms of results and challenges? 2017 was another very good year for the bank, it was a year in which we saw the confirmation of our balanced growth strategy, with increased attention to costs. It was also a year of consolidation for Alpha Bank Romania’s business, and the nine-month financial results prove it. The financial results published at group level on September 30, 2017 show that Alpha Bank Romania, an organization with 1,800 employees,


INTERVIEW

maintained a robust profitability and retained its market share in the lending segment, while increasing its market share and deposit base. With over 23 years of operations in the Romanian market, serving corporate, retail and SME customers, we are one of the top ten banks in Romania, and that says a lot about our business model. Our strategy has been validated both by results and recognition. Alpha Bank Romania is the first Greek-owned bank in Romania to be assigned a rating from Moody’s Investors Service. Thus, the bank has a b2 baseline credit assessment (BCA), a Ba3 longterm local and foreign currency deposit rating and Counterparty Risk Assessments of Ba2. Alpha Bank Romania relies on a healthy growth, based on an open relation with its end customers and increased mutual trust, because that is the only way in which we can continue to build and innovate.

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Innovation is one of your bank’s core values. What did innovation mean for Alpha Bank in 2017? Innovation is one of our bank’s values and a component whose role is becoming more and more prominent in our activity. While in 2001 we were laying the basis for a new market segment, with the launch of the first mortgage loan product for individuals, in 2017 we were the first bank in Romania to start a partnership

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with a FinTech company. At the beginning of 2017, Alpha Bank Romania, in partnership with Deposit Solutions, launched an initiative to attract deposits from the German market via Zinspilot platform. With this partnership, we have reinforced our portfolio of highpredictability financing sources for the local market, and gained access to a major savings market such as Germany. We already know that FinTech platforms represent a European solution, a result of the single banking/finance market, therefore we can say that with this new project Alpha Bank Romania continues to do pioneering in the banking industry.

How do you see this partnership evolving in the future? We plan to make this type of service available to our customers in Romania. Shortly after the launch of our joint project, Deposit Solutions announced that it was considering expanding to new markets such as the UK and Switzerland, allowing depositors in those countries to make placements anywhere in the European Union by accessing the offers provided by the banks using the platform. Such a step forward in technological innovation generates a boost in competitiveness in the banking industry, a progress towards a single financial market, with no geographical barriers.


WORLD BANK OFFICIAL VISITS ROMANIA World Bank Vice President for Europe and Central Asia Cyril Muller met with President Iohannis and senior members of the Government in Bucharest to discuss how the World Bank can help unlock Romania’s growth potential. Muller also travelled to Iasi to meet with Mayor Mihai Chirica as well as representatives from the private sector and civil society to learn about the city’s opportunities and challenges as one of the country’s most important education and research centers.

World Bank Vice President for Europe and Central Asia Cyril Muller met with President Iohannis and senior members of the Government in Bucharest to discuss how the World Bank can help unlock Romania’s growth potential. Muller also travelled to Iasi to meet with Mayor Mihai Chirica as well as representatives from the private sector and civil society to learn about the city’s opportunities and challenges as one of the country’s most important education and research centers. According to a World Bank release, Muller’s visit took place as the organization is finalizing a comprehensive analysis of Romania’s growth opportunities and constraints. The Systematic Country Diagnostic (SCD), which was consulted closely with the Government and key stakeholders across the country, shows that Romania faces a set of challenges in unlocking more dynamic economic growth and ensuring that its benefits translate into greater prosperity for all Romanians, namely improving the quality of education and ensuring the skills of the labor force are competitive and respond to market demands; enhancing the quality of healthcare services to improve quality of life, especially for the most vulnerable; improving infrastructure to support private sector growth, facilitate trade and create more and better jobs. In this context, the World Bank is partnering with the Government of Romania to ensure the transfer of global expertise in the design of the Ploiesti-Brasov highway, which could serve as a model for similar large road infrastructure projects across Romania. “In my meetings in Bucharest and Iasi, I was

impressed by the CYRIL MULLER depth of Romania’s economic transformation and the level of private sector dynamism and ambition,” said Muller. "To continue on this trajectory and achieve long-term economic growth, Romania should ensure that every Romanian household has better access to basic public services, including education. In addition, the country should strengthen its readiness to respond to the risks of natural disasters, in particular earthquakes. As we move into a new Country Partnership Framework for 2018-23, the World Bank stands ready to work with Romania to build a stronger and more prosperous country." The World Bank opened its office in Romania in 1991. Since then, the Bank has provided over 11 billion USD in loans, guarantees and grants in all sectors of the Romanian economy. The Bank’s current portfolio includes investment lending, analytical work, and technical assistance to support Romania’s reform priorities.

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TRAVEL

This article was reproduced with the kind permission of worlditineraries.co Copyright ©World Itineraries

LUXURY BOUTIQUE VINEYARD PROPERTY LORDS OVER BUCOLIC ROMANIAN COUNTRYSIDE Atop a hill overlooking lake and mountain, a stay at Casa Isarescu means inviting Mother Nature to spoon you in bed. Located deep in verdant Romanian countryside, this elegant wine estate and traditional hacienda is the result of perseverance, planning and impressive creativity by members of the Isarescu family including 68-year-old Mugur, 27-year Governor of the Romanian National Bank, the longest serving Governor worldwide, former Prime Minister and Presidential candidate, and his talented son, Costin, a 30-year-old architect, the property’s CEO.

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BY SEAN HILLEN

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Heading upwards from the charming old town of Dr\g\[ani in the county of Valcea, a narrow road winds around 40 hectares of gently sloping Casa Is\rescu vineyard, some plantings new, some old, producing an average of 150,000 bottles per year, of memorable white, rose and red. International grape varieties include cabernet sauvignon, merlot, sauvignon blanc, pinot gris, the national t\mâioas\ Româneasc\ and locally-grown grapes, crâmpo[ie and negru de Dr\g\[ani. Table grapes include Victoria, created at Dr\g\[ani and now being planted worldwide, and Italia. Interestingly, the vineyard – like the region itself – once lay at the bottom of the sea, thus the presence of rich deposits of seashells in the soil. Through an electronic gate is an exterior courtyard featuring two classic 1970s Renault and Dacia cars and an MZ motorbike and an

elegant 19th century carriage with smooth, polished wooden wheels. The winery itself with spanking, shiny ultra-modern equipment from Italy is housed nearby, with a tasting room neatly arranged beside it. The smell of fermenting grapes in high stacks of Transylvanian oak barrels in the cellar tantalizes one’s nostrils. Outside, meandering pathways lead one around segments of vineyard beside a decorative, multi-colored rose garden and assorted bushes and shrubs. History is kept passionately alive here, with a modest, wooden ancestral wine storage shed now renovated, yet retaining some 150-year-old boards incorporated in the new structure. Framed photographs inside of family members, some dressed in traditional Romanian costumes, lining the walls, grant visual insights into bygone epochs. Here, Mugur’s grandparents, and his own parents, Aritina and Constantin Is\rescu, brought the first family wines to fruition.


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(left to right) Contented cou­ ple – father and son, Mugur and Costin Isarescu. Photo courtesy of Casa Isarescu Meanwhile, back up the pathway at the main accommodation complex, a new restaurant unfolds across an open terrace offering stunning views across a wide valley to the towering Carpathian Mountains beyond teeming with legend, myth and historical drama, much of it dating from the ancient Dacian, Celt, Roman and Medieval periods. Once inside the hacienda’s broad comfortable lobby, the true nature of this luxury property becomes abundantly clear. Furnished in the traditional style of a Romanian ‘cule’ or ‘conac’ (chateau), it is enriched with attractive artifacts, many hinting of days long gone, including decorative wooden clocks, antiques, chandeliers, 19th century paintings featuring still-lifes and animated monks busy at wine-making, ink etchings, hand-painted bottles, bronze statutes including one of a nubile maiden dressed in a toga, an old gramophone with the emblematic ‘His Masters’s Voice’ inscribed on it, beautifully varnished wooden barrels, and even a framed set of metal corkscrews from different countries and epochs. A long wooden table seats about a dozen people with soft padded armchairs in one corner beside an open, log fire offering leisurely relaxation. Terracotta tiles adorn the floor and most of the furniture is carved from oak. While the interior decor is enticing, I found no greater thrill than sitting outside on the spacious terrace, glass of Is\rescu wine or potent

homemade pálinka in hand, overlooking rows upon rows of healthy vines, pregnant with grapes, and the River Olt and lake reposing peacefully below, a soft, warm breeze on my face, listening to the silky-smooth melody of ‘Shadow Of Your Smile’ by artists such as Tony Bennett, Barbara Streisand, Gary Mulligan, ‘Old

(left to right) Sean Hillen and Mugur Isarescu Photo courtesy of worlditineraries.co

Blue Eyes’ Frank Sinatra and Kenny G. The playful company of the property’s resident cat and dog, Jolie and Hunter, enhanced the ambience even more. Rooms, bereft of ornamental clutter, make one feel gracious and well-rested.


TRAVEL

Photo: http://casaisarescu.ro/pensiune

Impressive traditional furnishings inside Casa Isarescu reflect thoughtful interior design skills, creating a relaxing atmosphere

Photos courtesy of

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worlditineraries.co

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Elaborately-carved oak furnishings, an old-style rotary-dial telephone in wooden housing and crisp fresh linen, combine with modern technology such as a wide, flatscreen TV with multiple channels, to satisfy guests. Our room – there are six in total on two levels – are fashioned in a graceful Old World manner, with intricately-engraved oak headboard on the bed, a hanging mini-chandelier and charming bedside table-lamps. This inviting sense of tasteful Romanian tradition is completed by a smooth wooden floor and handwoven carpeting with light floral designs. A painting adorning the wall behind the king-size bed features a bucolic rural countryside complete with a rambling farmhouse. Another wonderful aspect of the property is its underground vaulted crama or cellar. Dating from 1850, it features a slate stone floor, a richlyornate walnut ‘throne,’ an impressive roundtable reminding one of King Arthur and his valiant Knights, bear and wild boar hides as floor coverings and assorted artifacts such as statuettes, hunting horns, antler horns, brass candelabra and silver engravings. If it’s high-quality accommodation paired with high-quality wines, panoramic views over verdant Romanian countryside and an authentic sense of history that you seek, then Casa Isarescu must be on your highpriority vacation list.


in partnership with

The most important female figures in business, fashion, culture, and diplomacy were among the award winners at the previous editions of Business Arena’s Most Admired Business Women Awards.

As a general trend, more and more women are entering the workforce worldwide, yet more needs to be done to advance women to senior leadership positions. Even so, an increasing number of women manage industrial facilities, major companies and build their own successful businesses in Romania nowadays. They have achieved a high level of recognition. Therefore Business Arena Magazine proudly announces the upcoming special awards gala dedicated to the ladies that make a difference in business. Business Arena Magazine recognizes the creativity and leadership of women in the workplace and their vital contribution to the success of business and banking activities throughout Romania.

For more information please contact Cosmin Stangaciu at cosmin.stangaciu@business-arena.ro or phone 0755.274.125


ENTREPRENEUR

RIDING THE ROUGH ROAD TO SUCCESS

NAME: ADRIAN R|DU}| POSITION: FOUNDER COMPANY: RAMS MX SCHOOL

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BY CLAUDIA ARITON

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“You can ride it, once you’ve put it together!” Accepting his father’s challenge marked a turning point in Adrian R\du]\’s life. It happened in Spain when he was just eight years old. He was standing in front of an open box which contained a disassembled enduro motorbike. He was eager to ride it, but his father was strict and clear: “First you put it together, piece by piece, with your own hands, after that you can go for a ride.” So, he embarked on a life journey with love, interest and passion. “I have been passionate about things such as cars, trucks and bikes – anything with an engine – for as long as I can remember. I was only eight when motocross came into my life. Living in Spain with my par-

ents, I had the opportunity to see a kid training on a motocross bike. I realized I would enjoy that too. Later on, my father bought me a 50 cc enduro bike, which I had to assemble myself. I did. It took me two weeks,” he recalls. That’s when the adventure for this young entrepreneur began, an adventure which has lasted to this day. Founder of Rams MX School, a place where motocross is taught and learned, Adrian R\du]\ also boasts a great collection of trophies, which he has won in national and international competitions, since the age of 15. Looking back, he can feel proud. He has been four times National Champion, five times East European Champion, and he has also been Bulgaria’s National Champion in motocross competitions. He nostalgically recalls his


beginnings in dirt biking: “At 14, I met Ciprian teach our applicants how to ride a motocross Popescu, who initiated me in motocross trainbike. “We have students from all age groups, ing and signed me up for the first national starting from the age of four. Our target public motocross competition. It all started as a is represented by both children and adults, game, then things got more and more serious. beginner as well as advanced riders. We are Later on, I met the Cociu brothers, who had a visited by people interested in off-road, as well very good Russian trainer, so that’s how I was as speed bikes and choppers. However, we admitted into a more complex training proalso attract people who wish to perfect their gram. My brother and I started participating in skills or gain more experience by racing in diffiinternational competitions and championships cult conditions, which, in the end, makes it in foreign countries, as the level was way higheasier for them to ride a bike on the road,” er and it helped us grow.” R\du]\ explained. For R\du]\, this sport is a way of life. “I still As with most beginnings, people were reluchave a training program, I always set new tant at first. It took time, patience and determigoals and I work hard to reach those goals. nation to get students to come in. R\du]\ That’s what keeps me motivated,” he told recalls that not many applicants signed up to Business Arena Magazine in an exclusive intertrain at his school in the early days. “After view. 1989, this sport Motivation and became rather Advice for entrepreneurs: passion are key dusty and forgotingredients that “I’ve opened my school because I ten and people keep his business weren’t so keen wanted to pass on to children the going. The transition on practicing it passion for motocross, as well as anymore. In from being a sportsman to being a busirecent years, lead them into competing in nessman was a natthings have international championships. ural step he had to changed though, Things evolved from there and take. “Rams MX and more and School was born more children everything turned into a real from my passion for and adults come business. To sum up, it requires a to join our classmotocross. As I already mentioned, es. Last year, we great amount of passion and I’ve been practicing had over 100 diligence in order to start up and this sport since students, 60 kids develop this kind of business on childhood, and from and 40 adults.” the age of 15 I have Why do people the actual Romanian market.” done it on a competcome knocking itive level. When I at his door? entered into the world of this sport, I didn’t People come to Rams MX School for various see it as a prospective business. It was simply reasons, says Adrian R\du]\: “Many have my passion and my ambition to grow. But time never used a motocross bike before and are passed and maturity happened, so I realized I willing to learn, others just want to refine their could successfully combine what I’d been skills and compete in championships. Thus, doing for years with having a business in the their expectations are different based on what field.” motivates them. What we can do is offer them It all went fairly smoothly from there. “In the best technical and safety conditions, so all 2001, I established the foundation for my of them benefit from professional training.” motocross track, which has been under ongoR\du]\ started his business in 2001, with ing development and steady improvement an initial investment of over 150,000 euro, since then, and I am referring to modernizing from his own pocket. “But it’s difficult to quote its design, its space, its infrastructure and a precise figure,” he admits, “as, in 2001, we facilities. We are proud to have the only also set up the foundation for our motocross enclosed motocross track in the country, with track, which, since then, has been undergoing its own irrigation system and electricity netcontinuous development and change. We are work covering all the available space.” now considering night racing facilities for this As a school, Rams MX’s main activity is to track, meaning a floodlights system. This year,

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ENTREPRENEUR

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with the help of our partner Yamaha Europe, through its official importer in Romania, Moto Dynamics, we have managed to acquire a fleet of 25 motorbikes for our junior school. So, for the moment, we fully use what we have got, while still investing in the infrastructure of our track.” His company has further ambitions, planning to open a boogie car track right next to the motocross one. “We will acquire the vehicles from Yamaha, which is our regular partner,” he says, without disclosing when that project might begin. So far, his company has seen sustained growth, increasing its turnover by 35 percent last year as compared to 2016. And he expects an even higher turnover increase this year. “I didn’t experience major problems in opening this school,” he recollects. “Once all bureaucratic issues had been solved, everything ran quite smoothly. I already had a solid base, which allowed me to structure my training sessions the way I wanted to, and I already had people who would came to learn how to ride off-road, as well as a space with all the facilities possible. I am referring here to the TCS Racing Park sports base (which is the motocross track at Ciolpani). There will always be issues when running a business, it’s true, but none so difficult as to endanger the school’s activity in any way.” Surprising as it may seem, motocross, as a sport, used to be much more popular and encouraged in Romania before 1989, than it is now. “Romania is extremely different as compared to other countries in terms of motocross and, unfortunately, I don’t mean that in a positive way. Until 1989, the Romanian motocross school was very well positioned and the number people who practiced motocross, as a hobby or on a competitive level, was quite high. There were many motocross clubs and the state (the only sponsor actually) invested in them and in their infrastructure. After the Romanian Revolution, this sport no longer had any continuity. Nobody bothered to invest in it

anymore (I am referring to the federation), the competitions started to be scarce and insignificant, and fewer people remained involved in this sport. In the Western countries (even in Bulgaria) a motocross culture is present, that’s why these countries are more advanced that we are from that point of view. Romanian motocross market is a small one, but looking at the number of applicants interested in joining our classes, I realize that it has potential.” Based on his experience in the field and as a coach, Adrian R\du]\ can identify the potential this sport has on the Romanian market, but with two amendments, he confesses: “it is not sufficiently marketed and communicated to the public at national level.” He believes the authorities are no longer interested in investing in motocross (“to be honest, they won’t do it even for the sports where we do get very good results”) or in reviving the spirit of this sport, so everything is left at the mercy of those who have an initiative and wish to invest in it. “In other words, the only way to evolve and develop as a motocross sportsman is to rely on your own resources. Unfortunately, we are the only motocross school in Romania. We can only hope that, in time, motocross will gain more prominence and more schools open their doors to students. I believe our school is on an upward trend and will continue to grow. Motorcycling is a passion and a gateway to escape the mundane. So, I hope more and more people will practice it, as safely as possible. “ With these words, he touched a very sensitive cord in the mind of many Romanians, who


are maybe too cautious to try out a sport which, at first glance, might seem expensive, dangerous and not for the faint of heart. “It is not an expensive sport, when compared to others out there, and it is wrongly considered, unfortunately, a dangerous sport. This is exactly what we are trying to do at Rams MX School – teach others, both children and adults, the secrets of motocross and the correct steps to practice it well and safely. We try to educate people this way, through videos, photos and postings on the social networks from all our training sessions and races, where even five-year-olds are brought by their parents, who are either bikers themselves or just wish to offer the young ones an education in terms of two-wheel locomotion. It is mainly parents’ responsibility, as it is them who have to be aware that what we are trying to do and what we are trying to offer children is a good thing for their health and for their life. The more they try to prohibit something, the more children will want that thing. And if, when they turn 18, the first thing children think of when purchasing a motorcycle is a speed engine of 1,000 cubic centimeters, there is a high possibility that everything will end up very wrong.” As with any other sport out there, the manager of Rams MX School admits that risks of having accidents when practicing motocross do exist. “I admit that I learned motocross… at the expense of my own bones. But, of course, it doesn’t mean you necessarily have to suffer injuries while practicing it. With a good coach, who is able to show you the correct steps, so you won’t end up injured, and with lots of training, all the side effects of this sport can be avoided. What’s also true is that motocross entails some expenses, such as those with equipment and accessories. It could be a downside for many. At our school, the average cost for a children’s course is 200 euro and for adults the price rises to 350 euro for a course containing 10 sessions. If you see the positive aspects of it, you won’t hesitate: this

sport helps you mature, shapes a strong personality, gives you discipline and makes you more responsible, calculated and better physically trained.” Apart from coming out a winner from any endeavor, Adrian R\du]\ shared with us his many other ambitious goals. As a manager, the 32-year-old entrepreneur wishes to develop his private school harmoniously, to maintain a high level for all the equipment he uses at his school and all the safety systems, and to attract the support of motocross. As a coach, he wishes to train children who can later become champions in international competitions. He actually describes organizing his first children’s competition in motocross as one of the most beautiful and remarkable memories of his life. It was something he had dreamt of for a long time and he had the opportunity to see it happen. Moreover, he will always cherish his memories from events which have taken place at his track and from various stages of the World, European and National championships he has participated in. In fact, he loves his two-wheeled friends so much that he uses them as a daily means of transportation throughout the Capital. “I totally support this way of getting from point A to point B in the city. It is faster and the consumption level is considerably lower than that of a car. I use the maxi-scooter as often as I can.” It is a good example of how the mentality of a bike-user should be like. “Whoever wants to try motocross should first and foremost love this sport, with all the risks involved. Then, one should be fully aware that the path to winning a championship is full of sacrifices and all sort of choices that a player will have to make. Perseverance, determination and a serious outlook are important elements, necessary for all motocross sportsmen.” How about the entrepreneurs who would like to start a similar business? What should they know from the only general manager in this field in Romania? “I’ve opened my school because I wanted to pass on to children the passion for motocross, as well as lead them into competing in international championships. Things evolved from there and everything turned into a real business. To sum up, it requires a great amount of passion and diligence in order to start up and develop this kind of business on the actual Romanian market.”

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SUPERFORECASTING THE FUTURE OF EUROPE

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The United Kingdom is preparing to leave the European Union. Mainstream political parties are breaking down across the Continent. Separatist movements are on the rise. Is Europe careening toward a cliff, or are these just bumps in the road to a more integrated Continental bloc?

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Superforecasting can help us decide which is the more likely answer. With a combination of innate talent, training, teamwork and predictive aggregation, Superforecasting teams like Good Judgment have developed a unique approach to intelligence analysis that relies on quantitative forecasts of discrete events to predict a broader outcome. As Philip Tetlock and Dan Gardner have explained to Stratfor readers, and in their best-selling book Superforecasting, using numerical probabilities helps boost the accuracy, accountability and clarity of assessments. By contrast, the slippery “vague verbiage” of terms like “could” and “might” can signal a frustratingly wide array of possible outcomes. According to Stratfor Vice President of Strategic Analysis Rodger Baker, combining quantitative rigor with qualitative detail offers the best of both worlds, providing more meaning and context to numerical estimates. Good Judgment’s Future of Europe Index, produced in conjunction with Stratfor’s team of Europe analysts, is designed to strike that balance. Clustering: Making More Rigorous and Relevant Forecasts Figuring out the probability of a single distinct event is tough. But tackling bigger topics made up of many of those events is even more challenging, in part because of a problem researchers call the “rigor-relevance tradeoff.” Consider the question posed at the beginning of this column: What does the future look like for European unity? The subject is highly relevant to the decisions world leaders must make today, but crafting a clear, rigorous and testable question about it is nearly impossible. What does “unity” really mean? How would we determine its strength or weakness? What time frame are we trying to examine? Narrowing down the details — “Will Catalonia hold an independence referendum by the end of 2017?” — yields a much more testable proposition. But in checking all the boxes required to form a rigorous question, narrow topics lose their rele-

vance to policymakers trying to determine the stability of the entire Continent down the line. Good Judgment has pioneered a methodology aimed at solving that problem. By carefully crafting interrelated questions about discrete events that, in combination, shed light on a broader topic, analysts can boost the relevance of their forecast without compromising its rigor. In a research study sponsored and validated by the U.S. Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity from 20112015, the Good Judgment team showed how to boost the accuracy of individual forecasts, outperforming the collective forecasts of intelligence analysts in the U.S. government by 30 percent. Since then, Superforecasters have refined and expanded their approach to evaluate emerging consumer trends, inform product development and understand the factors driving commodity markets. Indexing: Spotting Early Warning Signs While the outcome of Catalonia’s independence referendum may not be decisive for the future of Europe as a whole, the fact that Catalan voters favored a split from Spain’s central government signals greater stress on European unity. The same would be true if a region of the United Kingdom were to seek a similar plebiscite, for example, or if the European Council were to sanction Poland for controversial reforms to its judicial system. Aggregating the probabilities that Superforecasters assign to such specific questions can offer early warnings about the deeper geopolitical trends underway. Economists and financial analysts often use the same technique, known as a “diffusion index,” to achieve similar goals, such as spotting inflection points in the business cycle and evaluating the breadth of change in securities prices. In fact, the power of the diffusion index is its focus on change: It tells you, in advance, of the troubles or opportunities that lie ahead. With this concept in mind, Good Judgment merged its research on clustering groups of questions with the diffusion index model to create a brand new framework for analysis: the Future of


Europe Index. The index works like this: It compares the aggregate forecast for each question in the index with where it was the month prior. The resulting index value reflects the proportion of forecasts that suggest European unity is increasing. A value of 100 means that all forecasts favoring unity are higher, or considered more likely, this month than they were last month. A value of -100, on the other hand, means that all forecasts favoring unity have fallen, or are considered less likely. A reading of zero is neutral, showing that the forecasts have undergone no net change since the previous month. At the beginning of last year, the Future of Europe Index dropped as European unity came under strain ahead of France’s presidential election in April. Though Superforecasters considered the likelihood of a victory for far-right candidate Marine Le Pen to be low, their assessments climbed to 26 percent throughout the campaign season. As the probability of a win for the Euroskeptic candidate rose, the prospects for European unity dimmed. But the tides turned in March as Le Pen’s centrist rival, Emmanuel Macron, gained ground in the polls. Le Pen’s loss in the first round of the presidential election nudged the index’s value higher still, setting the stage for a period of relative stability on the Continent — and for the Future of Europe. The index then stayed fairly stable throughout the summer months. Autumn, however, brought new bellwethers of stress for the Continent’s cohesion, including Catalonia’s preparations for an independence referendum in October. As the regional government in Barcelona pressed forward with the vote despite vigorous opposition from Madrid, Superforecasters increasingly considered the referendum likely to happen. In recent weeks, the Future of Europe Index has dipped back down into negative territory. Italy’s approaching general election, set for March 4, has become a pivotal issue in the index since the political winds have favored the anti-establishment Five Star Movement and its campaign to revisit the country’s relationship with the eurozone. Over the past few months, Superforecasters have steadily ratcheted up their estimates of the party’s chances for clinching the most seats in the next Italian government — putting downward pressure on the prospects for European unity. Though each of these case studies focuses on electoral outcomes, the Future of Europe Index contains a wider cross-section of questions that cumulatively monitor the amount of strain on Continental unity. Superforecasters have likewise tempered their predictions that the European Union will gain a new member in the near future, that

Sweden’s centrist parties will be able to contain the populist Sweden Democrats, and that the European Parliament will adopt a new bank deposit insurance plan. These adjustments bode ill for the European project, as does German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s protracted struggle to form a new government in Berlin. Even so, on balance the index suggests that the future of Continental unity is getting brighter, however bumpy the path may be along the way. Crowdsourcing: Scanning for New Risks Professional Superforecasters are constantly on the lookout for new information, fresh perspectives and potential risk factors that challenge their views. This robust dialogue, which takes place every day on Good Judgment’s internal forecasting platform, is a critical source of inspiration for new forecast questions that complements input from clients and subject matter experts such as Stratfor analysts. We would like to widen this dialogue even further by inviting Stratfor readers to recommend questions you think we should add to the Future of Europe Index. You can also find the latest report on the index’s value on Good Judgment’s website, along with a more in-depth look at the current questions contributing to the forecast. Improve Your Own Forecasting Skills Not everyone is a Superforecaster, but we can all improve our forecasting skills through training, practice and feedback. And for Stratfor readers who are interested in joining the fray, we offer you two opportunities. First, we welcome you to join our public forecasting tournament, Good Judgment Open. There you’ll find a rich variety of questions about politics, finance and popular culture that you can use to practice the principles of Superforecasting. You’ll also become part of a pipeline for identifying and cultivating new Superforecasters. Second, Stratfor readers who missed out on Good Judgment’s first government-funded research project will have another shot with the Hybrid Forecasting Competition. The project aims to use a combination of human and artificial intelligence to push the frontiers of forecasting. The first round of the tournament will begin soon, so register now to reserve your spot. These are exciting times for forecasters around the globe. New, scientifically validated techniques have dramatically improved our ability to predict the future with greater accuracy, and more innovations are on the way. With these tools in hand, we can all be better equipped to filter out the noise in today’s headlines and listen for the true signals of what lies ahead.

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BUSINESS NEWS

GARANTI BANK GRANTS LOAN TO SOFTRONIC TO FINANCE HYPERION 3

Garanti Bank has granted a 14 million lei loan to Softronic, a manufacturer of electric multiple unit trains and electric locomotives, for the production of Hyperion 3. The new train is to be launched in the second half of 2018. Hyperion is the first electric multiple unit

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CAGRI MEMISOGLU

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train manufactured in Romania and it is suitable for regional, inter-regional and intercity transport. The first model was launched in 2014, when Garanti Bank bank granted a 20 million lei loan to Softronic for its manufacturing. “We are proud to once again join forces with Softronic for the manufacturing of this state-of-the-art train. Garanti Bank is a strong supporter of the Romanian business environment and of ambitious and innovative projects, such as Hyperion 3, that contribute to the sustainable development of the local economy. We are very active in the corporate segment, which is a strong business line for us, mainly due to our success in establishing longstanding relationships with our customers. We will maintain our momentum in this regard, as well as our long-term commitment to our customers in 2018 and in the years to come,” said Cagri Memisoglu, Deputy General Manager, Garanti Bank. Hyperion has four asynchronous 430 kW motors. When braked, it recovers energy and delivers half the consumption of a classic train. The train can reach a top speed of 160 km/h and includes modern equipment, produced by companies such as ABB, Knorr Bremse, Lucchini, Voight, Ultimate, etc

EBRD INVESTMENT IN ROMANIA EXCEEDS HALF A BILLION EUROS IN 2017

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) invested over half a billion euros in the Romanian economy in 2017. The bank supported 29 projects with 546 million euro of debt and equity investments last year. Of this financing, 93 per cent was provided to the private sector. Last year’s investment was close to the seven-year high mark of 612 million euro, provided in 2012. Equity investment reached an all-time record of 122 million euro in nine deals. According to an EBRD release, the 2017 results bring total EBRD investment in Romania to 7.8 billion euro, and the number of projects in the country to 415 at the end of the year. Thus, last year, the EBRD financed greenfield investments such as a recycling facility for industrial oil waste and a new plant for soft alloys. The bank also financed the expansion of a local pharmaceutical retail chain and a real estate development for logistics in the outskirts of Bucharest. Equity investments include a local agriculture holding, a popular supermarket chain, and a company targeting oil & gas exploration in the Black Sea. The bank also financed municipal infrastructure projects such as new buses for Sibiu, Brasov and Constanta.

MATTEO PATRONE The EBRD was very active in the capital markets, backing landmark bond issues, supporting alternative methods of financing, such as leasing, providing business advice and financing to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The year also saw two partner banks joining the new Green Economy Financing Facility


(GEFF) for Romania, which blends EBRD money with concessional funding from the International Cooperation and Development Fund (TaiwanICDF) for energy-saving investments in residential buildings. Funding from GEFF was provided to Banca Transilvania and UniCredit, which are now on-lending the funds to households and housing associations. Matteo Patrone, EBRD Director for Romania and Bulgaria, said: “I am very pleased that we could support such a high number of important projects in 2017. We hope to continue investing strongly in 2018 and will maintain focus on the private sector. We are also planning several investments in municipal infrastructure and stand ready to support the authorities in advancing infrastructure initiatives and restructuring state-owned enterprises.”

LIBRA INTERNET BANK SECURES EBRD LOAN TO SUPPORT EXPANSION OF LOCAL BUSINESSES

The EBRD is providing a 15-million-euro loan to Libra Internet Bank to increase its support for the development of local small businesses. According to an EBRD release, the funds will be used by Libra Internet Bank to finance local micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs). Libra Internet Bank Romania was founded in 1996 and is controlled by the American investment group New Century Holdings. The bank provides a broad range of products and services with a main focus on SMEs, corporates, agribusiness and professionals. Matteo Patrone, EBRD Regional Director for Romania and Bulgaria, said: “Improving access to finance for Romanian micro and small businesses remains a key priority for the EBRD’s work in the country. We are looking forward to the results of this loan as we are aiming to increase the support we provide to local private entrepreneurs in the near future.” Lucyna Stańczak-Wuczyńska, EBRD Director for EU Banks, added: “The loan will support Libra Internet Bank to grow its business by expanding its outreach to new clients. We are confident this project will become a good example how an innovative bank meets the demands of innovative enterprises for the creation of real value.” Emil Bituleanu, Libra Internet Bank General Director, said: "We are confident in successfully running our first agreement with the EBRD. It

represents a continuation of our efforts to develop innovative and affordable financing products for our clients."

ENDAVA AND VELOCITY PARTNERS ANNOUNCE MERGER

The merger between Velocity Partners, a software development company with a strong presence in Latin America, and Endava, a global technology company with a sustained consistent growth and offices across North America, Western PETER STROEVE Europe, Central Europe and Latin America, will create a global IT player able to bring to clients more options in terms of service, technology, scalability and geography. The resulting organization will have over 4,600 people, and the additional six agile software development centres across Argentina, Uruguay, Venezuela, and Colombia will complement Endava’s existing delivery capability from centers across Romania, Moldova, Bulgaria, Serbia, Macedonia, and Colombia. This will enable Endava to further expand its footprint in North America and offer the worldclass nearshore delivery model which has fueled its success over the years. The company has a strong business performance with revenues up 38 percent year on year, supported by a mix of solid organic growth and acquisition-led international expansion. Peter Stroeve, Managing Partner at Velocity Partners, said: “We always aimed to be the nearshore Agile software leader, where talented people achieve their potential and clients gain a partner they trust. By becoming part of the Endava group, our clients will have access to an expanded set of solutions and services, while giving our staff access to new career paths, which will translate into new opportunities to work in global projects, as well as improved work environments and access to better training programs.” In turn, John Cotterell, Endava’s CEO, said: “The Velocity team has distributed Agile in their DNA and an innovative approach, which will mean added capabilities to help our clients on their journey from idea to production and enable them to be more engaging, responsive and efficient. We are building a global technology company and we are an aspirational brand for IT professionals in the regions in which we operate, attracting the best talent and offering great career and people development opportunities.”

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REAL ESTATE

ROMANIA SEES GROWING PROPERTY INVESTMENT VOLUMES

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Last year’s property investment volume in Romania is estimated at nearly one billion euro, representing an increase of around 10 percent from the previous year’s level (890 million euro), according to JLL’s CEE Investment Market H2 2017 report. Thus, Romania’s investment share stood at around right percent of the total 12.17-billion-euro Central & Eastern Europe (CEE) investment figure.

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While emphasizing that the macro-economic forecast for Romania continues to be positive, the report points out that the country is expected to hold its position as the EU’s top performer, with a 2018 GDP increase forecast of 5.5 percent. Looking at market details, the report points out that the number of transactions increased in 2017, while the average deal size reached around 28.5 million euro. JLL’s report also notes that Bucharest accounted for around 36 percent of the total investment volume, down from 2016, and showing that liquidity in secondary cities has improved. Retail transactions dominated market volumes, taking 43 percent of the total, while industrial, office and hotels accounted for over 22 percent, 17 percent and 18 percent respectively. Last year’s largest transaction was the acquisition of 50 percent of Iulius Group’s retail and office portfolio (Iulius Mall Cluj-Napoca, Iulius Mall Iasi, Iulius Mall Timisoara and Iulius Mall Suceava and three office buildings) by South African group Atterbury. The report listed as the second most important retail transaction the acquisition by Mitiska of a portfolio consisting 11 retail properties and three development projects from Alpha Group, for around 60 million euro. In the office segment, the most important office transaction was the acquisition by Immochan of Coresi Business Park in Brasov from Ascenta Management. Other major transactions include the acquisition of Green Court Building C by Globalworth, from Skanska for 38 million euro and the sale of ART BC to Hili Properties for 30 million euro. In the industrial segment, the acquisition of Logicor’s Romanian portfolio as part of a PanEuropean transaction by China Investment Corporation form Blackstone was the largest deal in 2017. The value of the transaction is estimated at around 78 million euro. Other major deals

included the acquisition of the Renault warehouse in Oarja by Globalworth for 42 million euro. A key transaction was the sale of the Radisson Hospitality Complex in Bucharest by Elbit Imaging, a NASDAQ listed company, to a joint venture between Revetas Capital and Cerberus Capital Management. According to JLL’s report, “the sale represents the largest ever hotel transaction by deal volume in Romania and one of the largest recorded in CEE”. The report highlights the fact that the transaction “not only demonstrates institutional interest in the hotel market, but it shows there is liquidity for large, core real estate assets in the country. Bucharest, the largest city in CEE with excellent economic dynamics, is starting to gain recognition and will attract capital, even when it comes to large single asset deals.” As for yields, the spread between Romania and Poland, Czech Republic and Hungary remains close to or at record levels. The report also notes that liquidity has improved, but is still well below potential due to a “limited availability of quality product for sale in open market processes at realistic pricing expectations. However, the situation looks set to change in 2018 with several large transactions already on the way.” Prime office yields stand at 7.50 percent, prime retail yields at 7.25 percent, while prime industrial yields are at 8.50 percent. In turn, yields for office and retail are unchanged from the year before, while industrial yields contracted by 50 bps over the year. “There is soft downward pressure on yields and in 2018, we may witness limited compression in case prime assets will transact,” the report added. In terms of financing, JLL expects terms and conditions to get closer to what can be expected in the core CEE markets. “Consequently, sentiment is strong, with a total volume for 2018 estimated to break the one-billion-euro mark.”


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NOBEL LAUREATE STIGLITZ:

“WHY DO PEOPLE WANT BITCOIN?”

"WE HAVE A GOOD MEDIUM OF EXCHANGE CALLED THE DOLLAR...WE CAN TRADE IN THAT."

Joseph Stiglitz believes that Bitcoin is simply unnecessary. He told Bloomberg TV that it is attempting to solve a problem that never existed. Joseph Stiglitz believes that Bitcoin is simply unnecessary. He told Bloomberg TV that it is attempting to solve a problem that never existed, according to investing.com Learn how to buy Bitcoin and Ethereum safely with our simple guide! “We have a good medium of exchange called the dollar…we can trade in that. Why do people want bitcoin? For secrecy. The banking system can and is already moving toward greater use of digital payments, but you don’t need bitcoin for that,” said Stiglitz. Talking in Davos, Switzerland, where the World Economic Forum is to be held, Stiglitz explained that in his opinion, the only advantage to the system is secrecy. Thus, as cryptocurrency becomes more mainstream, it will negate itself: “So by regulating the abuses you are going to regulate it out of existence,” he said. Joseph Stiglitz is an American economist and a professor at Columbia University. A Nobel laureate and former chief economist of the World Bank, he was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine in 2011. His books include “Globalization and Its Discontents Revisited”, “The Euro and Its Threat to the Future of Europe”, “Rewriting the Rules of the American Economy”, and “The Great Divide”. Opinions such as these have been far from uncommon amongst public figures, but

generally scepticism has been either from members of the financial establishment that feel a threat to their monopoly, and government agents who fear a market crash and/or loss of tax revenue. Stiglitz is not of this school, however. He said in a New York Times article in 2014: “Widening and deepening inequality is not driven by immutable economic laws, but by laws we have written ourselves.” The theme of his work over the years has been that laissez-faire economics does not lead to maximum efficiency, and breeds inequality. He said in 1986: “Individuals and firms, in the pursuit of their self-interest, are not necessarily, or in general, led as if by an invisible hand, to economic efficiency.” He believes that a guiding hand is necessary to create efficiency and to negate inequality. So Bitcoin, to him, “doesn’t serve any socially useful function.” He said in 2006: “The real debate today is about finding the right balance between the market and government. Both are needed. They can each complement each other. This balance will differ from time to time and place to place.” It could be argued that the popularity of cryptocurrency is a symptom of dissatisfaction, as governments have thus far failed to provide an adequate guiding hand and stem inequality with the currencies that they create.


BUSINESS

GARANTI BANK APPOINTS IULIU MUREȘAN AS DEPUTY GENERAL MANAGER

Garanti Bank has appointed Iuliu Mure an as Deputy General Manager, in charge with coordinating Risk Area activities: Risk Management, Internal Control, Compliance and Corporate

UFUK TANDOGAN Governance. His appointment is subject to relevant central bank approvals. With over 17 years’ experience in the banking industry, Iuliu Muresan has strong expertise in the area of risk management, having held the position of Chief Risk Officer and Executive Board member with Bank Leumi Romania. “We are happy to welcome Iuliu Muresan in Garanti Bank’s team. With his strong knowledge, professionalism and experiencee, he will bring a significant contribution to our organization as a whole, as we continue our plans of growing on the local market”, stated Ufuk Tandogan, CEO, Garanti Bank. The new Garanti Bank Deputy General Manager is a graduate in Economic Sciences from the Babe[-Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca and has a Masters’ Degree in the same subject.

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BANCA TRANSILVANIA BUYS STAKE IN VICTORIABANK

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Banca Transilvania has acquired a 39.2 percent stake in Victoriabank, the third largest bank in Moldova. Following the transaction, the Romanian bank has become the largest shareholder in Victoriabank. The EBRD, a minority shareholder, and Banca Transilvania now jointly hold a controlling stake of 66.7 per cent in the Moldovan lender. In line with Moldovan law they will offer to buy the remaining shares. This transaction represents the first foreign investment in Moldova’s banking sector in the last 10 years. After the acquisition, Banca Transilvania listed

as priorities supporting Moldova’s business environment, especially the SME and microenterprise sector, developing a wider range of products and services for retail clients, bringing the organizational culture and corporate governance of Victoriabank in line with those of the Banca Transilvania Financial Group, and becoming involved in the personal and professional development of people with entrepreneurial spirit in Moldova, through meetings and courses organized by BT Club, which are meant to provide learning and networking opportunities. Victoriabank has been in operation for nearly 30 years, it has around 540,000 customers, 1,400 employees and nearly 100 units. The bank enjoys a high degree of customer confidence, having the highest level of deposits to total assets in Moldova, namely 80 percent, while the loan/deposit ratio is the lowest, at 39 percent. Banca Transilvania Financial Group has been present in Moldova for over 10 years, when it launched BT Leasing MD, which is market leader in lease finance for fixed assets.

VODAFONE ROMANIA APPOINTS NEW CUSTOMER OPERATIONS DIRECTOR

Ioana Mihailescu, the former Director Channel Strategy & Customer Value Management within Vodafone Romania’s Consumer Business Unit, has taken over the role of Customer Operations Director, replacing Ana Alexe, who has been appointed Vodafone Hutchinson Australia’s Customer Operations Director, based in Sydney. In her new position, Ioana Mihailescu reports to Vodafone Romania’s CEO, Murielle Lorilloux, and is be a member of the executive management team. Ioana Mihailescu held the position of Director Channel Strategy & Customer Value Management since 2014. Previously, she was the operator’s Customer Operations Support Director for two years. She also has extensive leadership experience in banking and financial field. Ana Alexe joined Vodafone in 2003 and has held a number of senior leadership roles across customer relations, customer operations and customer experience both in Vodafone Romania and Qatar. In 2012 she was appointed Customer Operations Director in Romania. In her new role in Sydney, Ana will report to Vodafone Hutchinson Australia’s CEO, Iñaki Berroeta, who was Vodafone Romania’s CEO during 2010-2014.


in partnership with

Business Arena Magazine is proud to announce the 18th edition of its annual event dedicated to the leaders in the financial market:

FINANCIAL LEADERS’ HALL OF FAME 2018!

Some 200 persons from the financial and baking sectors, directors of investment funds and representatives of some of the largest companies in Romania, together with representatives of the local authorities, high government officials and diplomats will take part in this exclusive event. Invited to give the opening remarks at last year's edition, Radu Gratian Ghetea, President of CEC Bank and Honorary President of the Romanian Banking Association, emphasized that Romania needed true leaders in business, but he pointed out that the path to becoming a leader was long and difficult. "From graduating university to actually becoming a manager and then from being manager to becoming a leader we are looking at two very long journeys that need to be traveled. Tonight, we are about to find out who are the people and organizations that have succeeded in achieving leadership status in their business sectors,� said Ghetea. Business Arena Magazine is proud to recognize the achievements and successes of banks, financial institutions and business leaders that have found the winning strategies in spite of the challenging economic background.

For more information please contact Cosmin Stangaciu at cosmin.stangaciu@business-arena.ro or phone 0755.274.125


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MORE THAN 3,000 LEADERS FROM AROUND THE WORLD GATHERED FOR THE WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM’S 48TH ANNUAL MEETING IN DAVOS-KLOSTERS, SWITZERLAND. THE PARTICIPANTS LOOKED AT NEW WAYS OF SHAPING THE GLOBAL, REGIONAL AND INDUSTRY AGENDAS.


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2018


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PRESIDENT MACRON UNVEILS BOLD, INCLUSIVE AGENDA FOR GLOBALIZATION

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President Emmanuel Macron of France outlined his agenda to create a more competitive France and address the concerns of many French citizens on globalization. He told participants at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting: “The objective is very simple and straightforward – make France more competitive, more innovative, in order to finance … a fair system.” “France has been very much affected by structural change and its relationship with globalization. I have to fight with a nationalist party because there are many fears in my own country – because we didn’t deliver properly,” said Macron. “Some people think the solution is to get out of globalization. And that gives me a special responsibility of building a France that is open to the rest of the world, and standing beside those who have been forgotten and left behind by globalization – and to show that it benefits the middle and lower classes.” Macron outlined to participants the five pillars of his reform plan: education, investment and capital, acceleration and flexibility, fighting climate change, and what he called “cultural change”. He pledged 15 billion over the next five years to train and reskill workers. He urged special attention to the education of women, not just in France but globally, noting that women make up two-thirds of the over 750 million people who don’t possess basic literacy skills. Under the rubric of investment and capital, Macron highlighted France’s corporate tax rate cuts and capital gains tax refunds, measures, which he said, have accelerated France’s recovery and “reinforced France’s attractiveness”. Macron defined acceleration and flexibility in terms of realigning France “on Germany and Northern Europe”, shifting from “rules defined by law” towards rules “defined by consensus” and by reducing total costs associated with energy, housing and transport to make the French economy more nimble and responsive. The French president said he would “make

France a model in the fight against climate change” his fourth pillar, and announced his intention to close all coal-fired power plants in France by 2021. Attributing France’s penchant for regulations, laws and taxes to something rooted in French culture, Macron said that in the past six months his administration has worked “like crazy” to reduce the number of regulations. He underscored the importance of visibility as critical to guaranteeing predictability, and thus stability. France, he said, is a “nation of entrepreneurs”, but cultural norms raise obstacles to entrepreneurship. Now, however, with his reform agenda under way, “France is back – back at the core of Europe. Because we will never have French success without European success. All of these initiatives and reforms have a natural counterpart, which is European strategy.” He went on to say: “If we want to avoid fragmentation of the world, we need a stronger Europe. It’s absolutely key. In my view we have to redesign a 10-year strategy to make Europe an actual economic, social, green, scientific and political power.” Macron also called for a more robust International Monetary Fund with a broader mandate that would include regulatory authority over parts of the financial system that currently escape regulation – including cryptocurrencies and the shadow banking system. He voiced concern over the ability of large tech firms to avoid effective taxation and regulation. “At what point are we going to stop innovation?” he asked, noting the potential for unfettered tech companies to do substantial damage to social interests. Macron also expressed concern over the “race to the bottom” between countries competing for corporations and the jobs they create through ever-lower corporate tax rates. “We need to renounce unbridled tax optimization,” he said. Fon Mathuros, Head of Media, World Economic Forum


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EUROPEAN LEADERS CALL FOR A STRONGER EUROPE; REJECT PROTECTIONISM “European political systems are going through radical changes,” Paolo Gentiloni, Prime Minister of Italy, told participants in a special address at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting. “Political fragmentation is a new feature of

“Germany is a country committed to finding multilateral solutions. Unilateral action and protectionism are not the answer,” she said. We want an ever-closer union, she added. “Let us not shut ourselves off from the world. Let us

PAOLO GENTILONI the old continent,” he added. New political groups are forming in response to widespread discontent, offering shortcuts and demagoguery. Frequently, these groups ask the right questions but offer the wrong answers. Large segments of population are indeed dissatisfied, migration remains a hot-button issue and social cleavages remain open under the long shadow of the global and European financial crises. “Inequality is still rising, reaching intolerable levels, even as growth increases,” he said. We cannot end up in a world with a cosmopolitan digital elite and an army of discontented workers.” He added: “Today we must answer positively and decisively the call for a stronger Europe. Our history and roots are not synonymous with protectionism.” In another special address, Angela Merkel, Federal Chancellor of Germany, also highlighted the shared challenges of migration and rising polarization in Europe. Polarization is worse than it has been in decades and, 100 years after the catastrophe of the First World War, she expressed worries that some of the lessons of history might be forgotten.

ANGELA MERKEL

keep pace with the best in the world and prepare ourselves to withstand the crises of the future.” Merkel also called for a common European foreign policy. “We need to send clear, united signals to China, the United States and other large markets. We will fail if we do it separately,” she said. Fon Mathuros, Head of Media, World Economic Forum


WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM 2018

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TO PREVENT A DIGITAL DARK AGE: WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM LAUNCHES GLOBAL CENTRE FOR CYBERSECURITY

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The World Economic Forum announced today a new Global Centre for Cybersecurity to help build a safe and secure global cyberspace. The centre will be based in Geneva, Switzerland, and will function as an autonomous organization under the auspices of the World Economic Forum. The aim of the centre is to establish the first global platform for governments, businesses, experts and law enforcement agencies to collaborate on cybersecurity challenges. As a truly borderless problem, cyber-attacks are surpassing the capacities and institutions that are currently dealing with this threat in an isolated manner. Only through collaboration, information exchange and common standards can the global community successfully counter organized digital crime. “If we want to prevent a digital dark age, we need to work harder to make sure the benefits and potential of the Fourth Industrial Revolution are secure and safe for society. The new Global Centre for Cybersecurity is designed as the first platform to tackle today’s cyber-risks in a truly global manner,” said Alois Zwinggi, Managing Director at the World Economic Forum and Head of the Global Centre for Cybersecurity. New technologies like artificial intelligence, the internet of things and robotics and their application in sensitive areas such as finance, healthcare, telecommunications and mobility make it all the more important to keep up with the increasing speed and sophistication of cyber-attacks. “Interpol is a natural strategic partner for the World Economic Forum’s Global Cyber Centre. Both are unique because their global dimension underpins our collective response against the

cyber threat. Our partnership contributes to building effective security architecture against such global threats, bringing key interdependent actors together, including police and business,” said Jürgen Stock, Secretary General of Interpol. The cost of cybercrime to the global economy could go up to $500 billion annually, according to experts. In comparison, the annual GDP of Switzerland in 2017 is estimated at $659 billion. The World Economic Forum has recognized cybersecurity as one of the world’s most critical risks. In response, the new Global Centre for Cybersecurity will draw on the Forum’s government and industry support to work towards a more secure cyberspace through its established multistakeholder approach. “As one of the world’s largest dedicated security practices, BT is supporting the creation of a new Global Centre for Cybersecurity. We believe that closer, cross-border collaboration between the public and private sectors, in the form of sharing threat information and best practice, is critical if we are to succeed in combating cybercrime,” said Gavin Patterson, Chief Executive, BT Group, United Kingdom. The centre will focus on the following aims: · Consolidating existing cybersecurity initiatives of the World Economic Forum · Establishing an independent library of cyber best practices · Helping partners to enhance knowledge on cybersecurity · Working towards an appropriate and agile regulatory framework on cybersecurity · Serving as a laboratory and early-warning think tank for future cybersecurity scenarios Georg Schmitt, Head of Corporate Affairs, World Economic Forum


US PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

‘AMERICA FIRST DOES NOT MEAN AMERICA ALONE’

US President Donald J. Trump gave a carefully scripted address to participants at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, taking credit for strong economic growth in the first year of his presidency, with stock markets setting records and high levels of consumer and manufacturing confidence, and job creation. Trump said has seen unemployment among African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and women reach all-time lows. “I am here to deliver a simple message,” said the president. “There has never been a better time to hire, to build, to invest, and to grow in the United States. America is open for business and we are competitive once again.” The US president noted that millions of employees of US-based corporations have been issued tax-cut bonuses from their employers after he signed a bill that substantially lowers US corporate tax rates. “The tax cut bill is expected to raise the average American’s household income by more than $4,000,” he said. Trump also credited lower corporate tax rates with bringing jobs and investment dollars back to American shores. “[T]he world’s largest company, Apple, announced it will bring $245 billion dollars in overseas profits home to America. Their total investment into the United States economy will be more than $350 billion over the next five years,” he said. The US president also pointed to his administration’s elimination of what he called “burdensome regulations” and claimed that, since his inauguration, 22 regulations have been eliminated for each new rule. Moving to the topic of trade, the president reiterated his stance that he “always put America first – just like the leaders of other countries should put their country first also.” But he insisted that “America first does not mean America alone,” noting, “We support free trade, but it needs to be fair and it needs to be reciprocal because, in the end, unfair trade undermines us all.” Trump added: “The United

States will no longer turn a blind eye to unfair economic practices, including massive intellectual property theft, industrial subsidies and pervasive state-led planning.” Trump, who pulled the US out of the TransPacific Partnership (TPP), said that the United States is willing to negotiate bilateral trade agreements, adding: “This will include the countries in the TPP, which are very important.” The president repeated his familiar call to US allies to “invest in their own defenses and meet

their financial obligations,” adding: “Our common security requires everyone to contribute their fair share.” Trump also repeated familiar criticisms of the US immigration system, saying, “America is a cutting-edge economy, but our immigration system is stuck in the past.” He called for a “merit-based system of admissions that selects new arrivals based on their ability to contribute to our economy, to support themselves financially and to strengthen our country.” Fon Mathuros, Head of Media, World Economic Forum

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WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM 2018

AT DAVOS, GEOPOLITICS AND BUSINESS DANCE A WINDING WALTZ

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It's that other time of year again. The time when the world’s business and political elites gather at an Alpine resort in Davos, Switzerland, to compare notes on the challenges they face. The top risks under discussion this year, released in advance by the World Economic Forum, are cybersecurity and "a deterioration in the geopolitical situation." The first of these two risks, cybersecurity, represents merely the latest in a long line of threats that have emerged from technological development as states and private actors jockey for an edge over one another. But the second risk, geopolitical deterioration, has not been much of a focal point for several decades. And because geopolitics is the platform on which many other things rest, its deterioration is a threat that affects not only Davos attendees, but also the entire global population.

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THE WORLD'S WALTZ Business and geopolitics have been waltzing together for many centuries, taking it in turns to lead the dance. The modern corporation, for example, can trace its roots back to agreements struck between businessmen in the Eastern Mediterranean around the time of the Crusades. These early contracts were struck between a sedentary investor — who provided the capital — and a brave traveler — who accompanied the tradable goods on a dangerous voyage. But these incredibly basic corporations could function only within the bounds of their geopolitical environments. Friendly relations between Venice and the Muslim world, for example, allowed Venetian travelers to become the world's preeminent businessmen by selling eastern goods in Europe for high profits. At other times — most notably when geopolitics have been fragmented — business has led the way. The Hanseatic League, a group of cities ringing the Baltic and North seas that was almost entirely motivated by profit, arose during a time when Germany was a loose patchwork of cities and small states. To protect its investments, the league created a navy, which forced sovereign governments to take the group of merchants seriously. Later on,

businesses led nations into empire. The Dutch and British East India companies, created to be arms of their national governments, harnessed the motivations of private businesses while also furthering national interests — all without committing excessive resources. In the era since the end of World War II, favorable geopolitics have caused business to emerge supreme. After 1945, the world became divided by two great adversaries: the United States and the Soviet Union. Though the confrontation created great risks for business, the two titans ultimately proved willing to exchange jabs rather than go for the knockout blow. Business on the capitalist side of the Iron Curtain thrived, incorporating a quest for efficiency that led to technological advancements and wealth creation. The fall of the Soviet Union then saw the capitalist model spread, as former communist states and developing countries alike lowered trade barriers. Together, these trends created the world of multinational corporations that we know today. As the importance of national borders diminished, corporations took advantage of the friendlier business environment. The endless quest for efficiency has led companies to spread


their operations around the world, causing businesses to become the decision-makers that are courted by national governments. In a world where corporations can choose to allocate resources to wherever they deem to be the most favorable environment, political leaders looking to maximize jobs and wealth creation are forced to compete for corporate favor. This is essentially the story of Davos, which has come to represent the court of the business king where leaders must travel to be heard by the corporate elite. THE CHANGING RHYTHM But the times are changing, and yesterday's geopolitical certainties are falling away. Rather than highlighting asymmetric threats such as terrorism or security, the latest U.S. National Security Strategy released in December focused largely on China and Russia. And in January, U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to unveil the first hard measures designed to counter the perceived threat from Chinese trade. The measures are a symptom of the wider deterioration of the geopolitical environment, and could lead to an escalation between the two countries. Increased confrontation between states can often be bad for international business. Countries that are concentrating on each other are not competing for corporate attention. Worse, nations have the power to shape a corporations' surroundings. Unlike in Hanseatic times, national governments today largely hold the monopoly on violence, meaning they set the rules. A confrontation could lead to reestablished trade barriers between countries and make it more difficult for corporations to do business. Currently, the world is interconnected so that a new Cold War would force countries to

unwind their existing supply chains, costing companies a great deal of money in the process. And a conventional military conflict would have an even more disruptive effect by endangering physical capital and personnel, while also causing the wealth of customers and governments to be spent on the war effort rather than corporate products. War between major powers is highly unlikely, at least partially because of the disruptive effect it would have on the businesses countries value highly. In a hypothetical war, companies with large international footprints would be expected to pick sides, a choice that would be more difficult for some companies to make than for others. Many state-run companies — such as Saudi Aramco or China National Petroleum Corporation — would have obvious loyalties. Because resources are strategically important during wartime, one can imagine that publicly traded energy companies such as ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch/Shell and BP would likely be repurposed for explicitly national ends. But this would come with challenges. Multinational companies are not only globalized for efficiency, but for necessity as well. ExxonMobil, Shell and BP produce oil and natural gas wherever they are profitable, including in countries that the West could conceivably fight a war with. In addition, technology companies such as Apple Inc. are increasingly reliant on foreign production lines and even foreign markets. None of these supply chains can be revamped overnight. Nevertheless, the precedent of World War II showed that corporations can and will be brought under more direct state control during wartime. A major world war is not about to break out, but a deterioration of the geopolitical situation represents a negative development for the business leaders in Davos — or at least those not at defense companies. Created by very specific geopolitical circumstances, the status quo of the past 70 years has created an increasingly perfect climate for international business. Thus the business elite gathered in the Swiss mountains this week will be playing close attention to anything with the potential to disrupt the current world order. Listeners will be seeking to glean whatever insights they can about the future course of geopolitics, in the knowledge that things have plenty of room to deteriorate.

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TECHNOLOGY

FUJIFILM HOLDINGS AND XEROX ANNOUNCE AGREEMENT TO COMBINE FUJI XEROX JOINT VENTURE WITH XEROX

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FUJIFILM Holdings Corporation (Fujifilm) and Xerox Corporation have announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement to combine Xerox and their longstanding Fuji Xerox joint venture. The combined company will be a global leader in innovative print technologies and intelligent work solutions with annual revenues of 18 billion USD and leadership positions in key geographic regions.

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According to the companies involved, this proposed combination provides Xerox shareholders with significant cash at closing, as well as a substantial interest in the significantly enhanced combined company. Under the terms of the agreement, Xerox shareholders will receive a 2.5 billion USD special cash dividend, or approximately 9.80 USD per share1, funded from the combined company’s balance sheet, and own 49.9 percent of the combined company at closing. The cash dividend represents more than 30 percent of Xerox’s unaffected share price of 30.35 USD based on closing share price as of January 10, 2018. Fujifilm will own 50.1 percent of the combined company and provide important operational support and transformational leadership. The transaction has been unanimously approved by the Boards of Directors of both Fujifilm and Xerox. The combined company will be named Fuji Xerox and trade on the NYSE under the ticker XRX. The new Fuji Xerox will have dual headquarters in Norwalk, CT, U.S. and in Minato, Tokyo, Japan, with presence in over 180 countries. The combined company will go to market and maintain the iconic Xerox and Fuji Xerox brands within its respective operating regions. Shigetaka Komori, chairman and chief executive officer of Fujifilm, said, “Fujifilm and Xerox have fostered an exceptional partnership through our existing Fuji Xerox joint venture, and this transaction is a strategic evolution of our alliance. The Document Solutions business represents a significant part of Fujifilm’s portfolio, and the creation of the new Fuji Xerox allows us to more directly establish a leadership position in a fast-changing market. We believe Fujifilm’s track record of advancing technology in innovative imaging and information solutions – especially in inkjet, imaging, and AI areas – will be important components of the success of the new Fuji Xerox.”

Komori added, “I am confident that Fujifilm’s ability to drive change as well as its experience of successful reinvention will give a competitive edge to the new Fuji Xerox, delivering significant value creation to shareholders of both the new Fuji Xerox and Fujifilm. We are delighted to welcome Xerox and its employees to the Fujifilm family and look forward to combining our strengths towards jointly shaping the future of our industry.” Jeff Jacobson, chief executive officer of Xerox, said, “The proposed combination has compelling industrial logic and will unlock significant growth and productivity opportunities for the combined company, while delivering substantial value to Xerox shareholders. The new Fuji Xerox will be better positioned to compete in today’s environment with truly global scale, increased presence in fast-growing markets, and innovation capabilities to effectively meet our customers’ rapidly-evolving demands. In addition, the combined company’s strong financial profile will enable investments that support continued market leadership, while also providing opportunities for increasing capital returns over time.” Robert J. Keegan, chairman of Xerox’s Board of Directors, said, “Today’s announcement follows a comprehensive review of our strategic and financial alternatives led by Xerox’s independent directors that began after the separation of Conduent in 2016. Upon careful consideration of all alternatives available to the company, the Board of Directors concluded that this combination is clearly the best path to create value for our shareholders. An attractive, certain cash dividend, together with participation in the future success of the combined company, presents a compelling value equation for Xerox shareholders. We are excited to strengthen our longstanding relationship with Fujifilm as we enter the next phase of Xerox’s transformation journey.”


INVESTMENT

7 BEST INVESTMENT SOLUTIONS FOR YOUR CAPITAL Capital investment is something that has been on everyone's mind since forever. Everyone wants to make extra money apart from their regular income. This is when investing their money in something, comes to their mind with a big question "What are the best investment options? However, previously, investment options for a lot of people meant to keep their money in saving accounts or to simply buy a house and rent it out. Today, in the modern age, people are all about investing their money in something big. To invest in something big, you need to make sure that you know each and everything about it. Following are some safest investment options that will help you to make wise decisions about your money. 1. INVEST YOUR CAPITAL IN MUTUAL FUNDS: While you were looking for some investment solutions, you might have come across Mutual Funds. For people who are completely new to this investment solution first need to know "What is a Mutual Fund?" Mutual Fund is usually referred as a pool of investment made by different investors who aim to either make some extra money or to keep their money safe. The purpose of this pool (collection of money from different investors) is to invest in different securities so that the investors can easily diversify their savings without facing a lot of risk. These funds are operated and managed by the money managers. Mutual Fund is one of the easiest investment solutions, you just need to find top performing mutual fund and start investing with them. This is the reason a lot of people prefer to invest in mutual funds without digging about the pros and cons. ADVANTAGES OF MUTUAL FUNDS: ✔ Professional Management: There are a lot of reasons people prefer to choose mutual funds as their investment solutions. Mutual fund is a professional management of the investor's money.

✔ Expert Management with Low Risk: One of the main reasons people prefer to go for the investment solutions because they do not have enough expertise or time when it comes to managing their portfolio. Mutual fund is a professional management of their money without putting it at a lot of risk. ✔ Diversification of Investment: The fear of losing their money always overpower the idea of gaining something, which is why people are not a huge fan of putting all eggs in same basket. The mutual fund is an easy way to go for the diversity and risk of not losing everything. ✔ Mutual Funds' Investments Spread Out Risk: When you are investing in a pool and there are several other investors involved in it, the risk is usually evenly spread out. Mutual funds allow you to invest your heart's desired money so that the loss is actually minimized. DISADVANTAGES OF MUTUAL FUNDS: ✖ No Access to Portfolio: However, despite being easy to buy and offering diversity to the investors, there are some cons that come with mutual funds. Investing in the mutual funds is usually operated by the managers which mean that you do not get a lot of say in it. This can be a drawback as you do not get to decide a lot about your invested money. ✖ Costs and Fees: Moreover, the biggest red flag that comes with the mutual funds is its cost. The sole reason of the mutual funds is not to make your life easy. All the funds are there to make profit for. When it comes to mutual fund industry, it is best known for mastering the skills

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of burying the cost under different layers. They use tact and highly professional language which is beyond the understanding of the layman to hide the high cost of the mutual funds. The costs are extremely complicated and are completely a pain to pay.

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2. INVEST YOUR CAPITAL IN STOCKS: Stocks commonly known as "assets" and are also the most popular type of investment solutions among investors. Stocks are usually a hit and miss type of thing as an investor you need to find best stocks to invest in. For new investors it might be the question that how to invest in the stock market? Stocks are available in different forms, you can invest in the share of a company that may end up bringing a high profit or loss to you. Following are several advantages and disadvantages of investing in stock market. ADVANTAGES OF INVESTING IN STOCKS: ✔ No Hidden Charges: Investing in stock is more like an ideal investment for a lot of people. Stocks usually are bought using cash which means there are hardly any hidden charges or sugar coated extra fees leached to them. ✔ Easy to Buy & Sell: The buying and selling procedure of the stock is very easy as compared to any other investment options. The investor has the option of buying or selling his stock. Whenever investor feels like the price of the stock has increased, he is free to sell them. DISADVANTAGES OF INVESTING IN STOCKS: ✖ Higher Risk: Despite having advantages, there are a lot of things that you need to bring in consideration when it comes to buying stocks. There are different types of risk associated with investing in stocks. The biggest risk is that the prices are always fluctuating. There is no obvious pattern when it comes to prices of the stock so the risk of losing your money is always high. ✖ Poor Decisions Could Cost to Loss of Entire Capital: People usually end up making bad decision when they see a stock price going down, as they hope it will be high again after sometime. However, when the prices instead of increasing continue to go down, investors realize they have made a poor decision but by then it is way too late.

✖ Lack of Control over Companies Decisions: The lack of control is also a very important that everyone should keep in mind. When you buy stocks of a company, you have no say in the decision or strategy making of the company. The company might make poor decisions that may cause it go in loss which means the price of your stocks will go down eventually. The lack of control can be very frustrating and nerve racking for the investors. 3. INVEST YOUR CAPITAL IN GOLD: One of the oldest investment solutions that have been preferred by the investors is gold. Yes, investors from all around the globe thinks that there is no better way of keeping their money safe than buying gold. Investors invest in

different ways when it comes to gold. Some prefer to buy jewels that they can use in their life. In this way, their money is safe with them and they are also bringing it in use. On other hand, there are also some investors who prefer to buy gold in solid form i.e. as gold coins or gold bricks, as in this way they can have the pure form of gold. As every coin has two sides gold investment also has its own advantages and disadvantages as follow: ADVANTAGES OF INVESTING IN GOLD: ✔ Price is Less Volatile Compared to Other Assets: There is more than one reason why people prefer to go with gold as compare to other investment solutions. The gold market has the record of staying high for a long period of time. Be it any country of the world, the gold markets touches the peak and continues to stay there for a long period of time which is why


people consider it to be the best way of preserving their wealth. ✔ Globally Accepted: Gold is acceptable all over the world. Moreover, there is certainly no different type of gold in different parts of the world which mean you can trade it regardless of your locations. A lot of people use this strategy and trade their gold for different currencies especially when they see their currency going down. You can simply keep the gold with you and sell it whenever you get perfect rates for it. DISADVANTAGES OF INVESTING IN GOLD: ✖ Not Regular Profit: However, investing in gold is not always as beneficial as you think it is. People usually with lack of knowledge and invest in gold but sooner or later they realize that investing in gold isn't bringing much advantage to them. The sole reason behind making any type of investment is to earn some benefit from it. However, buying gold and keeping it with you isn't going to bring any benefit at all, not unless you decide to sell it. There is no interest or income you are getting out of that gold. ✖ Commissions: Moreover, If you are investing in gold by buying in form of jewels then you might end up paying a lot of commission to the seller in the name of the making of the jewellery. ✖ Non-Predictable Gold Market: Further more, if you check the history of the gold and its prices, you will realize that despite the fact that the prices of gold stays high for a long period of time, there are times when the prices out of nowhere starts dropping which is not at all a good thing for the investor. 4. INVEST YOUR CAPITAL IN HEDGE FUNDS: Another investment solution that sounds very appealing to investors all over the world is the hedge funds. So, "What is a Hedge Funds?". Hedge funds are similar to mutual funds in some ways. In mutual funds, the investors pool in their personal money for the sake of investment. However, in the hedge funds, the investors are not any random layman. In Hedge Fund industry, most hedge funds only accept amounts from 1 Million or much more as a minimum investment and they are regulated in exotic destinations or not regulated at all. The investors are the sophisticated ones like individuals who own significant assets and institutions. The money invested is usually borrowed from different sources. The borrowed money can be invested in different types of securities. Similar to any other investment solution, there are some

advantages and disadvantages that come with investing in the hedge funds. ADVANTAGES OF INVESTING IN HEDGE FUNDS: ✔ Aggressive Strategies to Get Higher Returns: One of the biggest advantages of investing in the hedge funds is that the investors get to use aggressive strategies to get higher returns. Hedge fund strategies are highly aggressive, the stronger the investors are more aggressive strategies they can use. The aggressive strategies if pull out as planned, can bring in huge return which is something every investor wants. ✔ Way to Invest Huge Capitals: The reason hedge funds is perfect for the large institutes or individuals who own assets is that this type of investment is all about going big. The investors do not hesitate from investing a big amount of money and using their aggressive strategies they can easily get their hands on the huge gains. DISADVANTAGES OF INVESTING IN HEDGE FUNDS: ✖ Not for Everyone: The huge investment and bigger gains might sound to be very interesting to you. However, if you pay more attention, you will realize it is not for everyone. Yes, the hedge fund investment is for the bigger fish. The main idea of the hedge funds is to bring in bigger investors. People who aim to go with the small investment are not welcomed to this type of investment solution. ✖ Large Management Fees: The cost of investing in the hedge funds is very high which is why not everyone can choose this investment solution for his money. Hedge Fund Managers or Hedge Fund Companies charges larger management fees compare to Mutual Funds. 5. INVEST YOUR CAPITAL IN BONDS: Bonds are one of the most favourite types of investment solutions for the investors till date. Different business as well as government issues certain bonds in order to raise some funds from the investors who buy them. There are different types of bonds that an investor can go for. Some bonds offer regular interest to the investors while some promises principal back once the bond is matured. It is completely up-to the investor to decide which type of bond he wants to invest in. Whether it's Government Bonds or Corporate Bonds both have their own advantages or disadvantages as follow: ADVANTAGES OF INVESTING IN BONDS: ✔ Easy to Buy: The bonds are the easiest

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ways of putting your money in some investment. Firstly, they are easily available. The investor do not have to go through a lot of hassle in order to get his hands on his desired bonds, be it corporate one or the one issues by the government of his/her country. If you are going for the corporate bonds then you are signing up for the monthly benefits as per the policy of the corporate. There are some government bonds that work more or less in similar ways; however most of them promise principal back after the bonds are matured. ✔ No Extra Fee: Secondly, the bonds can be directly bought from the broker to whom you pay in cash. Buying directly from the broker is the best way of avoiding extra fees or some unwanted hidden charges. ✔ Investment Suitable for Any Age Group: Investing in the bond is widely said to be the best thing for the people who have retired from work and cannot afford in any way to lose their savings. Bonds allow them to keep their money safe. If you are young investor and are looking for some long run benefits, then the maturity bonds can be the best investment option for you to go with.

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DISADVANTAGES OF INVESTING IN BONDS: ✖ Highly Volatile: The bonds do not have all the positives attached to them. Despite being high on demand, there are few negatives that are also part of the bonds. The prices of the bonds are always fluctuating. The prices usually rise when there is a fall in the interest rates and vice versa. The corporate bonds are the most fluctuating one. ✖ No Control over Company Policies: You can never predict when their will be change in the policy of the business that will directly or indirectly affect the bonds issued by them. A lot of people go for the bonds as they plan to reinvest them. However, there are a lot of cases in which the investors do not get the perfect deal for reinvesting their bonds and they have to eventually settle for something less. ✖ Negative Interest Rate: Moreover, the exchange rate of the bonds is not as good as the investors expect it to be. Probably the worst

thing on bonds is that they lose absolute value over time because most of the (government) bonds are traded with negative interest. If you want to invest in a government bond from a high quality issuer you have to accept to lose value, for example if you buy a bond for 100 CHF with a negative interest of 0.2% you get back 99.8 CHF and the inflation of 1% makes the real buying power of your money after one year 98.8 CHF. That means you can be sure that you lose your money if you invest in low risk bonds. If you invest in high risks (or so called junk bonds) you can get 5% or more interest but you have to accept a big risk associated with these bonds from smaller companies. Academic research have found that stocks and dividend payments currently deliver a better return to risk profile then junk bonds. 6. INVEST YOUR CAPITAL IN REAL ESTATE: So you wanted to put your saving to some use and decided to go for investing it. Out of all the investment solutions, buying the Real Estate seemed to be the wisest option to go with.

Investing in Real Estate is something people have been doing since forever. People usually buy a house or apartment and rent it out so that they can get regular income. Sometimes Real Estate investment benefits you while sometimes not, following are some of the advantages and disadvantages of investing in Real Estate. ADVANTAGES OF INVESTING IN REAL ESTATE: ✔ Shelter and Security for Future: There are a lot of reasons real estate is considered to be one of the best old school investment solutions. Buying a house is a way of securing your money and future. People think for the long term benefits i.e. during their middle age the house will help them financially with the rent and during their old time they can actually live in it. ✔ Generates Cash Flow: There are a lot of


people who buy a house and rent out its basement. This is the cleverest way of earning from your house while you are living in it. Buying real estate brings them the sense of security as the prices of do no fluctuate as compared to other investment solutions. They can sell their property whenever they feel like investing in something bigger. The bigger investors instead of buying a house prefer to buy some commercial property that they can later rent out. The rent of the commercial property is higher as compared to residence real estate. DISADVANTAGES OF INVESTING IN REAL ESTATE ✖ High Maintenance Cost: Buying a property and then renting it out might sound to be extremely easy. However, if you look in the long run, it is not as easy as it seems to be. You bought a house with the idea of renting it. However, did you think about the maintenance of the house? Yes, the maintenance of the house is on the house owner not on people who are on rent in it. The maintenance cost of the house is very high. At times, you end up paying much more than you are actually earning from that house. ✖ Property Taxes: Taxation is also one of the important things that you should keep in mind. If you are going for the commercial property, you need to remember that the tax for the commercial property is high as compared to residential property. ✖ Less Liquidity: Moreover, selling real estate is pretty difficult thing to do. Most of the times, it is extremely difficult to find the buyer who is ready to pay your desired amount. At times, you have to hire a real estate agent to help you sell your house. Hiring real estate agent means that you will have to him commission. Further, the prices of real estate is usually intact, however the matter of fact is there is usually no buyer at all. ✖ Risk Associated with Property: From a risk point of you buying a house puts a lot of your money into a single point (the place where the house is located) and many factors out of your control. For example if some big factories in the area close down people might move away and it will get harder to rent away your house, special risk like flood or weather risk can destroy your investment, it is possible that you do not get your money. ✖ Low Average Returns: Compare the average return of a house of 4-5% with the average stock market return of 7-8% and find that a long term stock market investment is

probably the better solution. 7. OUR RECOMMENDATION: INVEST YOUR CAPITAL IN PASSIVE INVESTMENT PORTFOLIO: The "Holy Grail" reason behind making any type of investment is to earn profit from it. A lot of investors misunderstand this reason and focuses on short term advantages. However, a wise investor will always keep his focus on the long term advantages. This is the reason that today in modern world, Passive investment is known as the best investment solutions. Yes, passive investment focuses not only on short term benefits but also on the long term benefits. Passive investment basically maximizes the returns over long period of time by keeping amount of investing minimum. It aims to avoid all types of extra fees that usually always present with other investment solutions. People who are investing in passive investments should know that there are no quick gains in it. ADVANTAGES OF PASSIVE INVESTMENT ✔ Minimal Risk: The biggest advantage of investing in the passive investment portfolio is that it has nothing to do with the prices of gold and other commodities in the market. You do not have to wake up to the bad news that the prices of gold went down and now your investment is at risk. Furthermore, you do not have to waste your time trying to evaluating your stocks based on the company reports. There are no hard decisions that you need to make which you will later regret. Moreover, you also do not need to have a lot of funds sitting in your portfolio. You can simply get started with two funds. ✔ Low Expenses: One of the many reasons why people prefer to go with passive investment is because there low expense fees and ratios. The passive investments are to simply replicate performance of index that they are actually tracking. The turnover is low which means that there will be lower trading costs as well as the management expenses are also minimal. ✔ Transparency - Key to Better Decisions: Transparency is also a key advantage that anyone can hardly ever ignore. Passive investment lets the investor know what funds are actually holding the entire time. The transparency is the reason that passive investment is considered to be high predictable. The predictability allows the investors to make better decisions which will further lead him to benefits in the long run as long run advantages is what passive investment is all about in the end.

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IT & C

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5 POWERFUL TOOLS YOUR WEBSITE SHOULD HAVE

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Have you snooped around top advisors’ websites recently to see what they have in common? In addition to having excellent branding and site design, top performing websites include several key features that help them attract and convert more qualified prospects. In my work with hundreds of top advisors, I’ve identified five key features of topperforming advisor websites. Does your website have all five? 1. A SAMPLE FINANCIAL PLAN Most advisors forget that at the end of the day, the product they’re selling is financial planning. It makes sense that potential clients are interested in seeing what they’re considering purchasing from your firm. Yet very few advisors feature a sample financial plan on their website. To feature your sample financial plan on your website, you’ll want to create a page explaining your process and what’s included, along with a PDF of your sample plan available for download. Take a look at this excellent example for inspiration. Then, take it a step further and add a button to your home page directing folks to see a sample plan. Once you add your sample plan to your home page, it will become one of the most visited pages on your website. 2. A LEAD CAPTURE FORM You may not know it, but your site likely gets traffic from tens or even hundreds of prospects each month. The problem is that most of these leads go cold before they ever make contact with you. To convert more of them into clients, it’s critical to have a lead capture form on your website. A lead capture form is a tool that encourages prospects to enter their email address to join your newsletter, download a report, or watch a video. Here’s a good example of a site with two effective lead capture tools. To make your lead capture form even stronger, offer a highly valuable report to your prospects. If you work with employees of a specific employer, a report on how to maximize their benefits is relevant and effective. If you work with people in a certain industry, an industry report like this one will work wonders. 3. A CALENDAR SCHEDULER If a referral is browsing your website at 8 p.m., do you make it easy for them to take the

next step while they’re feeling a sense of urgency? Most advisors don’t. Adding a calendar scheduler to your site allows prospects to take the next step immediately at any time of the day or night. An added bonus is that a calendar scheduler will save you time scheduling phone calls and appointments with existing clients. Once you have your online calendar scheduler set up, link to it at the end of each blog post to encourage prospects to make an appointment. Here’s an example using my favorite scheduler, Calendly. You can even add a pop-up scheduler, take a look at the bottom right corner of my website. Some advisors feature several “Schedule an Appointment” buttons throughout their home page to get prospects to make an appointment while their interest is piqued. 4. A CUSTOM VIDEO When people are evaluating a financial advisor, research shows that they are trying to decide if they like and trust the advisor. A custom video of you on your site is critical to helping them understand your story and get to know you. Top advisors feature a video of themselves prominently on their website’s homepage. Be sure the video features you speaking to the camera. Tell your story and what motivates you to connect with potential clients. 5. SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION The best website in the world can’t perform well if people aren’t finding you easily online. What’s the difference between good and bad search engine optimization (SEO)? With bad SEO, your website won’t come up in the top three search results for the keywords you’d like to target (for example financial advisor + your city). With good SEO, not only will you come up in the top three search results for your chosen keywords, but you’ll be featured in the sidebar of the search results with photos, contact info and a map. Establishing a solid SEO foundation doesn’t have to be too expensive or time consuming. By properly registering your business with search engines and local websites like the Chamber of Commerce and the Better Business Bureau, you can get 90% of the benefit of SEO for a low, onetime investment.


3 FINANCIAL ADVISOR WEBSITE DESIGN ESSENTIALS As time proceeds apace, so does technology. Mail gave way to the telephone and the telephone gave way to the internet, which is why established marketing practices like direct mail and cold-calling aren’t as effective as they once were, and why a website has become the No. 1 marketing tool. While technology is so often about breaking down social barriers, it sometimes creates them, and as the internet is now the first stop for consumers, your website is the newest obstacle

to come between you and your clients. Thankfully, the key to navigating around it, turning it from a roadblock to an active agent working for your firm, is asking these three simple questions. 1. IS YOUR SITE CURRENT? Start with the basic information on your site— is it still relevant? Are phone and fax numbers, email and physical addresses still applicable? Do you have any new or departed staff that should be added or removed? Has anything else about your company changed since you last checked in, any recent services that need mentioning or products you’re no longer offering? If you’ve started using social media, have you linked your

accounts to your website so that it becomes the central hub of your online presence? What’s the year of your website’s copyright? These bits of information are essential for clients to learn who you are, how to connect with you, and whether you’re even still in business. 2. HOW DOES IT LOOK? If you were a prospective client, would you find it appealing and professional or off-putting and unprofessional? It’s time to conduct an honest visual assessment of your website. If you’re a little too invested to be objective, crowdsource for opinions—ask a friend or colleague. Or, even better yet, since your website is there to help attract prospects, ask a client what their first impression was. Your website may be full of useful (up-to-date!) information, but if it’s hard to look at, no one will stick around long enough to find out. 3. WHAT DOES IT SAY? Because most of us are not reading as editors, we don’t always know why it is we won’t trust a company from its online presence, we just know that we don’t. Frequently this is because the information we are looking for isn’t being conveyed clearly, if at all. This goes beyond spelling and grammar—what you are saying is just as important as how well you are saying it. Well-researched, thoughtful, engaging written content that seeks to inform rather than obfuscate shows not only that you are an expert in your field, but that you recognize the importance of establishing yourself as such.

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special section

L

U X U R Y

&

LIFESTYLE

TOP BRAND

pages 40 - 59

TIME SQUARED: HERMÈS RE-INTRODUCES THE CARRÉ H TIMEPIECE One of the most high-profile luxury maisons to join the SIHH for the first time in 2018, Hermès chose to highlight not an unexpected complication, like 2015’s Slim d’Hermès Perpetual Calendar, but a revamped version of a modernist design-oriented piece first unveiled in 2010, the square-cased Hermès Carré H. Designed by French architect and industrial designer Marc Berthier, the Carré H (carré is French for “square;” three guesses what the “H” stands for) was nicknamed “the architect’s watch” for its right angles and geometrical shapes. For the new model, Hermès enlarged the case by a few millimeters, bringing it from 36.5 mm x 36.5 mm to 38 mm x 38 mm. The edges of the case, made of polished and micro-bead-blasted 316L stainless steel (as opposed to the original’s titanium), have been softened, with a curved profile and a cylindrical anti-glare-treated sapphire crystal over the dial. The dial — in dark gray or black — offers even more aesthetic complexity than that on the 2010 version, with an opaline center enhanced with right-angled guilloché, a finely grained chapter ring, and an outer rim with either an opaline or sunburst finish. The distinctive, faceted, double-digit Arabic numerals are in an exclusive font and coated with SuperLumiNova, as are the rhodium-plated hour and minute hands. The central seconds hand, with its curved, sweeping counterweight, is either yellow (on the gray-dialed model) or red (on the black-dialed watch). Inside the case, and visible behind a sapphire pane in the back, beats a proprietary movement, Hermès’s self-winding Caliber H1912, replacing the outsourced GirardPerregaux GP3200 used in the 2010 model. This Swiss-made caliber, oscillating at 28,800 vph, is made up of 193 components, including 28 jewels, and holds a 50-hour power reserve. Haute horlogerie decorations abound, including circular graining and snailing on the mainplate and a satin-brushed rotor with a signature Hermès “H” motif. As one would expect from one of the world’s most revered purveyors of fine leathers, the straps are in natural or black Barenia calfksin, and fasten to the wrist with a pin buckle made of the same micro-bead-blasted steel as the case. The new Hermes Carré H will be priced at $7,725. Below, check out a wrist shot of the black-dialed Carré H from SIHH 2018.


COME SLITHER: CHRISTOPHE CLARET INTRODUCES THE MAMBA MAESTRO Christophe Claret showed off its latest limited-edition timepiece inspired by one of the world’s most venomous snakes. In the Maestro Mamba, the sinuous body of a snake slithers around the open movement, over-and-under the hours and minutes hand, to the side of the MEMO function, and next to the balance spring. As you can see, the architecture of the Maestro makes perfect sense for a serpent to make its home. The strap is authentic green Mamba skin, sourced from the African jungle, while the jewels are taken from the world’s largest tsavorite mine in Mozambique, where the owner of the mine had to hunt Mambas off his property. The Maestro originally made its debut in 2017, where it was noted for its specific MEMO complication and seven-day power reserve. Located at 3 and 4 o’clock, the MEMO complication functions as a sort of reminder of a single daily task. Whether it’s as simple as picking up the dry cleaning or more important, like submitting an invoice, the MEMO capability places the simplicity of a

notification reminder on your smartphone onto your wrist. The date is located at 5 o’clock and it uses two cones — one for the tens on the upper cone and a second for the units — to display each day. The 42-mm watch comes in two black PVD-treated titanium versions fitted with either green Mamba or orange Pantherophis — a non-venomous snake found in North and Central America — snakeskin straps. Both sets are limited to 28 total pieces and will sell for CHF 96,000.

DOUBLED TIME: VAN CLEEF & ARPELS MIDNIGHT HEURE D’ICI & HEURE D’AILLEURS As per its usual SIHH tradition, Van Cleef & Arpels rolled out an array of notable timepieces for ladies this year, including an amazing astronomical complication that we will explore in depth in the coming weeks. Not to be overlooked, however, was the one new gentlemen’s watch that the master jeweler unveiled — the Midnight Heure d’Ici & Heure d’Ailleurs, a clever new take on the classical GMT watch. The watch — whose name en français literally means “Time Here and Time Elsewhere” — comes in a 42-mm-diameter case made of rose gold that houses a self-winding dual-time movement developed exclusively for Van Cleef & Arpels in a partnership with the movement specialists at Agenhor (Atelier Genevois d’Horlogerie). It combines a jumping hour — two of them, actually, representing two time zones — with a retrograde minutes hand. The “Heure d’Ici,” or reference time, is indicated in a window at the top of the dial at 11 o’clock, while the “Heure d’Ailleurs,” or second time zone, is displayed in the lower aperture at 5 o’clock. These hours digits jump simultaneously

when the retrograde minutes hand hits 60 on the graduated scale thanks to a sector that synchronizes both hour disks with the hand. At the start of each hour, of course, the minutes hand will snap back to its zero position to begin counting down the next hour. The generously proportioned dial, framed by a thin rose-gold bezel, is made of black galvanic brass and catches the eye with its stamped, radiating sunburst motif. The applied numerals, indices, and frames around the jumpinghour windows are made of the same rose gold as the case. The price is $28,300.

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LUXURY & LIFESTYLE - TOP BRAND

FACES OF TIME: 7 WATCHES WITH UNUSUAL TIME DISPLAYS

Many watches show “only” the time. But there’s plenty of latitude for creativity, as we can see on display in this selection of eight unconventionally designed timepieces from eight innovative watch brands. 1. ANDERSEN GENÈVE MONTRE À TACT “Tactful” watches enable their wearers to discreetly check the time, e.g., while in a theater or at a business meeting, without having to turn their wrists. That’s why Svend Andersen

pilots’ watches indicates the time only in the upper half of the dial. Disks rotate below a motionless hand to show the hours and minutes. The disk module can be installed atop a conventional basic caliber. (PVD-coated stainless steel, 46 x 46 mm, ETA 2892, automatic, $6,000) 3. BOTTA-DESIGN UNO-24 PLUS Like Breitling’s model (below), the Uno-24Plus from Botta-Design in Taunus, Germany, likewise has a 24-hour indicator. As a singlehanded watch, its concept is even more

provides a second time display between the lower pair of lugs of the Andersen Genève Montre à Tact. The tactful indicator runs synchronously with the large display on the dial. Andersen’s watches are set via an inset wheel in the back of the case. (White and rose gold, 42 mm, modified historical Adolph Schild caliber, automatic, around 64,000 euros)

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2. BELL & ROSS BR01-92 TURN COORDINATOR Emulating the turn-and-bank indicator in the cockpit of an aircraft, the Bell & Ross brand of

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extraordinary – and its time display is more difficult to read. Incidentally, this brand’s founder, Klaus Botta, established the historical single-handed concept among modern wristwatches in the 1980s. (Stainless steel, 45 mm, Ronda 515.24H, quartz, 548 euros) 4. BREITLING AVENGER HURRICANE A 24-hour indicator, like the one in this piece, the Avenger Hurricane, is especially helpful for pilots who use coordinated universal time (UTC). Alongside its unusual time display, this 50-mmdiameter Breitling behemoth also boasts an extremely lightweight yet sturdy case made of “Breitlight” and a chronometer-certified


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6. HUBLOT MP05 LAFERRARI While Bell & Ross relies on turning disks, Hublot deploys rotating drums: The MP05 LaFerrari combines the unconventional indicator with a vertical tourbillon and 11 vertically aligned barrels

movement with a 70-hour power reserve. (Polymer composite material, 50 mm, manufacture Caliber B12, automatic, $8,390) 5. CHRISTOPHE CLARET X-TREM-1 Under his own brand name, Christophe Claret offers an “extreme watch” in the truest sense of the phrase. Available only in damascene steel, the X-Trem-1 has two spherules that seem to float weightlessly in their tubes alongside the minutes and hour scales. The trick: The metal balls follow magnets, which are raised and lowered along the

edges of the movement. (Damascene steel and rose gold, 40.8 x 56.8 mm, manufacture Caliber FLY11, hand-wound, 8 pieces, $308,000)

for 50 days (yes: days, not hours!) of power reserve. A battery-powered screwdriver is used to wind this marathon runner. The newest version is made of sapphire. (Sapphire, 29.5 mm x 45.8 mm, manufacture Caliber LaFerrari, hand-wound, 20 pieces, $575,000) 7. MEISTERSINGER SALTHORA META MeisterSinger ranks among the best-known brands for single-handed watches. Unlike most of this label’s timepieces, which feature a lone hour hand that turns its circles above the dial and indicates the minutes with less than to-the-minute legibility, the Salthora Meta combines a conventional minutes hand and a jumping digital hour in a window at the 12. (Stainless steel, 43 mm, Sellita SW 200 with module from Synergies Horlogères, automatic, $3,675)


LUXURY & LIFESTYLE - TOP BRAND

JAQUET DROZ INTRODUCES NEW GRANDE SECONDE MOON IN BLACK ENAMEL Jaquet Droz added a moon-phase complication to its growing collection of Grande Seconde timepieces at last year’s Baselworld. As we await the revelation of the brand’s full array of new products at Baselworld 2018 in March, Jaquet Droz has offered us a glimpse of the latest version of the Grand Seconde Moon, now fronted by a handsome black enamel dial. Like its predecessors, the Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Moon Black Enamel features on its double-level grand feu enamel dial an astronomical moon-phase indicator that requires adjustment only once every 122 years and 46 days. Jaquet Droz’s specially developed “mechanism 135,” which drives the moon-phase indication, has a carefully studied gear ratio that makes it much more precise than the 59-toothed mechanism in a traditional moon-phase, which accumulates an error of one day in approximately two years, seven months, and 20 days. The moon-phase disk, centered inside a satin-finished gold ring for the date display and a 60-second scale for the running seconds, is made of black onyx, with tiny gold stars and a realistic-looking moon made of 18k rose gold that rotates clockwise in synch with the actual moon’s lunar cycles. The double-level structure of the dial aids in legibility, while a corrector positioned in the

side of the case at 8 o’clock — operated by a stylus that is included with each watch — makes adjustments of the moon-phase easy. The upper subdial, the other element of the Swiss brand’s hallmark figure eight dial, displays the hours and minutes with gold hands on Roman numerals. Inside the watch’s 18k rose gold case, measuring 43 mm in diameter, is a selfwinding movement, Caliber 266QL03, with 30 jewels, 68 hours of power reserve stored in a double mainspring barrel, a balance spring and pallet horns made of friction-resistant silicon, and a solid gold oscillating weight — all in plain view behind a sapphire caseback. The watch comes on a rolled-edge hand-stitched black alligator strap with an ardillon buckle made of 18k rose gold. The price is expected to be announced at the watch’s official debut during Baselworld 2018.

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THE CALYPSO: E.C.ANDERSSON’S FIRST TRUE HIGH-END WATCH

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E.C.Andersson Watch Co. is back with its most meticulously made watch yet, a true high-end watch to carry the brand into a new segment. The E.C.Andersson Calypso is completely custom-designed in Gothenburg and equipped with the most reliable Swiss automatic movement in its segment. Mounted on a tailor-made calf leather strap with a custom-made buckle, the watch’s sandblasted case has polished bevels that harmoniously swirl around the edges from lug to lug, along with unique modern indices on a radial gradient dial in a semi-gloss, ocean blue finish, nesting securely under the specially crafted “Boshulän” arrow hands. The three-tone, one-of-a-kind rotor, powering a Swiss ETA 2824-2 movement, is displayed proudly thru the sapphire crystal caseback. In fact, so confident is E.C.Andersson in the Calypso’s abilities that it set up a Performance Center just to prove the reliability of each individual watch.


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GREUBEL FORSEY ART PIECE 2 EDITION 2 The first Art Piece watches by Greubel Forsey contained a tiny sculpture, small enough to fit in the eye of a needle, and a magnifying sysem so that you could see it. In the new Art Piece 2 Edition 2, Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey say, actually it’s the watch that is a work of art. I suppose that they are entitled to their opinion, but personally I think that there is a difference between contemporary art concepts and those present in Art Piece 2 Edition 2.

A tourbillon is a kinetic sculputre, say Greubel Forsey, above all when it is as complex as this one, with two cages with different rotation speeds. And the concept of time is different to that on normal watches. To read the time, you press a pusher, and a metallized synthetic sapphire shutter opens to reveal hours and minutes shown on discs. Much more space is dedicated to the power reserve indication, with giant numerals for the 72-hour scale. The needle showing the power reserve is on the same pivot as that of the hour and minute discs, and it remains visible at all times. The important thing, say Robert and Stephen, is not the time, but the time remaining. This is a popular theme in watchmaking, as shown by the many watches on the skull theme (with one piece by Mr. Jones Watches with “Remember- you will die” written by the hour and minute hands). In my opinion, giving metaphysical significance to a power reserve indicator and saying that it is art is pushing it a bit.

MOVEMENT WITH 412 PARTS The watch is large, with a white gold case 44 mm in diameter and over 16 mm thick (water resistance 3 atm, 30 metres). The sapphire caseback provides another view of the tourbillon, with the founders’ signature in relief on the mainplate. The movement has 412 parts; the tourbillon assembly alone comprises 130 components, with the two cages weighing just 1.13 grams. Greubel Forsey call this a “Millésimé” edition, so that just a few watches will be made every year. Last year, five art pieces were produced. Art Piece 2 Edition 2 costs 490,000 Swiss francs. It seems to be an approach that works: the single watch made as part of their “Naissance d’un montre” project – in which a talented watchmaker was chosen as a recipient for traditional watch-making knowledge and built a single piece over the course of nine years – was sold at Christies for $1,450,000.

INTRODUCING THE GREUBEL FORSEY GMT EARTH 1732

Greubel Forsey's GMT watch may have a short name, but it's one of the most complicated watches that they make. The watch shows the time in two time zones; there's a world time disk on the back which takes into account Daylight Saving Time in the time zones where it's observed, and most spectacularly, there's a 3D model of the Earth which rotates once every 24 hours. The watch has been offered in several metals and dial treatments heretofore, but the newest version is by far the most visually elaborate. The dial now has a multi-level sapphire chapter ring, and the case has been decorated with Greubel Forsey's signature "statement of purpose" engraving. Greubel Forsey watches aren't really like those from any other brand; the combination of very extroverted aesthetics, extremely theoretically and technically sophisticated watchmaking, and one of the most exacting approaches to traditional hand-finishing techniques. Diameter: 45.50mm / Thickness: 16.18mm / Case Material: White gold / Strap/Bracelet: Black rubber or black alligator with white gold folding clasp / Functions: Hours, minutes, GMT, world time disk, 24hour rotating globe. Price: CHF 610,000 / Availability: TBD

Limited Edition: 33 pieces


How would you define a successful corporate event? Opinions are diverse, but you will agree that a business conference can be more than just a meeting in a dull room, in a hotel that is badly ventilated or lacking natural light, with stale pastries and filter coffee in plastic cups. Similarly, a corporate party can be much more than a drinking bash with work colleagues down the pub in the old town.

On demand, we put in place all necessary technical tools for corporate gatherings and business presentations, training sessions, and press events in carefully selected locations, approved by the customer. For corporate parties, we provide and ensure security and a cheerful environment for hundreds of people, we heat up the party atmosphere with entertainers, competitions, dancing, live music, ambiance, food and drinks for all tastes.

Casa Anke has made a strong debut in the business events segment, and we are proud with the corporate events that we have organized so far. An account manager and a dedicated project team are assigned to every customer, who receives assistance in building a sustainable budget and choosing each detail that is going to contribute to a successful corporate event and to projecting an excellent image for the company they represent.

Defining a budget and staying within its boundaries are essential elements for any entrepreneur. Therefore, at Casa Anke you benefit from transparency, efficiently structured and reasonably priced services, attention to your needs and best results. We achieve those targets because we are so much more than just one of your suppliers; we are your partners and friends, whom you are always going to turn to for corporate events from now on.


BULGARI - SERPENTI INCANTATI TOURBILLON LUMIÈRE SERPENTI INCANTATI TOURBILLON LUMIÈRE, A BEWITCHING INTERPRETATION CELEBRATING THE UNION OF HAUTE HORLOGERIE AND HIGH JEWELLERY Blending Bulgari’s finest jewelry and watchmaking know-how, Serpenti Incantati Tourbillon Lumière gives a new lease on life to the snake symbol, the unmistakable signature of the Rome-based Maison. After coiling around the wrist, the snake is now reinvented by wrapping itself for the very first time around the case of a round watch: the reptile literally twines itself around the watch dial, framing an entirely skeleton-worked Manufacture tourbillon calibre. This airily graceful movement is a work of art: the mainplate and bridges are crafted in pink gold, the flanks are straight-grained, the rims and sinks are all chamfered and systematically polished. Circular graining and snailing set the finishing touches to this precious craftsmanship, contributing to a spectacular result. This timepiece is available as a rare and exclusive creation, issued as a limited 50-piece edition. Movement - BVL Calibre 208, mechanical handwound Manufacture skeleton-worked tourbillon movement in 18kt pink gold serving as a dial, segment in 18kt pink gold with an 18kt red gold PVD treatment; indication of the hours and minutes, 64h power

reserve; all metal (gold and steel) movement components are decorated and finished by hand, involving a number of operations: chamfering and polishing, circular graining, snailing; 21,000 vph; water-resistant to 30m. Case - 41mm-diameter case in 18kt pink gold, set with 209 brilliant-cut diamonds (-2.15 cts) and 2 rubellites (-1.9 ct). Bracelet - Bracelet with 18kt pink gold folding clasp set with 28 brilliant-cut diamonds (-0.28 ct). CASEP - ink gold BRACELET STRAP - Leather BUCKLEF - olding buckle SETTING - case, buckle

SERPENTI INCANTATI TOURBILLON LUMIÈRE SKELETON WATCH IN WHITE GOLD Not only is this Bulgari watch a mastery of Italian design, it is also an example of the finest Swiss watchmaking, being the first Serpenti watch ever fitted with a complication. The Bulgari Serpenti Incantati Tourbillon Lumière Skeleton watch bridges the realms of haute joaillerie and haute horlogerie with a beautifully hand-finished skeletonised movement, exposed on both sides of the sapphire crystal case. The 41mm white gold case sees the iconic serpent image coiled around the watch dial and is detailed with stunning white diamonds. The visible tourbillon performs a rotation every 60 seconds, adding a beating heart to this fascinating, limited edition watch. Case: white gold set with 227 briliant-cut diamonds (2.15cts) and 1 sapphire (approx. 0.15cts) or 18K pink gold set with 209 brilliant-cut diamonds (2.15cts) and 2 rubellites (1.9cts), water-resistant to 30m

Movement: mechanical hand-wound (Caliber BVL 208, 64-hour power reserve), made of gold, tourbillon, hand-crafted Haute Horlogerie finishing Functions: hours, minutes Dial: no dial, clear view of the gold movement with 18K pink gold oscillating weight segment with a red PVD coating ; or 18K white gold with a blue PVD coating Diameter: 41mm Bracelet: 18K pink or white gold with gold folding clasp set with 28 brilliant-cut diamonds (0.28cts) Limited Series of 50 in pink gold and 30 in white gold.

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LUXURY & LIFESTYLE - TOP BRAND


TURTLENECKS,

A MUST-HAVE THIS SEASON Originally, turtlenecks used to be considered items of underwear, but in the ‘60s they grew increasingly popular with artists and athletes, quickly becoming garments associated with a bohemian lifestyle. Turtlenecks reached their peak in the ‘70s, worn with jeans by both women and men, however, they have made a strong comeback in the last few seasons, and are a regular presence in any style-conscious man’s wardrobe due to their versatility, which allows them to be integrated in any outfit, no matter the style. So, turtlenecks are as comfortable as they are practical, and you should have several in various colors. A model-like figure is not a must, but, even though there are XXL-size turtlenecks, if you are a rotund individual I wouldn’t recommend them. However, what I do recommend is that, when you buy these garments, you should choose highquality fabrics, which will make you feel good when you wear them. My favorites list includes turtlenecks made from pure extra fine wool or in combination with natural silk made by the famous Italian manufacturer Daniele Fiesoli, which are available exclusively in Romania at my store, Trends by Adina Buzatu.

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Business fine look

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Famous fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld is the personality who insisted on promoting turtlenecks as shirt substitutes for business wear, and important business people worldwide have already adopted that style. You can do that too, as

turtlenecks are a good option for a winter’s day in the office. Solid-colored turtlenecks in beige, brown, grey, burgundy or black can be worn with a grey, navy blue, brown or black suit, and, in this case, color matching is easily done by virtually anyone. The resulting look will be formal enough and refined at the same time. Smart-casual for all For going out with friends, for meetings or activities that do not require a high degree of formality, you can wear turtlenecks with a pair of chinos, a blazer and, of course, adequate winter footwear. If you are a free-spirited person, replace the blazer with a leather jacket. However, if the leather jacket is black,


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your turtleneck should not be of the same color. You should wear colors, and the resulting contrast will be admired by everyone. Of course, if you are going skiing in the mountains, as the winter sport season is in full swing, turtlenecks are an ideal choice to wear at the cabin or the restaurant. Have a stylish winter!


AUTO

NORTH AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL AUTO SHOW MERCEDES-BENZ CELEBRATES G-CLASS WORLD PREMIERE AND NEW AMG MODELS

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Mercedes-Benz heads into 2018 with the relaunch of a classic. At the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit, the brand with the star unveiled the new G-Class.

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The off-road legend will undergo the biggest makeover in its history while at the same time remaining true to itself. Mercedes-AMG is extending its product range with the addition of three new models and at the same time introducing a new model designation: the 53-series models of the CLS, E-Class CoupĂŠ and E-Class Cabriolet (combined fuel consumption: 8.5 - 8.4 l/100 km; combined CO2 emissions: 201 - 200 g/km). They combine powerful performance with sporty style and high efficiency. At their heart lies a new, electrified 3.0-litre engine featuring twin-turbocharging by means of an exhaust gas turbocharger and an electric auxiliary compressor. The 6-cylinder inline engine generates 320 kW (435 hp) and delivers maximum torque of 520 Nm.

LEXUS CARVES OUT A NEW FLAGSHIP LUXURY CROSSOVER Like molten metal being forged into a fine Japanese sword, the lines of the Lexus LF-1 Limitless concept have the potential to shape the future of a flagship luxury crossover for Lexus.

Lexus established the luxury crossover segment two decades ago with the global debut of the RX 300 at Detroit. It remains the top-selling luxury crossover despite nearly 50 competitors that have since entered the segment. The innovative spirit of the LF-1 was created at CALTY Design Research in California. The design language is rooted in the simple yet elegant design concept dubbed molten katana. This design visualization fuses the organic shapes of liquid metal with the sharp edges of a traditional Japanese sword. Imagining that shift from a smooth, flowing mass into a solid, chiseled shape formed the basis for the fluid, yet aggressive design of the LF-1 Limitless. It starts with the right proportions. The


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Lexus LF-1’s exaggerated dash-to-axle ratio gives it an athletic profile that evokes classic grand touring cars rather car than an estate wagon. Combined with a cabin that sits deep within the rear-wheel drive chassis and aggressive 22-inch wheels barely contained under bulging fenders, the LF-1 has a powerful stance that conveys its performance intensions at a glance. The low roofline and elevated ride height further emphasize that this is a crossover designed for performance with practicality. Luxurious comfort for every passenger was CALTY’s goal for the cabin. The LF-1 adheres to the Japanese tradition of omotenashi, or hospitality, welcoming all who enter with equal enthusiasm. The cockpit is designed to allow the driver to concentrate on the task at hand by removing distracting analog knobs and buttons in favor of motion-activated controls and a minimalist display directly ahead. Technology enhances the luxurious feel of the LF-1 by expanding the options offered to the driver. It starts with the LF-1’s Chauffeur mode, which allows for hands-free operation thanks to the vehicle’s by-wire steering, braking, acceleration, lights and signals. For engaged driving, all powertrain controls and mode displays are on the steering wheel to keep the driver focused on the road. The result is smooth, carefree driving with maximum efficiency and reduced risk of accidents. With its innovative technology and captivating styling, the Lexus LF-1 Limitless concept represents the potential for an amazing experience for future luxury customers.

BMW UNVEILS WORLD PREMIERES

NAIAS visitors had the opportunity to experience the updated BMW i8 Coupe (fuel consumption combined: 1.9 l/100 km; CO2 emissions combined: 42 g/km; electric power consumption combined: 14.0 kWh/100 km) and new BMW X2. Plus, the company presented the most exclusive way to discover trailblazing open-top driving pleasure. Having made its debut at the show, the BMW i8 Roadster First Edition (fuel consumption combined: 2.1 l/100 km; CO2 emissions combined: 46 g/km; electric power consumption combined: 14.5 kWh/100 km) stands out with a suitably extensive array of appointments. Also, a luxury-class vehicle concept that encapsulates a fresh understanding of luxury for the BMW brand – the BMW Concept X7 iPerformance – took the stage in Detroit. In the case of the updated BMW i8 Coupe, the three-cylinder petrol engine and electric drive system team up to generate system output of 275 kW/374 hp. The BMW eDrive technology on hand also includes a highvoltage lithium-ion battery with cell capacity of 34 Ah and gross energy capacity of 11.6 kWh. The battery delivers the energy for the 105 kW/143 hp electric motor to power the car from rest all the way to a maximum 105 km/h (65 mph) on a wave of innovative sports car feeling. Pushing the eDrive button raises the top speed on electric power alone to 120 km/h (75 mph). The BMW i8 Roadster First Edition is limited


AUTO

to a production run of 200 units. The specialedition models will be among the first examples of the open-top plug-in hybrid sports car built and delivered to customers around the world. All of the body paint finishes and interior designs offered for the new BMW i8 Coupe and new BMW i8 Roadster are also available for the special edition. These include the newly introduced exterior colours E-Copper metallic and Donington Grey metallic. The Carpo interior design package (included as standard) comprises full leather trim, which is available for the new BMW i8 Roadster exclusively in the colour combination Ivory White/Black.

The 2019 Acura RDX Prototype made its world debut at the 2018 North American International Auto Show, providing a first look at the bold new design, advanced technology

reengineered on a new, Acura-exclusive platform featuring a lighter and dramatically stiffened body, a sophisticated new chassis and an all-new powertrain – a powerful, yet fuel-efficient 2.0-liter DOHC VTEC® Turbo engine mated to a segment-first 10-speed automatic transmission. The 2019 model also will mark the return of Acura Super-Handling All Wheel Drive™ (SH-AWD®) to RDX, in its most advanced form yet, giving RDX the most sophisticated and capable torque-vectoring allwheel-drive system in its class. The 2019 Acura RDX Prototype also debuts a completely new, Acura True Touchpad Interface, designed from a clean slate, combining the best elements of a touchscreen and remote interface in one powerful system. The RDX heralds the launch of Acura’s allnew, True Touchpad Interface, which features an Android-based operating system projected onto a dual-zone, 10.2-inch full-HD display mounted high atop the center console close to the driver’s natural line of sight, and an available interactive head-up display (HUD). All 2019 RDX models will come equipped

and luxury features of the luxury, fivepassenger SUV, launching later this year. An established, perennial top-seller, the RDX has recorded five consecutive years of record sales and seven straight years of year-over-year sales growth. The all-new, third generation RDX has been

with the AcuraWatch™ suite of advanced safety and driver-assistive technologies. Additional available connected-car and driverassistive features include next-generation AcuraLink® with 4G LTE Wi-Fi, Hill Start Assist, Surround-View Camera System, front and rear parking sensors, Rear Cross Traffic Monitor and Blind Spot Information system.

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2019 ACURA RDX PROTOTYPE DEBUTS WITH EVOCATIVE STYLING

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DAIMLER POSTS RECORD RESULTS ONCE AGAIN Daimler AG continued along its path of profitable growth in 2017 and once again reported record levels of unit sales, revenue, Group EBIT and net profit. For the current year, Daimler assumes it will be able to slightly increase its overall unit sales due to the attractive and innovative product portfolio in all divisions, the ongoing positive development of global automotive markets and its strengthening market position. On the basis of the positive development of unit sales, a slight increase in revenue is anticipated. While growth in unit sales and revenue will have a positive impact on the development of earnings, the continuation of very high advance expenditure for the model offensive and innovative technologies will dampen earnings growth, so the company anticipates Group EBIT in the magnitude of the previous year in 2018. “The Daimler workforce has once again succeeded in breaking the records set in the previous year,” said Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars. “Our company stands for stable success in volatile times. But: stability is no justification for still stand. That’s why we are pushing forward with the transformation in all areas at Daimler.” The Daimler Group achieved EBIT of €14.7 billion in 2017 (2016: €12.9 billion), which surpassed the prior-year figure significantly. Its net profit increased to a new record of €10.9 billion (2016: €8.8 billion), while earnings per share increased accordingly to €9.84 (2016: €7.97).

Daimler increased its total unit sales in the year 2017 by nine percent to 3.3 million vehicles, thus surpassing its growth target. The Mercedes-Benz Cars and Mercedes-Benz Vans divisions exceeded the forecasts made at the beginning of the year by recording significant growth (eight percent and 12 percent respectively). Daimler Trucks also posted a significant increase of 13 percent in unit sales. At the beginning of the year, the division had anticipated unit sales similar to those of the previous year. The sales forecast was successively adjusted as a result of more favorable market developments in some important markets. Unit sales at Daimler Buses were also significantly higher than in the prior year (+9%). The development of earnings reflects primarily the very good situation of unit sales in the automotive segments. Accordingly, the MercedesBenz Cars division increased its earnings due in particular to further growth in unit sales, especially of the SUV models and the new E-Class. Daimler Trucks also significantly improved its earnings compared with the previous year, mainly due to increased unit sales in the NAFTA region and the sale of real estate in Japan. Mercedes-Benz Vans and Daimler Buses achieved EBIT at the prior-year level. EBIT at Daimler Financial Services increased significantly. Exchange-rate effects had a net positive impact on operating profit.


AUTO AUTO

TESLA TO HAVE FIRST ALL-ELECTRIC CIRCUIT RACE SERIES IN THE WORLD Tesla electric cars, which have a passionate following around the world, will soon have their own racing competition, a global sports organizer said on Thursday. Electric GT Holdings said the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), motor sports' governing body, has approved circuit races for the Tesla Model S P100D. "The Championship is the first all-electric circuit

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ELON MUSK

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race series in the world and heralds the dawn of a new electric future," Electric GT said on .. Tesla founder Elon Musk has billed a model S P100D with "Ludicrous mode" as the third-fastest accelerating production car ever made, capable of going from zero to 60 miles per hour (96 kilometers per hour) in 2.5 seconds. That is slower only than the LaFerrari and Porsche 918 Spyder two-seaters, according to Tesla.

No date for the races has been announced, but they will involve 20 international drivers racing for 10 professional teams, according to Electric GT. They will be organized in two rounds of 38 miles (60 kilometers) each, one in the day and another at dusk, after a three-heat qualifying round. Competition for 100-percent electric vehicles has grown. Formula E, which bills itself as the world's first fully-electric international single-seater street racing series, brings competition to 10 cities around the world. Since it began in 2014, the series has drawn an increasing number of automobile manufacturers. The 2018-2019 season will include Mercedes, Porsche and BMW. Volkswagen on Wednesday said a 100-percent electric prototype, driven by Frenchman Romain Dumas, will join the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in the United States in June. After winning Pikes Peak three times, Dumas aims to top the best time realized by an electric car in the race, the American Rhys Millen's 8 min 57 sec 118/1000, which is also the third best of all times. Dorna, which runs the MotoGP World Championship of motorcycle racing, is preparing for an electric motorcycle championship in 2019, when the RallyCross championship prepares to become the "E-WRX" in 2020.


HOSPITALITY

MARRIOTT INTERNATIONAL MARKS 2017 AS YEAR OF HISTORIC INTERNATIONAL EXPANSION

Record 55,000 rooms signed in international markets fueled by entry into new markets and growing developer interest in Legacy-Starwood brands

Marriott International announced that 2017 represented its most successful year for signing development contracts outside North America, fueled by record signings in Asia and Europe.

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Globally, at year end 2017, the company operated or franchised more than 6,500 hotels and over 1.25 million rooms, with a third of the rooms located outside North America. Marriott International and its franchisees opened more than 470 hotels with over 76,000 rooms around the world during the year, amplifying the company’s brand recognition among guests, owners and franchisees. “Marriott International continued to increase its global presence in 2017, opening properties in 5 new countries and territories and reaching a presence in 127 countries and territories around the world,” said Tony Capuano, Executive Vice

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President and Global Chief Development Officer, Marriott International. “Our growth is fueled by the broadest portfolio of lodging brands in the industry, impressive international expansion, and a large proportion of projects in the most valuable tiers. We are particularly pleased with the accelerating growth of our legacy Starwood brands.” In 2017, the company signed more than 750 contracts for new hotels representing nearly 125,000 rooms under long-term management and franchise agreements. Its global pipeline grew to a record 460,000 rooms, with over half located outside of North America.


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THE WESTIN MAUI RESORT & SPA, KA'ANAPALI “Marriott’s growing development pipeline in 2017 was fueled in part by synergies associated with the Starwood acquisition. We expect owners will see additional benefits as we continue to realize more synergies, including the harmonization of our reservation platform currently in the works and high value relationships like the recently completed co-brand credit card agreements with American Express and JP Morgan Chase,” said Leeny Oberg, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Marriott International. GLOBAL DEMAND & LEGACY-STARWOOD BRANDS FUEL GROWTH Outside of North America, Marriott opened over 140 hotels and approximately 30,000 rooms in 2017. In the Asia Pacific market alone, the company opened 18,000 rooms and signed 31,000 rooms in 2017. Today, the Asia Pacific market represents 15 percent of our global rooms but nearly a third of the company’s pipeline. Greater China alone represents 8 percent of the company’s global rooms and 19 percent of the year-end pipeline. In Europe, Marriott opened 5,800 rooms and signed 12,000 rooms in 2017. Hotels in Europe represent 9 percent of Marriott’s global room distribution. In North America, there were 329 hotel openings in 2017 and

482 contracts signed. Interest also grew in the Caribbean and Latin American region with 19 hotel openings with a record 37 signed deals in 2017. In the Middle East and Africa region, Marriott opened 12 hotels and ended the year with 30 signed contracts. In 2017, Marriott seized on the growing demand for select service hotels worldwide, signing a record 578 contracts for its 11 brands such as Courtyard, Moxy, and AC. Outside of North America, select service signings totaled 158 contracts with particular strength in the Asia Pacific region. In North America alone, the company opened 270 select service hotels and signed 420 select service agreements. In 2017, Marriott continued its emphasis on driving economic value, not just room additions. Of the company’s room signings, nearly 80 percent were in the industry’s three highest-quality tiers – luxury, upper upscale and upscale – which drive significant revenue per available room and fee revenue. At year end, Marriott’s seven luxury brands were represented by 469 open hotels. The company’s luxury hotel pipeline totaled more than 200 projects of which nearly half were under conversion or construction. Marriott International, Inc. is based in Bethesda, Maryland, USA, and encompasses a portfolio of more than 6,500 properties in 30 leading hotel brands spanning 127 countries and territories. Marriott operates and franchises hotels and licenses vacation ownership resorts all around the world. The company also operates award-winning loyalty programs: Marriott Rewards®, which includes The Ritz-Carlton Rewards®, and Starwood Preferred Guest®.


ECONOMY

APPLE’S MASSIVE CASH REPATRIATION A TEST FOR TRICKLE-DOWN ECONOMICS

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Apple on Wednesday delivered on its promise to repatriate €205bn ($249 billion) to the United States, paying a 15.5 per cent repatriation tax amounting to €31bn ($38 billion). The previous official corporate tax rate was 21.5 per cent.

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Although the new tax law “requires” companies to repatriate their assets, Apple’s repatriation was announced almost a year ago. Apple CEO Tim Cook has repeatedly demanded a more “fair tax” for nearly two years, which would allow for the repatriation of the company’s assets. The political question now is how much will the US economy benefit from the repatriation programme, which is founded on the assumption that wealth creation leads to investment and jobs, or trickle-down economics. In Apple’s case, questions remains whether the company’s aftertax cash pile of $207bn will be reinvested into the US economy, as Trump claims. Apple has only committed to an investment programme of $30bn over the next five years, nowhere near the amount of cash being repatriated. Up to $90bn of this money could go to repay its mounting corporate debt that accumulated in a low-interest rate environment to pay for corporate buy-backs and benefit shareholders, according to Moody’s. Microsoft, Cisco, Oracle, and Apple have

accumulated debt to the tune of $250bn, finding interest payments more advantageous to taxes. Until the introduction of the Trump tax bill, US multinationals took advantage of a tax loophole stipulating that liquid assets were taxed only when repatriated. That clause incentivised multinationals to maintain large sums of money outside the US. Precedent suggests that Apple’s remaining surplus is unlikely to create new jobs. In 2004, former US President George W. Bush allowed companies to repatriate cash for a 5.5 per cent tax, much lower than the current Trump tax holiday. According to a study by the Center on Budget and Policy Procedures, the Bush tax holiday yielded cash repatriation to the tune of $315bn, but most of the companies proceeded with a series of firings rather than hirings. The Ford motor company repatriated around $850 million and laid off about 10,000 US-based workers in 2005, while pharmaceutical firm Merck & Co repatriated $15.9bn and announced layoffs of 7,000 workers in 2005


in partnership with

With its strong and diverse tradition in creating new platforms for the business community to share their views and ideas, and in recognizing business success and achievements, spanning over 17 years, Business Arena has launched a new project designed to expand the scope of its annual award ceremonies, with the addition of a new gala to its events calendar. The Awards for Excellence is already becoming a highlight on the business events calendar. Guests gather to celebrate excellence in business, sports, culture, and community, enjoying the company of friends and industry colleagues.

Innovation, resourcefulness, perseverance and a culture of responsible risktaking have helped many overcome major challenges. Thus, the new awards gala brings recognition to individuals and organizations in business, culture, sport and civil society that recorded outstanding results and achievements. FIND MORE DETAILS ABOUT LAST YEAR’S CATEGORIES AND WINNERS ON OUR WEBSITE AT WWW.BUSNESS-ARENA.RO. For more information please contact Cosmin Stangaciu at cosmin.stangaciu@business-arena.ro or phone 0755.274.125


LUXURY & LIFESTYLE - TOP BRAND

MALLE PLÉNITUDE DOM PÉRIGNON: THROWBACK ON AN EXCEPTIONAL ONLINE AUCTION Online auction House Auctionata has associated for the first time with the most prestigious Champagne house in the world, Dom Pérignon for an exceptional event: the auction of the limited series of Malle Plénitude Dom Pérignon trunks. 37 YEARS OF HISTORY IN A BOTTLE

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To compose Malle Plénitude Dom Pérignon, 23 bottles have been carefully chosen in Don Pérignon’s own cellar by the Chef de Cave Richard Geoffroy himself. These champagnes have been bottled between 1969 and 2006 and form a unique combination specially selected for this auction. More precisely, the selection of champagne for the Malle Plénitude Dom Pérignon trunks understood 10 Dom Pérignon Vintage bottles,

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10 Dom Pérignon P2 bottles and 3 Dom Pérignon P3 bottles, a true treasure for champagne experts. The bottles have all been stored in perfect conditions within the renowned House and will probably be the only opportunity to find such a quality of champagnes in a single selection. AN EXCEPTIONAL AUCTION Only 6 trunks of the Malle Plénitude Dom Pérignon have been assembled, one of them kept by the House and five of them sold during a unique online auction organized on Auctionata’s website. In addition to this unique selection of champagne, buyers have been able to buy a bespoke trunk and personalize it depending on their tastes. Indeed it was possible for the owner to choose the leather type, the interior lining and the engravings of his Malle Plénitude Dom Pérignon. So they also represent a oneof-a-kind design object. Then, each buyer of a Malle Plénitude Dom Pérignon has received a privileged invitation to discover the brand and the House’s unique universe through the visit of its historical abbey and cellar in Hautvilliers (France), generally forbidden to the public. To possess such a rare object, buyers have been able to place their bids on Internet via their smartphone, tablet and computers during a few weeks before the auction and in real time via Facebook Live! The starting price for each Malle Plénitude Dom Pérignon trunk was fixed at 36.000€!


THE MILLÉSIME TRUNK MARRIES SKILLED MALSTER WITH OENOLOGY TO AWAKE YOUR SENSES!

For those who love great wines, you will be pleased to learn that from now on you can delight every palate and amaze your hosts thank to TTTrunks manufacture. Indeed the Millésime T512 Trunk we introduce you today keeps many hidden treasures, and all of them in a refined jewel box.

Thanks to the Millésime T512 Trunk you can reunite centenary know-how concerning high maltster and high technology, more specifically concerning oenology. After 1050 hours of manufacturing, the house’s best craftsmen managed to build this jewel box with almost unreal dimensions. Then the Trunk will accompany you wherever you want. And to do that, the Millésime T512 Trunk appears to be truly one-of-a-kind. Indeed, it is the only trunk in the world that allow you to preserve fine wines in a perfect conditions, but also to create an out of time place for you and your guests, but while remaining nomad. PLEASURE OF THE SENSES AND FEAST FOR THE EYES Everything begins with a strong visual identity, T.T.Trunks one, and its unique craftsmanship. The Millésime T512 Trunk dresses in black, leather and metal on its surfaces, using first choice materials such as nickel-plated burnished brass. Each detail has been carefully studied to affirm the manufacture’s identity until the handles that proudly wear its signature. Once you open the Millésime T512 Trunk’s cover, all your senses are awakened again and you can admire the electric blue interior, represented on the different compartments until the quilting. Then comes the time to taste…

HIGH-TECHNOLOGY FOR A UNIQUE TASTING After opening the Millésime T512 Trunk, you can choose between one of your 10 fine wines, carefully preserved at a perfect temperature; Stretch out the tasting plate and pick up one of the wine and champagne glasses subtly hidden in the compartments. But the show doesn’t’ stop to the amazing convenience of the Millésime T512 Trunk. Indeed it also hides marine white-leathered coasters with black-leathered base that underline the most delicate wines’ dress. For moments of conviviality with your guests, the Millésime T512 Trunk also possesses two wifi stereo speakers and a guestbook, to remember this time for the rest of your life. Now you just have to know that the Millésime T512 Trunk is available for a prestigious price as well because it costs 100.000 euros!


BUSINESS NEWS

MONTEGRAPPA ETERNAL BIRD DIAMONDS AND GOLD INKWELL The Montegrappa Eternal Bird Diamonds and Gold Ink Bottle is the companion to the Eternal Bird Diamonds and Gold Fountain pen. The Montegrappa Eternal Bird Diamonds and Gold Ink Bottle is crafted as a large 18K gold diecast Phoenix on top of a Madagascar rock crystal bottle as though the wings are holding the bottle.

THE EYES OF THE BIRD The red motif from the celluloid pen is repeated in the eyes of the bird which are represented by two brilliant-cut rubies. The Montegrappa Eternal Bird Silver Ink Bottle is manufactured with the following details: Materials: 18K Yellow Gold, Rubies, whited diamonds Rock crystal from Madagascar Craftsmanship Technique: Die-casting Packaging: Special Limited Edition of 10 $41,800.

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MONTBLANC ARTISAN EDITION PABLO PICASSO PENS PAY HOMAGE TO THE PAINTER

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The skeletonised 750 solid gold cap offers the view on the rhodium-plated 18 K gold nib and is engraved with Picasso’s comments and sketches on his work “Portrait de jeune fille”. This famous piece of art cap, with the distinctive trait of the portrait being pictured by the artfully crafted clip. The cap top is adorned with an embedded Montblanc emblem made if mother-of-pearl. The 18 K gold nib is decorated with a fine engraving of Picasso’s famous signet “ojo”. Picasso’s spanish origin is masterfully visualised on the cone: the composition of red lacquered stripes between rings made of 750 solid gold represents the national colours of Spain. The barrel made of black precious lacquer is shaped reminiscent of the simple pencils Picasso used for many of his sketches. Pablo Picasso, born in Málaga in 1881, started to paint at the early age of seven and a

mere two years later completed his first oil painting, “Le Picador”. It was the start of an unequalled artistic career whose beginnings got underway in his father’s painting classes. Until his death in 1973 in Mougins, France, the artistic genius of the twentieth century produced more than 50,000 works ranging from drawings to ceramics and from poetry to sculpture and painting. These works include the dove of peace and his most famous work, “Guernica”, which depicted the destruction of the city of the same name during the Spanish Civil War. It was displayed for the first time at the International Fair in Paris in 1937, where it received the highest accolades. Even today, we are still impressed by the unique language of the shapes that will endure forever, along with their legendary creator, Pablo Picasso. The Limited Edition 39 is a more exclusive comes with a cap made of 750 solid white gold, and a Montblanc diamond. This one honors the painter’s his muse, Sylvette David, on whom Picasso created 39 paintings and drawings. This one is available at a price of $55,000.


VISCONTI WATERMARK DEMO SILVER LE One of the greatest skills of Visconti are the cut out filigree that Visconti launched since 1993 with the Uffizi LE. The technique of the cut out was improved during the years and pens like the Skeleton or the Ripple are masterpieces for all pen collectors. To create a new pattern is a work that may take, for our designers, months of work . This time the choice was made on a new designs that recalls the Visconti logo like a paper filigree. In this way Watermark Demo Silver was born, a combination of sizes of the logo like those formats given from the advertising agency to their clients. The filigree is cut out from a solid tube of silver and the work requires over 20 manual operations to reach the final status. The pen is beautiful enough to justify such work ! Edition Limited to 888 pens worldwide Material:925 Silver Nib : 23 kt 950 Palladium Filling : Double Reservoir Power Filler Artist work : Silver Filigree Packaging : Wood Luxury Box

VISCONTI WILD WEST FOUNTAIN PEN, 925 SILVER, LIMITED EDITION The American West, land of adventerous explorers and new frontiers. The third pen of Visconti's scrimshaw triliogy capture the spirit of the Wild West. The motif on the barrel is an intricately scrimshaw engraved image of the classic Cowboy riding a mustang. The cap as well as the pen's beautiful display box is made from handtooled leather, and the beautiful end pieces are made from antiqued sterling silver, with a classic image of crossed six shooters on the bottom of the

pen. The clip, which is also antiqued sterling silver, displays Visconti's name in the style of an Old Saloon Sign. Featuring the 23k pure palladium dreamtouch nib, this writing instrument is sure to become a centerpiece of your collection and is the perfect companion piece to the Declaration of Independence. This pen is destined to become a true piece of Americana. Limited Edition: 388 units & Price: $2,785.00

Business Arena Magazine nr. 74  
Business Arena Magazine nr. 74  
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