Page 1

GET REAL: ROMANIAN PROPERTY MARKET NEGOTIATES BRAVE NEW WORLD

Photo: Dreamstime

December, 2018 / Volume 22, Issue 11

www.business-review.eu

6

ROMANIANS GET RICHER BUT URBAN/RURAL DIVIDE YAWNS WIDER

24

BLINK FOUNDERS RAISE USD 5 MILLION TO OVERTAKE BLOCKCHAIN

26

5G TECHNOLOGY SET TO COVER LOCAL INTERNET ‘WHITE ZONES’

38

TOP 100 FOREIGN COMPANIES IN ROMANIA IN 2017


www.business-review.eu Business Review | December 2018

EDITORIAL 3 REAL ESTATE

• Editorial •

Anda Sebesi

6 Get real: Romanian property market negotiates brave new world

• Deputy Editor-in-Chief •

10 Growing supply set to suppress rents in Q1 2019

COVER STORY

Let’s talk about performance: 100 at 100

A

lthough the business world is profit oriented, this is not the only way or even the best way to measure business

14 Top 100 foreign companies in Romania in 2017

performance. There are many other elements to consider

that may be even more important than profit.

MONEY

Profit and turnover are a short-sighted gauge of success. What is more important is sustainability. Sustainability is the characteristic of being able to exist indefinitely. This includes employees, availability of raw materials, machinery and other value-adding elements. In this issue, published as Romania prepares to mark its

24 Romanians get richer but

centenary, Business Review has chosen to publish the Top 100 for-

urban/rural divide yawns wider

eign companies in Romania ranked by turnover in 2017, based on

TECHNOLOGY

data provided by the National Trade Register Office (ONRC). They all represent a major driving force for the local economy, making things happen in Romania. And they confirm that only sustainable,

38 5G technology set to cover

long-term growth is valid in the current macroeconomic context.

local internet ‘white zones’

These are big players like Automobile Dacia, Carrefour, Voda-

40 AI poised to reshape our apps

fone, Arctic, BCR, Blue Air, Sanofi, NN Asigurari de Viata, Ursus

– and our societies

Breweries, household names which have survived what the local economy has thrown at them.

CITY

And we’re talking big numbers: the cumulated turnover posted by the top ten players in the 2017 ranking is about EUR 1.3 billion, while the companies making up the top 100 had a total turnover of EUR 67 billion. Who is driving the list? Cars, of course! The automotive industry (including auto parts) and production are the industries with the most representatives in the top 100, followed by oil & gas, retail, commerce, telecom, heavy industry, pharma, FMCG, energy, finance and transportation. All these sectors have played their part in shaping modern Romania. Here’s to these 100 firms and the next 100 years!

42 State of the art: MNAC showcases 60 years of local history

44 Not Bad: local artist Dan Mihaltianu featured in international Michael Jackson exhibition

46 Cultural calendar

FOUNDING EDITOR: Bill Avery EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: Ioana Erdei DEPUTY EDITORS-IN-CHIEF: Sorin Melenciuc, Anda Sebesi JOURNALISTS: Anca Alexe, Aurel Dragan, Georgeta Gheorghe, Romanita Oprea, Oana Vasiliu, Razvan Zamfir CONTRIBUTOR: Ovidiu Posirca COPY EDITOR: Debbie Stowe PHOTO EDITOR: Mihai Constantineanu ART DIRECTOR: Raluca Piscu PUBLISHER: Bloc-Notes Media Network ADDRESS: 58 Stirbei Voda Street, 3rd Floor, District 1, Bucharest, Romania­­­­ LANDLINE: 031.040.09.31 EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: George Moise BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR: Oana Molodoi SALES MANAGERS: Radu Fireteanu, Alexandra Rosca EVENTS MANAGERS: George Darie, Mara Dragoiu EVENTS & MARKETING: Luiza Luca PRODUCTION: Dan Mitroi DISTRI­­BUTION: Eugen Musat EMAILS: editorial@business-review.eu, sales@business-review.eu, events@business-review.eu

Publicație auditată pe perioada Apr 2015 - Mar 2016

ISSN NO. 1453-729X


www.business-review.eu Business Review | December 2018

4 NEWS

WHO’S NEWS

said, quoted by Agerpres. The central bank official pointed out

BR welcomes information for Who’s News. Submissions may be edited fo­­­r length and clarity. Get in touch at anca.alexe@business-review.ro

at the high levels of public debt. “My opinion is that if there is a recession in the global economy, it will not be of the magnitude of the 2007-2009 crisis, with the problems that we have. Public and private debt remain high, even increased in some countries,” Daianu commented. He warned

Christina-Theodora Ilie is the new chief operations officer at Policolor – Orgachim, where she will coordinate operations on both the Romanian and Bulgarian markets. She has more than 20 years’ experience in the field, working for multinationals in various departments including purchasing, logistics and customer service. Her objectives for 2019 are to implement new processes and management tools, to successfully move Policolor to a new factory in Bucharest, and to introduce new production technology in Bulgaria.

that a possible world crisis would automatically affect Romania.

Romania’s greatest vulnerability is the large budget deficit

Global economy to re-enter recession but not as bad as the financial crisis

page 5

will not turn into a recession of the magnitude of 2007-20082009. The evolution of the Romanian economy is linked to the evolution of European economies, to what is happening in the global space, because

By Sorin Melenciuc

we have an open economy, even if the financial markets

The global economy could

thing as a real recession. It can

in our country are thinner and

enter a new recession into the

turn into a real recession if you

our trade depends largely on

near future, but not as bad as

have a cocktail of circumstances

what happens in the European

the crisis of 2007-2009, Na-

like: major international cor-

economy,” Daianu said.

tional Bank of Romania (BNR)

rections, a nine-year economic

board member Daniel Daianu

recovery in the US – it’s a long re-

tion than other economies but

said in November.

covery in the history of economic

its greatest vulnerability is the

recoveries. These corrections are

large budget deficit, according

inevitable at some point,” Daianu

to the BNR official.

“This must be said: a techniAnca Petcu has been appointed chief transformation officer of BCR. The bank’s new unit will coordinate the strategy, project management and process and regulation departments, helping to define and implement all of the bank’s transformation initiatives and activities. A graduate of the Academy of Economic Studies and the London Business School, Petcu has been at BCR since 2013, and has 17 years of experience in financial services, banking and leasing. Before becoming CTO, she was the CEO of BCR’s corporate division.

“So there is this possibility of having a recession, but it

cal recession is not the same

Romania ranks 56th out of 63 countries in World Talent Ranking

Romania is in a better posi-

IMD World Competitiveness Center in its World Talent Ranking 2018, posting an advance of five positions, from 61st place last year. In this year’s report, Romania cane between the Philippines (55th) and Bulgaria (57th) but is considered less attractive to talents than most European countries, including Ukraine (48th) and Russia (46th). Roma-

By Sorin Melenciuc

nia ranks 54th out of 63 in terms

Romania came 56th out of 63

55th in terms of appeal (the

countries analyzed by the Swiss

extent to which a country taps

of investment and development,

Romania is considered less attractive to talents than most european countries


www.business-review.eu Business Review | December 2018

NEWS 5

Electronics and home appliances market to exceed EUR 2 billion in 2018 Dreamstime

By Aurel Dragan Romania’s electronics and home appliances market could exceed the EUR 2 billion (RON 9.5 billion) threshold this year, amid Romania’s appetite for Black Friday purchases and the Christmas shopping season, according to analysis by KeysFin. “The trade of electronics

Violeta Luca is the new general manager of Microsoft Romania, having been at the company since 2015, when she started out as head of strategy and moved on to marketing & operations director. A graduate of the Academy of Economic Studies in Bucharest, as well as several management courses, Luca, 38, has over 17 years experience in IT and retail. She has also worked at Whirlpool, Flanco, eMag and Metro Cash & Carry.

and home appliances is very well-centered around some major investors. Although there are over 600 companies

Romania’s electronics and home appliances market is expected to consolidate

at the national level in this sector, only a few of them are

of the market,” read the report.

tional (eMag), with a turnover

able to survive alongside the

The analysis, which took

of RON 3.31 billion, which rep-

big players, which explains

into account the evolution of

resents 39.7 percent of the total

why the number of companies

companies whose main activity

national business. Also among

dropped last year by 8 percent

is the retail trade of household

the top retailers are Altex

compared to 2016 and by 15

appliances and electronics in

Romania, with a business of

percent compared to 2013. We

specialized stores, shows that

RON 3.28 billion (39.4 percent),

expect the consolidation pro-

this market is highly concentrat-

Flanco Retail (RON 983 million,

cess to continue, with major

ed, with five companies account-

11.8 percent of the total), Euro

investments in retail networks,

ing for 93 percent of the total

GSM Impex (RON 113 million

in logistics and especially in

turnover at the national level.

lei, 1.4 percent) and Gorenje

the online segment, which will contribute to the coagulation

According to data for 2017, the market leader is Dante Interna-

Romania (RON 77.6 million, 0.9 percent).

Thomas Hofmann has been named chief marketing & digital officer at DONA pharmacies, where he will drive the company’s marketing strategy and coordinate the communication, branding and digital activities. Hofmann also led the independent pharmacy network Alphega in Germany for five years. He has over 25 years of experience in senior positions at major companies like Renault, Volkswagen, Intel and McDonald’s and international advertising agencies (BBDO, HAVAS).

into the overseas talent pool) and 52nd in terms of readiness (availability of skills and competencies in the talent pool). According to the authors of the report, data from low-ranking Eastern European economies highlight the overall trend that talent-competitive countries benefit from high levels of quality of life and availability of skilled labor. The IMD World Talent Ranking is based on countries’ performance in investment and development, appeal and Dreamstime

readiness.

Felix Craciunescu is PayPoint Romania’s new IT director. The department coordinates a wide variety of activities related to PayPoint’s operational and internal systems, its terminal network and transaction platform, the implementation of new solutions and payment schemes and ensuring project management. Craciunescu started out as a software developer, and in 2000 he joined Edenred Romania as a software engineer.


www.business-review.eu Business Review | December 2018

6 PROPERTY MARKET

Get real: Romanian property market negotiates brave new world Apartment prices in Bucharest peaked at EUR 2,058/sqm, in March 2008. In November, they were down to EUR 1,637/sqm. Over the same period, rents for offices tumbled from EUR 24.4 to EUR 18.5/sqm/month, while the retail and investment scenes have also endured their ups and downs over the last tumultuous decade. By Razvan Zamfir

Sky Tower’s development took five years due to the crises

HOME TRUTHS

one of the most pertinent barometers of

The past excesses of Romania’s residential

overall sentiment and to a certain extent, this

segment have long made the headlines. Back

remains the case today.

in 2007-2008, prices could jump by 5-10 per-

This is because the bulk of Romanians’

and Romanians went on a spending spree. Nowadays, despite the fact that more than 400,000 new apartments and houses were built between 2009 and 2017, household

cent from one month to another. The all-time

wealth is concentrated in their homes (in

real estate wealth remains nearly 40 percent

record annual growth in Bucharest was nearly

2008, over 90 percent of total wealth was in

below its pre-crisis record. This is because

60 percent (seen at the end of 2005 and 2007).

real estate and just 10 percent in financial

prices languish below the levels seen in the

At the same time, it was not uncommon

assets). As the value of properties (exclud-

crazy days of 2007- 2008 (down by around 40

for a single buyer (including individuals) to

ing land) owned by households more than

percent in Bucharest). The market seems to

purchase over 100 apartments in one go as

doubled between 2005 and 2008, to nearly

have matured to a certain extent as both indi-

“investments”. Residential properties were

EUR half a trillion, morale was riding high

vidual Romanians and developers have been


www.business-review.eu December Business Review | May 2016 2018

PROPERTY COVERMARKET STORY 147

through an economic cycle with an exception-

has since recovered to healthier levels, rents

ally steep downturn.

remain far lower than a decade ago. The scale

Another aspect worth pointing out is that while in 2007-2008, Romanian residential properties were seen as some of the most

increased by a staggering 4.6 fold. In those days tenants were lining up,

is also very different, as the total stock was

with lots of new names that have since

more than four times smaller back then.

become established players on the domestic

Alongside an improvement in tenant qual-

scene, like Peek & Cloppenburg, Deichmann,

overvalued in the EU, if not the most, Europe-

ity, this suggests the market should be better

Bershka, Takko, Hervis, New Yorker, and Zara

an Central Bank economic models now show

prepared to face a new economic correction.

Home. In 2007, since space was limited, many

that Romania is at the opposite end, with

Still, as developers (not just for office) are

of these new players had to take what they

properties actually significantly undervalued

very much re-active

could get and ended

(particularly if the price to income ratio is

rather than pro-active,

up opening their first

taken into account).

building activity has

store not in Bucharest,

intensified greatly in

as would have seemed

exclude a more challenging period for the

the last year amid very

customary, but in

market in the next couple of years as deliv-

favorable economic

towns like Cluj-Napoca,

eries are set to accelerate, while monetary

results in recent years.

Timisoara and Targu

As things look right now, we cannot

policy tightening and the upcoming demise of

Mures.

Meanwhile, other

But the scene would

the state guarantee scheme are likely to dent

cities, such as Cluj-

demand going forward.

Napoca, Timisoara, and

shift rapidly. Fast-for-

even Iasi and Brasov,

ward about a year and it

OFFICE MARKET RINGS THE CHANGES

have become tempting

had become very much

The Bucharest office market has changed

for developers.

significantly in the last decade, moving from a massively undersupplied market to relative equilibrium nowadays. The vacancy rate

Shop ‘til the drop: retail market waxes and wanes At the end of 2006, total modern retail

jumped from just a bit over 0 percent in 2007

stock stood at a very subdued 360,000 sqm

to upwards of 20 percent in the aftermath

nationwide. By the start of the recession

of the 2009-2010 recession, and though it

in Romania two years later, it would have

a tenants’ market. Retailers found that as the economy was cooling off in the second half of 2008, Romanian stores had fallen far short of their expected results, especially outside Bucharest. Developers probably had it worse, especially as banks pulled the plug aggres-


www.business-review.eu Business Review | December 2018

8 PROPERTY MARKET

sively during the second semester of 2008.

more liquid back then, with investment in

rhaging money, domestic banks stopped

Due to the surge in deliveries (especially in

excess of EUR 1.5 billion in 2007, and several

handing out funding in the second part of

2008-2009, projects started when everything

of the big global investors joining the frenzy.

2008 and activity froze.

seemed fine), the select retailers that were

Meanwhile, post-crisis highs barely approach

expanding could afford to be quite picky and

EUR 1 billion in good years (like 2017) and

ket to start thawing and, ironically, many of

some schemes ended up opening with just

were as low as EUR 200 million in 2011 and

today’s sellers are the buyers from back then,

half of the units actually trading.

2012.

often having taken big hits. 2007 probably

Meanwhile, a few developers that suffered

“Today’s market is a bit more challenging

It would take until 2014-2015 for the mar-

remains the historic peak in terms of market

both from a poor tenant mix/positioning and

than a decade ago and it seems noticeably

activity. Bucharest alone saw land deals worth

too much leverage would go bankrupt in the

more difficult to close a deal than in 2007,

over EUR 850 million in 2007 (probably well

post-crisis period, but insolvencies were not

as investors want

widespread.

to make sure they

A significant change compared to those

are not overpay-

years is the fact that Bucharest’s high street

ing. While this is a

retail scene (upwards of 70,000 sqm in 2008,

positive sign in that it

mostly in central locations) has become a pale

heralds a more stable

shadow of its former self, as local consumers

market over the long

have become much more accustomed to go-

run (including during

ing to shopping centers.

downturns), the lack of liquidity (par-

INVESTMENTS GO UP AND DOWN

ticularly compared

Even in Romania’s emerging economy,

to CEE peers) is still

prime office yields reached 6 percent (with

something of a draw-

the America House transaction below this

back in spite of the

benchmark).

recent improvements,” continues Pop.

“Indeed, with an office building in Bucharest selling for what is still the all-time low

over the EUR 1 billion mark for the whole

Banks put brake on land deals

country) compared to around EUR 230 million

In parts of Bucharest, land prices increased

last year (or EUR 350 million for the whole

of 5.5 percent in 2007, the local investment

more than tenfold in the years leading up

market was on a par with regional peers and

to the financial crisis. For instance, Col-

country). In certain areas, prices likely remain below

even ahead of some if we take into account

liers’ reports dating back to 2003-2004 note

half of their level in 2007-2008, while buyers

strictly this figure. How things have changed:

that prices in the Herastrau-Aviatiei area of

seem much more cautious. For instance,

nowadays, domestic prime office assets are

Bucharest were around EUR 200-400/sqm. In

when a plot was sold at auction, it wasn’t at

the only ones among the biggest CEE econo-

the first half of 2008, an investor paid around

all uncommon for the starting price to double;

mies (Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic) to

EUR 4,500/sqm in the same region; the all-

nowadays, despite the strong competition,

have yields consistently higher than pre-crisis

time record (and likely still unsurpassed) was

sellers may get some 10-20 percent more.

lows, for office assets,” said Silviu Pop, head

for a small plot in the Aviatorilor area which

of research at Colliers International.

sold for EUR 7,000/sqm.

More importantly, the market was much

As the global financial system was hemor-

Good, but not at all comparable with the past highs, which, say some analysts, will never return.


www.business-review.eu Business Review | December 2018

INTERVIEW 9

The building sector has the highest untapped potential regarding energy efficiency Marius Persinaru, country president for Romania and Republic of Moldova at Schneider Electric, tells Business Review about the company’s services for the energy efficiency of both buildings and electric vehicles.

ABOUT MARIUS PERSINARU Country President Romania and Republic of Moldova, Schneider Electric Marius Persinaru is Country President Romania and Republic of Moldova at Schneider Electric. He has a vast experience on the IT services market and has had an international career, managing several countries, before joining Schneider Electric in 2016.

By Anda Sebesi for medium and small buildings, designed to improve energy efficiency and comfort. HVAC is one of the top expenses in small and medium buildings, followed by lighting and metering, and these parameters can be easily monitored and managed. So, no matter if we talk about large or small buildings, there are convenient ways for energy consumption optimization.

Can you give us some details about The Edge, the building located in Amsterdam, which is the most sustainable building in the world? The Edge is one of our top success stories when it comes to EcoStruxure Building, as

Buildings are a big part of our everyday life:

What can you tell us about the management of both large and medium and small buildings when it comes to optimizing their energy consumption?

we spend almost 90 percent of our day inside

The building sector has the highest untapped

specifically, the Edge produces around 102

them, so they need to be as valuable as pos-

potential regarding energy efficiency: 82

percent of its energy. Basically, our system is

sible both for the companies which invest in

percent still free room for improvement is

the backbone of the building and the smart

this area and the end-users. Nowadays, fast

huge. Our EcoStruxure Building system archi-

sensors gather and analyse data to improve

urbanization makes the efficiency goal even

tecture can accommodate very large sites,

algorithms.

more challenging, as well as the fact that,

such as campuses and multisite real estate

unlike other industries, the efficiency of the

portfolios very conveniently – for example,

construction industry has made little progress

via mobile devices – with outstanding results.

over the last 70 years – according to McKinsey

It allows the data exchange from Schneider

How does Schneider Electric approach energy efficiency when it comes to electric cars?

Global Institute (Reinventing Construction:

Electric and any other management systems,

First of all, the world needs to focus on re-

A Route to Higher Productivity). Our digital

including HVAC, lighting, energy, security,

newable energies – wind and solar – in order

and interoperable architecture, EcoStruxure,

fire safety. The integration across systems is

to decarbonize the energy sector and, also,

which can deliver efficiency for our custom-

what makes the difference between a “tradi-

the second step will consist of electrifying the

ers, has 6 areas of expertise: Power, Building,

tional” and a smart building today.

end-uses of energy. We think that migration

What are the main services that Schneider Electric offers for the energy efficiency of buildings?

Machine, IT, Grid and Plant. EcoStruxure

Although we often come across the mis-

we managed to create a better than zeroenergy usage office building, integrating IoT, analytics, and connected products. More

towards an electric renewable-based system

Building is able to make a building more effi-

conception that automation is only for large

is the right approach and could significantly

cient by combining energy related assets into

buildings, things have been quite different

improve the efficiency of the energy system –

one IoT-enabled platform.

for some time. We have affordable solutions

by making it almost twice as efficient.


www.business-review.eu Business Review | December 2018

10 RESIDENTIAL

Growing supply set to suppress rents in Q1 2019 Despite the traditional spike across university centers with the arrival of autumn, rents remained, on the whole, at a fairly stable level in the third quarter of 2018. By Razvan Zamfir

The interior of a rented house with high quality design

2018, the average rent asked for a

A

Timisoara, Romania’s other two major univer-

The other cities where tenants can rent most

two-room (one-bedroom) apartment

sity centers, stayed at a constant level: a two-

affordably are Resita (where a two-room

categorized as comfort 1 (built between 1980

room apartment with a usable area between

home costs EUR 170 per month), Ramnicu

and 2000) in Cluj-Napoca rebounded to the

50 and 60 sqm remained at EUR 300 per

Valcea (also EUR 170 per month), Zalau (EUR

previous level of EUR 400 per month.

month from the previous quarter. In Brasov,

175), Sfantu Gheorghe (EUR 176), and Slobozia

on the other hand, landlords’ expectations for

(EUR 176).

fter the fall in the second quarter of

A bigger gain came in Bucharest, by far the

Over the same period, rents in Iasi and

most sought-after market in the rental sector,

a similar property increased slightly over the

where landlords marketing two-room apart-

period, from EUR 300 to EUR 310 per month.

ments increased their average asking price from EUR 350 to EUR 370 per month.

The lowest rents are still in Drobeta TurnuSeverin, where a two-room apartment can be

had for EUR 150 month, just like last quarter.

RENTAL PROPERTIES OUTNUMBER HOMES FOR SALE As in the first two quarters of the year, the


www.business-review.eu December Business Review | May 2016 2018

number of apartments and houses available for rent in the six major cities nationwide was significantly higher than the property available for sale; at 21,620 rental properties versus 16,540 homes for sale in the third quarter. The greatest supply of rental homes was naturally found in the biggest cities, standing at 9,900 ads (up from 9,020 in the previous three months). In Cluj-Napoca, the number of offers this type exceeds 4,000, and in Timisoara it approaches 3,000; in Iasi, Constanta and Brasov the supply is below the 2,000 threshold. In Q3, the total number of dwellings available to rent in big cities was up markedly compared to the previous quarter, with a gain of 25.6 percent. Several of the analyzed regional centers marked big growths: Cluj-Napoca (64 percent), Constanta (57.2 percent), and Iasi (43.2 percent). In Bucharest, on the other hand, the supply of rental properties was 11.2 percent higher than during the previous three months, 20 percent in Timisoara, and 8 percent in Brasov. As for fresh rental properties coming onto the market, data for the third quarter of 2018 reveal a more pronounced hike than the previous one. Against an overall increase of 33.6 percent, the most significant gains came in Cluj-Napoca (80.2 percent), Constanta (63.9 percent) and Iasi (56.6 percent). In Bucharest, on the other hand, 17.5 percent more homes came onto the market. Against the same period of 2017, the number of new rental ads was 23.4 percent higher in the third quarter of the current year. Broken down by city, Timisoara saw the greatest rise (47.9 percent) followed by Cluj-Napoca (32.6 percent), Brasov (29.6 percent), Iasi (20.6 percent), Bucharest (16.4 percent) and Constanta (11.1 percent). Given the growth of supply, players expect rents to be slightly down in the first quarter of next year, against weak demand.

Average rents for a two-room apartment in EUR/sqm City

Average rent (asking prices)

Cluj-Napoca 400 Bucharest 367 Brasov 310 Timisoara 300 Iasi 300 Sibiu 250 Tulcea 250 Targu Mures

250

Constanta 250 Ploiesti 250 Botosani 230 Craiova 222 Pitesti 220 Galati 220 Giurgiu 215 Source: imobiliare.ro

COVER RESIDENTIAL STORY 11 14


www.business-review.eu Business Review | December 2018

12 INTERVIEW

Veolia, a strategic investor in optimized resource management in Romania Madalin Mihailovici, CEO of Veolia Romania, talks about the company’s care for resources and the way it combines its local business actions with social responsibility activities, building on current topics. By Anda Sebesi What are the solutions implemented by Veolia Group to ensure a more efficient use of resources? The world must rethink its relationship with resources and come up with new social and economic growth models that are more efficient, better balanced and more sustainable. With 160 years of experience in the field of water, energy and waste, Veolia employs its capacity to innovate worldwide, in order to pursue progress and human wellbeing and to improve the economic performance of the regions where it operates. In order to make a transition from a resource-consumption rationale to a use-andrecover approach in today’s circular economy, Veolia designs and implements solutions meant to improve access to resources, while protecting and renewing the same resources. Internationally, under the brand slogan “Resourcing the World”, Veolia Group focuses on raising people’s awareness and responsibility when it comes to natural resources that are becoming increasingly scarce, as well as on reducing the environmental impact. Every year, the company collects and

What obstacles could stand in the way of this circular economy and integrated resource management? The main obstacle is the human mindset and

by banning the use of lightweight and very lightweight plastic bags, according to the EU legislation on waste (Directive (EU) 2015/720). However, it takes time for the directives to

sorts 250,000 tons of plastic which are then

behaviour. At legislative level, we have the

be translated into practice. People first need

recycled. This avoids 100,000 tons of CO2

“European strategy for plastics in a circular

information to understand why regulations

emissions per year (equivalent to the emis-

economy” adopted on January 16th, 2018,

such as that on bags provided in stores are

sions generated by 14,000 Europeans). All

proposing a change in the way plastic prod-

necessary. And with this information, they

these efforts are aligned to the Veolia Group’s

ucts are designed, manufactured, used and

must further adjust their consumption behav-

vision for the new plastic economy or circular

recycled in the EU.

iour accordingly.

economy, based on the latest technologies to

Based on this strategy, there are several

turn plastic waste into reusable raw materials.

directives in place, standardized and harmo-

mania also undertakes local measures to raise

With these innovative technologies, Veolia

nized between Member States, focusing on a

awareness among the wider public on the

more efficient use of resources.

environmental impact of our daily actions.

has set out to recycle twice as much plastic by 2025, at international level, i.e. 500,000 tons

In terms of social responsibility, Veolia Ro-

Member States must transpose these

vs. 250,000 tons now. Within this context, our

directives into domestic laws. Romania is also

local actions are meant to contribute to this

bound to do the same and, as of January 1st,

How does Veolia Romania convey this care for resources internally?

form of circular economy.

2019, it must reduce its plastic consumption

We always act to make sure that our values


www.business-review.eu Business Review | December 2018

INTERVIEW 13

are reflected in both theory and practice. We

a playful way, how oceans would look if we

that their polluting effect is long-lasting. I

thus encourage the members of our team to

continue at the current pace of irresponsible

strongly believe in what A. S. Exupery used

develop an eco-friendly spirit. For example,

plastic consumption. The diorama looks like

to say: “We do not inherit the earth from our

this year, Veolia Romania implemented an

a water tank that showcases the footprint

ancestors, we borrow it from our children!”

internal campaign called “the bag drawer”.

people leave on the environment.

And I am striving to instill this mindset in the business activities I coordinate.

It was meant as a way to attract and engage our employees in reducing plastic consump– “the bag drawer”, considering that Roma-

Why do you think it is important to educate the public on their impact on resources?

nians collect all sorts of plastic bags to reuse

Plastic consumption has increased alarmingly

What other actions relating to the optimized management of resources are you considering for the future?

them. Veolia employees were encouraged

over the past several years, significantly af-

Water quality and a functional sewerage

to donate some of the plastic bags for which

fecting the aquatic ecosystems. To reduce the

system are priority concerns for us. We aim to

they received a fabric bag and a plant. At the

negative impact, each of us can make small

constantly improve the quality of tap water

end of the first pilot phase of the campaign,

changes in our daily habits. Let’s take plastic

and the water that returns into the natural

over 70 kg of plastic bags were recycled.

bags. Reusing the bags or opting for a bag

circuit, following the wastewater treatment

made of fabric are options through which we

process. In 2019, the Veolia Group is aiming

What actions relating to efficient resource management are you developing externally?

can reduce the excess consumption of plastic.

to raise awareness of the disposal of banned

We wanted to take “the bag drawer” to the

Approximately 5,000 billion plastic residues

long-term commitment towards the envi-

next level and further enhance awareness on

float in the ocean while the livelihood of over

ronment. At group level, we are constantly

the negative effects of using plastic in excess.

3 billion people depends on water resources.

investing in research and innovation pro-

tion; this is how we arrived at the urban myth

To this end, from November 16th – December

Research shows that by 2050, the amount of waste in the oceans will exceed that of fish.

We are placing more emphasis on this mat-

waste in the sewerage system. In addition to specific actions, we have a

grams for our recycling processes and we are

16th, the Grigore Antipa National Museum

ter because it is important to understand that

actively involved in the work carried out by

of Natural History is hostsing an interactive

plastic, unlike other materials, goes through

large organizations such as the World Eco-

diorama developed by Veolia with the aim of

a lengthy degradation process that can take

nomic Forum and the World Business Council

explaining to the people, the wider public, in

from tens to hundreds of years, which means

for Sustainable Development.


14 COVER STORY

Dreamstime

www.business-review.eu Business Review | December 2018


www.business-review.eu Business Review | December 2018

COVER STORY 15

TOP 100 FOREIGN COMPANIES IN ROMANIA IN 2017 Automobile Dacia, Carrefour, Vodafone, Arctic, BCR, Blue Air, Sanofi, NN Asigurari de Viata, Ursus Breweries. What do all these brands have in common? They are some of the major companies operating on the Romanian market that have continued to thrive despite the challenges posed by the local economic environment. They are also among the top 100 foreign companies ranked by turnover in 2017, based on data provided by the National Trade Register Office (ONRC).

T

By Anda Sebesi

he cumulated turnover posted by the top ten players in the

ment. Experts warn that Romania’s economic picture is concealing

2017 ranking is RON 5.9 billion (EUR 1.3 billion)* while the

three major risks.

companies making up the top 100 had a total turnover of

Official data released in March show the national GDP recorded

RON 305.5 billion (EUR 67 billion). The automotive industry (includ-

growth of 6.9 percent in 2017 in real terms, the highest since 2008, to

ing auto parts) and production are the industries with the most

reach RON 858.3 billion (EUR 187.9 billion), from EUR 169.8 billion in

representatives in the top 100, followed by oil & gas, retail, com-

2016. Romania’s GDP last year was larger than Greece’s, estimated at

merce, telecom, heavy industry, pharma, FMCG, energy, finance and

EUR 177.7 billion, for the first time since the 1970s, and ranked 16th

transportation.

among the 28 EU member states.

About half of the names in the top 100 have their registered office

The impressive GDP growth of last year was mainly due to in-

in Bucharest (46), while Arges, Alba, Arad, Bihor, Brasov, Buzau,

creases in agricultural production, up 18.3 percent compared to 2016,

Cluj, Constanta, Dambovita, Dolj, Galati, Ialomita, Iasi, Ilfov, Mara-

the information and communications sector (10.9 percent), profes-

mures, Mures, Olt, Prahova, Salaj, Satu Mare, Sibiu, Suceava and

sional, scientific and technical activities (9.9 percent) and wholesale

Timis also host registered offices of top 100 firms.

and retail, repair of vehicles, transport, storage, hotels and restau-

Last but not least, the companies making up the top 100 employ

rants (8.2 percent). Construction was the only sector which declined

in total about 279,000 people, of whom 47 percent (about 131,000)

locally in 2017, falling by 0.6 percent compared to the previous year.

work for companies that have their registered office in Bucharest. In

“Economic growth has been broadly spread across sectors; only

such a context, it is obvious that the Romanian capital is a real pole

construction did not contribute positively. Services, especially trade,

that attracts a large number of employees, a fact also confirmed by

made the most important contribution. The impulse was given by

the latest stats from the National Institute of Statistics (INS).

the retail sector, but retail has also boosted upstream sectors, logis-

At the end of August 2018, the total number of employees in Bucharest reached 1,016,394, of whom 79 percent worked in the

tics and wholesale, for example,” Horia Braun, chief economist at BCR, told Business Review.

services sector (excluding armed forces and similar personnel), according to the INS. The average gross income in the city was RON 5,709, while the net figure was around RON 3,417 at the end of June.

… AND NOW Romania registered the fastest economic growth rate among

The National Commission for Strategy and Prognosis predicts a 4.4

the 28 European Union member states in the third quarter of this

percent growth in the number of employees in Bucharest for 2018,

year, compared with the previous quarter, of 1.9 percent, accord-

with the unemployment rate estimated at 1.4 percent. The average

ing to Eurostat, the EU’s statistical office. Romania’s gross domestic

net wage for 2018 is forecast at around RON 3,658.

product (GDP) jumped by 1.9 percent in the third quarter of this year compared with the second quarter, the fastest hike in a year, accord-

MACROECONOMICS IN 2017….

ing to an INS flash estimate released in November.

But in what macroeconomic context did the firms making up the top

In the EU, Romania was followed by Latvia (1.8 percent q/q in

100 foreign companies in Romania in 2017 develop? Romania’s gross

Q3 2018), Poland (1.7 percent) and Slovakia (1.1 percent). Compared

domestic product (GDP) grew by EUR 18 billion last year versus 2016,

with the third quarter of 2017, the Romanian economy grew by 4.3

an impressive result for the second poorest European Union member

percent in gross series, the fastest pace this year.

state. However, almost all the extra money was spent straight away

* sums are calculated at an annual average exchange rate of EUR 1 per RON

on consumer goods and services and little was invested in develop-

4.56, source: BNR


www.business-review.eu Business Review | December 2018

16 COVER STORY

Energy sector marked by offshore exploration and legislative change Oil & gas executives have been kept busy in 2018 with constant updates to Romania’s new legislation in the offshore sector that could shape investments worth billions of euros in the coming decades. The development of electrical mobility solutions is starting to catch the attention of utility firms, which have begun to steer investments into this type of infrastructure. Energy has a strong financial presence among the top 100 companies with foreign capital operating locally.

B

By Ovidiu Posirca

lack Sea gas discov-

100 firms in this category. Its

eries are set to help

average number of employees

Romania attain energy

exceeded 13,000. The company

sufficiency and reduce depen-

is jointly developing offshore

dency on imports close to zero.

exploration projects in the

Against this backdrop, Roma-

Neptun Deep block alongside

nian president Klaus Iohannis

American oil major ExxonMo-

signed into law the offshore

bil. These two companies have

draft bill following months

put around EUR 2 billion into

of heated debate in Parlia-

offshore Romania until now,

ment. The investment teams

according to Sorin Gal, presi-

of energy companies have also

dent of the National Agency for

put on hold major development

Mineral Resources (ANRM).

plans, as the first version of the

OMV Petrom’s offshore

law voted by MPs was rejected

Romania investments plans

by the president, who asked

are still unclear after the CEO

Parliament to re-examine the

of the company, Christina

draft bill.

Verchere, said that no decision

In short, the ruling coalition

on investments would be made

wanted to make sure that Ro-

this year, citing delays in the

mania gets as much gas for the

approval of the offshore law.

domestic market as possible,

“The decision to continue

alongside additional amounts

the Neptun Deep project is a

in taxes. Meanwhile, oil &

priority given its importance in

gas majors that have already

our business,” said Verchere in

invested close to EUR 3 billion in offshore exploration were looking for stable legislation and a tax

early November. The daily production of the Neptun Deep field, estimated by Exx-

structure that can become commercially viable once gas extraction

onMobil in its financial reports, is 17.8 million cubic meters, which

kicks off.

means 6.5 billion cubic meters per year, at maximum uninterrupted production, according to the Romanian Petroleum Exploration and

ENERGY COMPANIES AMONG LARGEST PLAYERS WITH FOREIGN CAPITAL IN ROMANIA

Production Companies Association (ROPEPCA).

The main energy companies looking for gas in the Black Sea are also

percent to RON 2.66 billion in the first nine months of 2018 versus

some of the largest firms with foreign capital operating in Romania.

the same period of last year. The average group realized crude price

Austrian OMV Petrom was the second biggest such company by turn-

rose 44 percent to USD 62.83 per barrel. Meanwhile, the company’s

over, with RON 14.7 billion (EUR 3.2 billion), according to data from

total hydrocarbon production fell by 5 percent to 43.9 million barrels

the National Trade Registry Office (ONRC), which provided the top

of oil equivalent (boe) in the first three quarters.

Rising oil prices saw OMV Petrom’s profits grow sharply by 44


www.business-review.eu Business Review | December 2018

Black Sea Oil & Gas is another player looking to gas in the area

COVER STORY 17 Electricity provider Tinmar Energy and CEZ Vanzare recorded

that is still pondering an investment as it considers the business

turnovers of RON 1.8 billion and RON 1.3 billion respectively. Among

implications of the new offshore law. Nonetheless, in November the

the largest utility players in Romania there is also Delgaz Grid, the

company is seeking to build the infrastructure to take the potential

supplier of natural gas, which registered a turnover of RON 1.4 bil-

gas resources onshore. It has signed a deal with Transgaz, the state-

lion.

owned operator of the gas transmission network, to book capacity.

The need for new investments in energy production capacities is

The contract covers 15 years with a first gas delivery date on Febru-

critical for the economy as old generators are put out of order. Com-

ary 1 2021 at a transmission capacity of 1 billion cubic meters yearly.

panies belonging to AmCham Romania said it takes up to five years

The second largest energy company by turnover was the refining

for an energy project to move from the planning to the generation

arm of KMG International, Rompetrol Rafinare. It recorded RON 11.1

stage. The association warned that private investments in the sector

billion (EUR 2.4 billion) in turnover and had an average of 1,061 em-

have practically ground to a halt in the past few years due to legal

ployees last year. The firm controls the Petromidia and Vega Ploiesti

provisions that hamper the financing of such projects.

refineries in Romania. For its refining operations in Petromidia, it said that production reached a historic high of 5.6 million tonnes of materials processed. The fuels division RompetromDownstream saw

WHAT THE NEW OFFSHORE LEGISLATION MEANS FOR COMPANIES

RON 8.8 billion (EUR 1.9 billion) in turnover last year.

An estimated 200 billion cubic meters (cbm) of gas could be un-

During the summer, negotiations for the sale of a 51 percent stake

earthed from the Black Sea and this figure is 50 percent sure, said

in KMG International to China Energy Company (CEFC) broke down.

the minister of energy, Anton Anton, this autumn. Considering that

Transaction talks had started at the end of 2016.

Romania’s annual consumption stands at around 11 to 12 billion

Meanwhile, Russian oil major Lukoil ranks tenth among the companies with the most foreign capital present in Romania. Last year, it recorded a turnover of RON 5.9 billion (EUR 1.29 billion) and close to 2,600 employees. The company has also tapped offshore Romania in search of gas, having invested around EUR 500 million in this process up to now, said Gal at the start of 2018. The Russian company is looking for gas in the Black Sea perimeter alongside Romanian stateowned gas producer Romgaz.

cbm, the minister added that the country should work to increase domestic consumption. “Why are we consuming so little? Because just one third of the population has access to natural gas,” said the minister in October. The new offshore law has some provisions that aim to secure jobs and natural gas production for the local economy. For instance, 50 percent of the offshore gas production has to be sold by companies on the Romanian energy stock exchange market.

ONRC data further show that Lukoil’s refining business netted

Furthermore, tax-resident Romanian citizens have to account for

RON 4.69 billion (EUR 1 billion) in turnover last year, employing 445

at least 25 percent of the average headcount of energy companies

people.

extracting gas from the Black Sea.

Another energy company in the top 100 is MOL Romania, which

The state will apply a progressive tax ranging from 30 to 70 per-

had a turnover of RON 5.46 billion (EUR 1.19 billion) and 228 em-

cent on the additional income recorded by companies from the sale

ployees. The main utility firms in Romania that are subsidiaries of

of offshore gas. The proceedings will be used by the government to

foreign players are also among the largest companies in the ranking.

extend the gas network and for investments in transport infrastruc-

French Engie, which provides gas and electricity, posted RON 5 billion in turnover, while Italian Enel is present in the top 100 with two subsidiaries selling electricity, which reported a combined turnover of RON 4.1 billion (EUR 899 million). Enel X, the advanced energy services arm of Enel, plans to install

ture. Companies will be able to deduct investments worth up to 30 percent of the additional income tax. The law has other provisions that aim to provide fiscal stability for companies extracting gas from the Black Sea. These provisions

2,500 electric charging stations across Romania in the next four

will come into force during the period in which the firms have rights

years and to spend up to EUR 15 to 20 million.

to drill for gas in certain perimeters.


www.business-review.eu Business Review | December 2018

18 COVER STORY

Automotive industry continues growth drive The two car manufacturers and suppliers of various vehicle parts employ close to 80,000 people in Romania and recorded a combined turnover of more than EUR 14 billion last year. This makes them some of the most influential players among the top 100 companies with foreign capital operating locally.

C

By Ovidiu Posirca

ar maker Automotive

tive field, German Bosch has

Dacia, controlled by

remained among the largest

France’s Renault, was

foreign players in the economy.

the largest foreign company

Bosch Automotive recorded

present in Romania last year,

a turnover of RON 1.7 billion

with a turnover of RON 23.1

(EUR 372 million) and over

billion (EUR 5 billion) and an

2,700 employees in 2017. This

average of 14,261 employees in

year, Bosch kicked off the con-

2017, according to data from the

struction of a new engineering

National Trade Registry Office

headquarters in Cluj-Napoca

(ONRC). Last year, the company

worth EUR 25 million. Car safety parts maker

made 313,883 cars, which was a 2 percent decline in output

Autoliv Romania, which has

versus 2016.

six plants in Romania, aims to reach almost 11,500 employ-

“The production dynamics

ees, according to company

from 2017 versus 2016 were

officials. Last year, the manu-

mainly due to the development of preparation stages for the manufacturing of the new Dacia Duster

facturer employed on average 9,758 people and recorded a turnover

model and the new versions of the Logan and Sandero models,” said

of RON 3.9 billion (EUR 855 million).

the Association of Car Makers in Romania (ACAROM). In the first eight months of 2018, Dacia manufactured 211,962

For all the companies in the automotive sector, the slow development pace of infrastructure remains one of the biggest challenges,

cars, up 4 percent year-on-year. Aside from the manufacturing

alongside soaring labor costs and a lack of skilled workers. Western

platform, Renault has an engineering center and a complex testing

Romania has remained the central ground for companies manufac-

facility for vehicles.

turing car plants due to more efficient routes for export. “The big

Elsewhere, American Ford, the second largest carmaker in Roma-

cities need to be connected to the western highway network. More

nia, has kicked off production of the new SUV EcoSport model. The

clever approaches are necessary in this field, like connecting Brasov

company is also making car engines in Craiova and remained the

to Sibiu instead of trying to go over the mountains,” said Continen-

largest employer in the county. In 2017, Ford had a turnover of RON

tal Automotive Romania CEO Christian von Albrichsfeld during the

4.8 billion (EUR 1 billion) and counted 3,201 employees on average,

Foreign Investors’ Summit organized by Business Review at the end

according to ONRC data. Over 61,000 people were employed last year

of October. Continental has 19,700 employees in Romania, and has

by car parts sup-

invested EUR

pliers working

1.4 billion in 10

with the two car

locations. Some

manufacturers.

5,700 people

With two

are engineers

manufactur-

working in R&D,

ing plants and a

and the rest are

research & devel-

active in the

opment center

manufacturing

in the automo-

field.


www.business-review.eu Business Review | December 2018

COVER STORY 19

Retailers bank on rural expansion Much of Romania’s economic expansion is the product of a consumer bonanza, stimulated by years of government policy promoting wage-led growth. By Anda Sebesi

O

fficial data show that

Metro extended its La Doi Pasi

household consumer

retail chain.

expenditure, the index

Last year, for the second

measuring what people spend

year in a row, Profi was leader

on goods and services to meet

when it came to national ex-

their needs and wants, rose 10.2

pansion, with about 200

in 2017 on the previous year.

new stores opening (all store

The Romanian consumer

formats but mainly Profi Loco).

market increased by more than

In addition, it is ranked first by

EUR 10 billion in 2017, to EUR

the number of stores, followed

114.5 billion, due mainly to

by Mega Image and Carrefour

higher wages paid by employ-

(which integrated the Billa

ers. The total wage bill rose

retail chain last year).

from EUR 57.7 billion in 2016 to a record level of EUR 67.7 billion in 2017, according to

As for 2018, Euler Hermes tips proximity and expansion in rural areas as two of the

Eurostat data. “We also had an increase in investment last year, but

main trends in the sector. Retailers are focusing on towns with pop-

only on the private investment side, coupled with an advance in

ulations of fewer than 15,000 citizens while adjusting their formats.

credit for investment purposes. There was a spike in activity on the

In addition, players that had focused on Bucharest, where modern

residential building side,” Horia Braun, chief economist at BCR, told

retail accounts for about 70 percent of the total market, have become

Business Review.

interested in other cities (for example Mega Image is interested

According to ONRC data, last year Kaufland, Carrefour, Lild

in Cluj-Napoca and Timisoara). According to the same source, the

Discount, Auchan, Mega Image, Profi Rom Food, Metro Cash&Carry,

expansion continued this year too, with Profi aiming to reach 1,000

Selgros Cash & Carry, Rewe and Artima posted a cumulated turn-

stores and Kaufland 10 new ones by the end of this year.

over of RON 50.99 billion (EUR 12.27 billion)* with the help of about

The affordable premium concept has gained ground in Romania,

74,000 workers (26.5 percent of the total number of employees of the

too. Retailers’ private labels – which now contribute over 10 percent

top 100 foreign companies ranked by turnover in 2017).

to discount stores’ business – still have room to grow, as they repre-

According to credit insurance company Euler Hermes, the value of the local modern retail market is estimated at EUR 17-20 billion.

sent one third of discounters’ total sales in Western countries. From the real estate perspective, real estate consultancy com-

The firm says that retailers’ territorial expansion – with over 350 new

pany CBRE says that 367,000 sqm is currently under construction

stores opened in 2017, the majority of them being in rural areas – was

on the local retail market, which will be delivered this year and in

one of the things that boosted the retail sector last year. According to

2019. At present the modern retail stock stands at 3.52 million sqm,

the same analysis, retailers banked on discount formats and proxim-

of which 59 percent is in shopping centers and 41 percent in retail

ity stores in 2017, focusing on getting close to their customers. For

parks. It comprises projects in cities like Bucharest, Constanta,

example, Mega

Cluj-Napoca, Iasi,

Image expanded

Timisoara, Oradea,

outside Bucharest,

Brasov, Ploiesti,

Carrefour extended

Suceava, Craiova

its Carrefour

and Pitesti.

Market concept,

* sums are calculated

Auchan imple-

at an annual average

mented its My

exchange rate of

Auchan stores in

EUR 1 per RON 4.56,

gas stations while

source: BNR


www.business-review.eu Business Review | December 2018

20 COVER STORY

Financial players push ahead on growth market Some of the biggest companies with foreign capital operating in Romania are found in the banking and insurance industries, posting higher financial results on the back of an expanding economy. By Ovidiu Posirca

I

Elsewhere, BRD, the lender

n 2017, the banking sector registered the biggest profit

controlled by French Groupe

since the financial crisis,

Societe Generale, recorded

around RON 427.8 billion (EUR

a turnover of RON 1.7 billion

1.2 billion), due to increased

(EUR 372 million) and reached

demand for loans. Lenders’

close to 7,000 employees,

assets also rose to a new high of

while Austrian Raiffeisen Bank

EUR 94 billion, while the return

had a turnover of RON 1.27

on equity (ROE) stood at 12.51

billion (EUR 278 million) and

percent. By June 2018, assets

5,219 employees in 2017, ac-

had expanded to RON 434.6

cording to ONRC data. One of the biggest changes

billion (EUR 93.6 billion), while the return of equity improved

to impact the banking sector

to 15.71 percent, according to

this year was the approval of

data from the National Bank of

new indebtedness limits on

Romania (BNR).

loans granted to individuals. The new raft of measures ap-

BANKS TO OPERATE UNDER NEW INDEBTEDNESS LIMITS FOR INDIVIDUALS

proved by the BNR will kick in in 2019.

Among the top 100 companies with foreign capital present in Ro-

INSURANCE GROWTH SECURED BY LIFE SEGMENT

mania are three banks ranked by their turnover from 2017. BCR, the

The insurance industry continued to grow in 2017. The amount of

lender controlled by Austrian Erste Bank, posted a turnover of RON

gross written premiums rose by 3.5 percent year-on-year to RON 9.7

2 billion and had on average 6,077 employees last year, according to

billion (EUR 2.12 billion), mainly due to the consolidation of the life

data provided by the National Trade Registry Office (ONRC).

insurance segment, according to the Financial Supervision Author-

This summer, BCR was overtaken in the ranking of the biggest banks in Romania by Banca Transilvania, which climbed to first place

ity (ASF). “While between 2012 and 2014 life insurance activity was falling

based on assets. While BCR’s assets reached RON 70.2 billion (EUR 15

from the perspective of gross written premium volumes, in 2015 it

billion) in the first semester of 2018, BT’s assets came to RON 75.3 bil-

resumed growth and in 2017 the growth was due to the life insur-

lion (EUR 16.1 billion) following the acquisition of Bancpost. BT also

ance segment,” said the ASF. The market was dominated by the gen-

fared better than BCR in terms of profits, with RON 865 million (EUR

eral insurance segment with RON 7.6 billion (EUR 1.6 billion) in gross

185.6 million) versus RON 697 million (EUR 149.5 million).

written premiums, while the rest went to the life segment last year.

TOP 5 FINANCIAL COMPANIES IN 2017 Position Company

Sector

Turnover (RON/bln)

1

BCR

Other activities of monetary intermediation

2

2

BRD – Groupe Societe Generale

Other activities of monetary intermediation

1.7

3.

Allianz – Tiriac Asigurari

Other insurance activities (except life insurance)

1.4

4.

Groupama Asigurari

Other insurance activities (except life insurance)

1.4

5.

Raiffeisen Bank

Other activities of monetary intermediation

1.27

Source: ONRC


www.business-review.eu Business Review | December 2018

COVER STORY 21

TOP 100 FOREIGN COMPANIES ACTIVE IN ROMANIA RANKED BY TURNOVER IN 2017 Rank

Company

Sector

Turnover (RON)

Average number of employees

1

Automobile Dacia SA

Car manufacturing

23,143,498,839

14,261

2

OMV Petrom SA

Extraction of crude oil

14,764,836,448

13,322

3

Rompetrol Rafinare SA

Manufacturing of

petroleum products 11,192,755,314 1,061 4

Kaufland Romania SCS

Retail

5

Rompetrol Downstream SRL

Wholesale of fuels for motor

10,086,636,311

13,519

vehicles in specialized stores

8,873,204,128

561

6

British American Tobacco

Romania Trading SRL

Wholesale of tobacco products

8,870,586,009

679

7

Star Assembly SRL

Manufacturing of car parts

7,328,061,605

1,811

8

Carrefour Romania SA

Retail

6,748,911,268

9,939

9

Lidl Discount SRL

Retail

6,510,008,485

4,815

10

Lukoil Romania SRL

Wholesale of fuels for motor 5,922,290,967

2,599

11

vehicles in specialized stores

Mol Romania Petroleum Products SRL Wholesale of fuels for motor

vehicles in specialized stores

5,469,740,835

228

12

Orange Romania SA

Telecommunications

5,364,891,173

2,361

13

Auchan Romania SA

Retail

5,223,286,301

9,290

14

Engie Romania SA

Commercialization of gas

fuels through pipelines 5,069,546,912 618 15

Mega Image SRL

Retail

4,910,452,187

9,313

16

Ford Romania SA

Car manufacturing

4,824,809,466

3,201

17

Profi Rom Food SRL

Retail

4,730,021,461

11,662

18

Metro Cash&Carry Romania SRL

Retail

4,729,779,600

3,908

19

Petrotel Lukoil SA

Manufacturing of crude oil products

4,697,167,886

445

20

Arcelormittal Galati SA

4,661,907,896

5,682

Manufacturing of ferrous metals

in primary forms and ferro-alloys

21

Wholesale trade of electronic

Samsung Electronics Romania SRL

components and telecommunications 4,227,369,794

190

22

Autoliv Romania SRL

Manufacturing of car parts

3,921,743,766

9,758

23

Mediplus Exim SRL

Wholesale of pharmaceuticals

3,888,023,746

1,002

24

Vodafone Romania SA

Telecommunications

3,653,902,366

2,508

25

Selgros Cash&Carry SRL

Retail

3,645,073,094

4,341

26

RCS & RDS SA

Telecommunication activities

via cable networks 3,339,403,562 11,703 27

Dante International SA

Wholesale trade of articles

and household appliances in specialized stores 3,309,942,013 1,990 28

Continental Automotive Products SRL Manufacturing of tires and chambers;

rebuilding and restoring tires 3,130,805,436 2,423 29

Renault Commercial Roumanie SRL

Trade of cars and light vehicles

3,067,956,220

171

30

Rewe (Romania) SRL

Retail

2,996,698,015

4,190

31

Ameropa Grains SA

Wholesale trade of grain, seed,

forage and unprocessed tobacco

2,961,385,659

0

32

Farmexpert DCI SRL

Wholesale of pharmaceuticals

2,954,723,113

959

33

Porsche Romania SRL

Trade of cars and light vehicles

2,904,687,484

144

Source: National Trade Register Office (ONRC)


www.business-review.eu Business Review | December 2018

22 COVER STORY

TOP 100 FOREIGN COMPANIES ACTIVE IN ROMANIA RANKED BY TURNOVER IN 2017 Rank

Company

Sector

34

ADM Romania Trading SRL

Wholesale trade of grain, seed,

Turnover (RON)

Average number of employees

forage and unprocessed tobacco

2,901,474,202

67

35

Hella Romania SRL

Manufacturing of car parts

2,735,581,988

3,684

36

Cofco International Romania SRL

Wholesale trade of grain, seed, 2,598,601,895

67

forage and unprocessed tobacco

37

Manufacturing of tires and chambers;

Michelin Romania SA

rebuilding and restoring tires 2,564,597,480 3,282 38

Alro SA

Aluminum metallurgy

2,480,775,721

2,501

39

Philip Morris Trading SRL

Wholesale of tobacco products

2,378,469,259

233

40

Robert Bosch SRL

Manufacturing of car parts

2,285,588,976

2,491

41

Cargill Agricultura SRL

Wholesale trade of grain, seed, 2,284,158,302

159

forage and unprocessed tobacco

42

Manufacturing of tires and chambers;

Pirelli Tyres Romania SRL

rebuilding and restoring tires 2,255,260,255 3,053 43

Coca-Cola HBC Romania SRL

Manufacturing of non-alcoholic

beverages, mineral and other bottled waters 2,218,998,534 1,476 44

Arctic SA

Manufacturing of home appliances

2,217,159,118

2,822

45

Enel Energie Muntenia SA

Electricity trading

2,134,172,210

223

46

Mercedes Benz Romania SRL

Trade of cars and light vehicles

2,078,419,089

239

47

Delphi Diesel Systems Romania SRL

Manufacturing of car parts

2,075,725,930

2,011

48

Oscar Downstream SRL

Wholesale of solid, liquid and gaseous

fuels and derived products 2,048,715,688 424 49

Banca Comerciala Romana SA

Banking & finance

2,043,746,336

6,077

50

Enel Energie SA

Electricity trading

2,008,643,340

220

51

Schaeffler Romania SRL

Manufacturing of car parts

1,981,310,236

4,366

52

Farmexim SA

Wholesale of pharmaceuticals

1,965,596,477

794

53

Blue Air Aviation SA

Passenger air transport

1,919,817,947

1,240

54

Tinmar Energy SA

Electricity trading

1,813,979,308

57

55

Silcotub SA

Manufacturing of steel tubes, pipes,

hollow profiles and fittings

1,785,980,667

1,723

56

Romania Hypermarche SA

Retail

1,772,976,330

3,951

57

Bosch Automotive SRL

Manufacturing of car parts

1,772,494,278

2,718

58

Holzindustrie Schweighofer SRL

Wood processing

1,769,381,279

1,945

59

Glencore Agriculture Romania SRL

Wholesale trade of grain, seed,

forage and unprocessed tobacco 1,745,092,057 53 60

BRD Groupe Societe Generale

Banking and finance

1,734,966,558

6,930

61

Bunge Romania SRL

Manufacturing of oils and greases

1,726,232,067

313

62

Ursus Breweries SA

Manufacturing of brewing beer

63

Coficab Eastern Europe SRL

Manufacturing of other electric

and electronic wires and cables

64

Manufacturing of veneers

Egger Romania SRL

1,705,841,267

1,651,014,446

419

and wood panels 1,536,948,231 730 65

Marquardt Schaltsysteme

Manufacturing of other electric

equipment 1,520,950,512 2,874 66

Yazaki Romania SRL

Source: National Trade Register Office (ONRC)

Manufacturing of car parts

1,497,007,378

10,052

1,443


www.business-review.eu Business Review | December 2018

COVER STORY 23

TOP 100 FOREIGN COMPANIES ACTIVE IN ROMANIA RANKED BY TURNOVER IN 2017 Rank

Company

Sector

67

Delgaz Grid SA

Distribution of gaseous fuels

Turnover (RON)

Average number of employees

through pipelines 1,487,774,196 3,946 68

Procter and Gamble Distribution SRL

Wholesale of other

household goods 1,469,749,224 46 69 Artima SA Retail 1,453,119,130 2,986 70

Allianz Tiriac Asigurari SA

Insurance

71

Azomures SA

Manufacturing of nitrate

1,448,189,040

1,331

and nitrite products 1,447,333,215 1,252 72

Aptiv Technology Services & Solutions SRL Manufacturing of car parts

1,427,653,123

4,909

73

Groupama Asigurari SA

74

Lear Corporation Romania SRL

Insurance

1,412,297,695

1,503

Manufacturing of car parts

1,376,246,816

75

6,232

CEZ Vanzare SA

Energy trading

1,351,980,176

76

55

Huawei Technologies SRL

Wholesale trade of electronic

components and telecommunications 1,347,363,735 1,352 77

TRW Automotive Safety Systems SRL

Manufacturing of car parts

1,304,908,521

2,974

78

Raiffeisen Bank SA

Banking and finance

1,270,361,109

5,219

79

Autonet Import SRL

Wholesale of parts and accessories

for motor vehicles 1,268,948,301 1,344 80

Columbus Operational SRL

Retail

1,257,024,008

2,987

81

Adient Automotive Romania SRL

Manufacturing of car parts

1,253,325,316

4,546

82

Tiriac Auto SRL

Trade of cars and light vehicles

1,245,262,139

985

83

Heineken Romania SA

Manufacturing of brewing beer

1,160,229,860

1,157

84

Celestica (Romania) SRL

Manufacturing of computers

and peripheral equipment 1,149,043,844 1,240 85

Smithfield Prod SRL

Meat processing

1,139,904,838

1,081

86

Omniasig VIG SA

Insurance

1,134,400,962

1,167

87

Expur SA

Manufacturing of oils and greases

1,132,742,748

443

88

Porsche Inter Auto Romania SRL

Trade of cars and light vehicles

1,113,890,284

474

89

Sanofi Romania SRL

Wholesale of pharmaceuticals

1,101,172,456

170

90

JT International Romania SRL

Wholesale of tobacco products

1,086,551,930

686

91

Eaton Electro Productie SRL

Manufacturing of electricity

distribution and control equipment 1,077,701,832 2,162 92

Cameron Romania SRL

Manufacturing of extractive

and construction equipment

93

Manufacturing of steel tubes,

TMK Artrom SA

94

pipes, hollow profiles and fittings

1, 069,839,527

1,112

1,065,470,332

1,324

Euroins Romania

Asigurare Reasigurare SA Insurance 1,055,400,781 603 95

Holcim Romania SA

Manufacturing of cement

1,051,272,937

755

96

Webasto Romania SRL

Manufacturing of car parts

1,049,131,163

1,167

97

Toyota Romania SRL

Trade of cars and light vehicles

1,032,633,778

59

98

Oracle Romania SRL

Software development

1,029,332,399

4,142

99

NN Asigurari de Viata SA

Life insurance

992,602,805

405

100

Daewoo Mangalia Heavy Industries SA Shipbuilding and floating structures

988,608,575

1,988

Source: National Trade Register Office (ONRC)


www.business-review.eu Business Review | December 2018

24 MONEY

Romanians get richer but urban/rural divide yawns wider Romanians have accumulated a lot of wealth during the past two decades as economic growth, investment and EU funds have spurred wage increases and welfare across the country, but the income gap between major cities and rural areas is now larger than ever. Experts say that the future wealth of the nation depends on the development of the large cities. By Sorin Melenciuc

W

Dreamstime

ealth has been associated with cities since the dawn of human civilization. The wealthy citizens

of ancient Mesopotamia or Egypt dwelt in the metropolises of that time – and wealth accumulation allowed powerful leaders from the past to build architectural marvels, or sponsor art and literature. But behind these affluent leaders, millions of poor people worked hard to provide their daily bread – and this was the norm for most of our history. Two centuries ago, industrialization changed everything in Europe and in other parts of the world, and a major effect of the industrial age was large-scale and fast urbanization. In the 17th century, most people in Europe

Romanians are maybe for the first time in history wealthier than almost all neighboring nations

were still living in villages and were dependent on crops – and the weather – for their

although another part, largely rural, has re-

(or USD 42,282 per adult) in 2018 based on

food and livelihoods.

mained cut off from this economic revolution.

national household balance sheets (HBS) or

Now, most people live in big cities and

household surveys.

depend largely on their education and job

GETTING RICH QUICK

market trends to live better or worse.

Although its rural areas lag behind, Roma-

correlated variables, Romania’s total wealth is

nians are now, maybe for the first time in

considered much smaller – of USD 317 billion

the 19th century and experienced only a par-

history, wealthier than almost all neighboring

(or USD 20,321 per adult).

tial industrial revolution during the 20th cen-

nations, according to a recent Credit Suisse

tury. The consequence is that its urbanization

report.

Romania missed the industrialization of

is incomplete as almost half of the population

But by “regression estimates” using likely

There are huge differences between Romanians’ affluence, according to the study. Some

In 2018, the wealth per adult in Romania is

62 percent of Romanian adults hold less than

estimated at USD 42,282, compared with USD

USD 10,000 in assets (financial or non-finan-

41,118 in Hungary, USD 30,224 in Bulgaria,

cial), while 35.4 percent own between USD

history to be a step towards a new type of

USD 19,582 in Serbia, USD 5,204 in Ukraine

10,000 and USD 100,000, and only 2.5 percent

economy – a third wave based on information

and USD 3,837 in Moldova, Credit Suisse’s

between USD 100,000 and USD 1 million.

and digital activities.

Global Wealth 2018 report indicates.

still live in rural areas. But industrialization proved throughout

Romania entered this third wave much

However, Romanians remain much poorer

Just 0.1 percent of Romanians are wealthy enough to own assets of more than USD 1 mil-

sooner than it entered the second wave, as

than their Western European counterparts

it benefited from its young, technically edu-

like the Britons (USD 314,842 per adult),

cated urbanites.

French (USD 281,339), and Germans (USD

over the last two decades, but started out

250,856). Credit Suisse analysts say Romanian

from a very low base.

The result was a rapid connection of part of Romania to the latest technological trends,

adults have a total wealth of USD 659 billion

lion, according to Credit Suisse. Romania has posted breakneck growth

In 2000, Romania had wealth per adult


www.business-review.eu Business Review | December 2018

MONEY 25

of only USD 3,300, much lower than that of

for filling the secondary city gap, so they are

Bank indicates that human capital accounts

Hungary (USD 11,882) or even Georgia (USD

likely to be very attractive places for migrants

for 50.5 percent of Romania’s total wealth,

4,494), as widespread poverty and corruption

in the future. Whether these two cities man-

being much more important than natural or

were the norm.

age to keep their leadership position also

produced capital.

The same study indicates that Romania

depends on how well they are managed, not

has 19,000 inhabitants belonging to the 1 per-

only on pure market dynamics,” World Bank

of USD 107,022 per inhabitant in 2014, the

cent of wealthiest people in the world.

experts say.

second-lowest among the 28 European Union

Romania has 16,000 millionaires, 443,000

According to economists, development

The study found Romania had total wealth

member states, after Bulgaria (USD 81,878).

individuals belonging to the world’s 10 per-

spills over from the most dynamic cities to

Out of the total wealth in Romania, human

cent of richest people in the world and 19,000

the surrounding areas, and this is a key dy-

capital accounted for USD 54,014 per inhabit-

among the richest 1 percent of people on the

namic of the development process.

ant (50.5 percent), while produced capital

planet.

“Without strong cities, one cannot have

stood at USD 41,163 (38.5 percent) and natural

strong regions or a strong national economy,”

capital, USD 17,265. Net foreign assets have a

World Bank experts argue.

negative contribution, of -USD 5,420/inhabit-

BIG CITIES POWER WEALTH Many experts associate wealth with the economic health of big cities – and this correlation gives Romania a lot of opportunities in the future. According to the World Bank, Romania’s growth rate between 1992 and 2016 was 1 percentage point higher than the average for upper middle-income countries and more than three times the rate of the EU and developed countries. And compared with the rest of the world, the result was notable. “Most impressively, Romania managed

Studies show that the eight largest cities

to catch up with the economies of Brazil and

in Romania – Bucharest, Cluj, Timisoara, Iasi,

Mexico, which in 1992 had a GNI per capita

Constanta, Brasov, Craiova and Ploiesti – are

countries are based on wage regressions used

that was 3 respectively 4 times as high as

home to around 22 percent of the population

to compute expected earnings for individu-

that of Romania,” stated the Magnet Cities:

and generate around 53 percent of the coun-

als over their lifetimes by gender, age, and

Migration and Commuting in Romania report

try’s gross domestic product (GDP).

education level.

recently released by the World Bank.

“When looking at the larger area of

ant. Estimates of the human capital wealth of

The natural capital of Romania is com-

influence of the eight growth poles (in this

posed of forests (USD 1,950/inhabitant),

during the last two decades, Romania still

case, the one-hour driving areas around the

protected areas (USD 3,248), cropland (USD

lags behind its main economic rivals in the

growth poles), the strength of these urban

5,459), pastureland (USD 5,070) and subsoil

region.

centers becomes even more evident. Thus,

assets (USD 1,899), World Bank’s experts say.

But despite its strong economic growth

“Currently, Romania has a 7-10 year devel-

the areas in the map below, amass around 50

According to the study, wealthy nations

opment lag over other Central and Eastern

percent of Romania’s population and generate

are not necessarily those with huge natural

European countries like Poland, Slovakia,

around 75 percent of firm revenues in Roma-

resources, but those with high human capital.

Hungary, or the Czech Republic and a 35-year

nia,” the study found.

development lag over OECD counties,” the report says. According to experts, Romania will not be able to bridge this gap without strong and

Experts point out that these are some of Romania’s main economic growth engines,

inhabitant), is among the richest in the world

and Romania is in this respect no different

– with total wealth of USD 1.466 million/in-

from all the other EU countries.

habitant – due to its very high human capital

competitive cities. “All things being equal, it is likely that Bu-

In Europe, a country with half the natural capital of Romania, Switzerland (USD 8,531/

(USD 1.022 million/inhabitant).

HUMAN CAPITAL

Romania is globally considered an upper-

charest will remain the most attractive place

World Bank experts also point to a different

middle-income country, having a similar level

for migrants in the future. (…) Cluj-Napoca

perspective on wealth. The Changing Wealth

of total wealth to China (USD 108,172/inhabit-

and Timisoara are likely to be the runners-up

of Nations 2018 study published by the World

ant) or Mexico (USD 110,471).


www.business-review.eu Business Review | December 2018

26 ENTREPRENEURS

Eye on the ball: Blink founders raise USD 5 million to overtake blockchain Andrei Grigorean and Mihai Ciucu, the two founders of Blink. network, convinced Polychain Capital and Polkadot Ventures along with smaller investors from America and Europe to pledge USD 5 million to help them develop an alternative to blockchain. Their prototype is being developed under a protocol called Blink, using DAG-chain structure. BR talked to the two young entrepreneurs and found out how they managed to raise the money and what’s next for their prototype. By Ioana Erdei

ABOUT MIHAI CIUCU CEO & CO-FOUNDER Mihai is the CEO/co-founder of Blink and the creator of the protocol. Prior to Blink and CS Academy, Mihai worked as a software engineer at Full Tilt Poker. In 2009 he build the world’s best Texas Hold’em Poker AI. Mihai is leading Blink’s development efforts. ANDREI GRIGOREAN COO & CO-FOUNDER Andrei is the COO/co-founder of Blink. A Forbes Romania 30 under 30 winner and ex-Googler, Andrei also has a vast experience with algorithms and data structures. He is an International Olympiad in Informatics silver medalist.

supports three transactions per second on average across the world – even Mega Image probably has more than that in Bucharest! The second problem with blockchain is the confirmation time – if you’ve made a transaction, how long do you have to wait to make sure it’s confirmed by the system and accepted by all the computers in the network?

So what is new with your technology? How is it better than blockchain? Our prototype supports 20,000 transactions Photo: Mihai Constantineanu

per second and the time it takes for the first confirmation – which for bitcoin is 10 minutes and it’s actually recommended that you wait about an hour for the final confirmation – is under one second and we believe final confirmation usually comes after 20-30 seconds. So, From left to right: Andrei Grigorean and Mihai Ciucu, Blink.network

in short, we solve the same problem, but our performance is much better.

What do you do?

difficulty is in addressing all the challenges

What’s it called?

We solve a problem. We’ve found an extreme-

resulting from the decentralized nature of the

The protocol is called Blink, the same as the

ly scalable solution to a general problem – dis-

network because there’s no one to coordi-

company name, and the structure we use

tributed ledger technologies (DLT), a general

nate the network activity. You have said it’s

instead of blockchain is called DAG-chain.

theoretical problem that needs to be solved.

a better alternative to blockchain. Block-

It’s basically a database which exists in a peer-

chain is simply one solution – it was the first

So it can be used in any industry?

to-peer computer network that essentially

functional solution to the theoretical problem

Yes, but for most industries even our 7,000x

anyone can access. Every node (computer)

of implementing a DLT. Blockchain as it is

performance compared to blockchain is still

holds a complete copy of that database. The

used with bitcoin is very limited. Bitcoin only

not enough.


www.business-review.eu Business Review | December 2018

ENTREPRENEURS 27

Which industries could optimally adopt your technologies right now?

Not really. Most of the other cryptocurren-

recommendations – I can’t say any more than

cies are nothing more than other versions of

that they came from very well-known and

This is a question everyone is asking in the

blockchain. Blockchain itself has some theo-

competent people in the crypto world (not

crypto world. We’re also trying to find com-

retical limitations. The goal is to solve the DLT

Romanians). We sent them e-mails and they

mercial partners who might need our technol-

problem – blockchain is a solution and many

looked at our whitepaper and thought we had

ogy. We’re caught between two extremes – on

companies focus on optimizing that solution,

a good idea. That’s how we found success.

the one hand, there are processes that need

and growing blockchain’s performances. But

much less than we offer, and on the other

we found a completely different solution and

know that in order to be successful, you can’t

hand there are others that need a much better

no matter how much those other companies

go through the front door. That doesn’t mean

performance than we can offer. For example,

try to optimize blockchain, they’ll never be

you need to have connections – in Roma-

Google Search needs a much better perfor-

able to reach our performance.

nia it’s all either through the front door or through connections. There are trustworthy

mance – its need to store data is much higher than any DLT can ever offer.

How did you end up developing this solution?

I think readers would be interested to

How long did it take you to develop your technology from the moment you realized what the issue was?

individuals who have the time to do their due diligence and recommend you – and that’s how we reached big investors.

We’re still working on the product, but we

After we got these recommendations

Our background is actually not in blockchain

found the theoretical solution quickly, in a

we saw a big difference in the way we were

or crypto, but algorithms and data structures.

few days. Now we’re at the point where we

treated.

Before Blink, we were developing a competi-

have a functional prototype; we started work-

tive programming platform called CSAcad-

ing on it in December last year. But we still

emy.com where we used to hold weekly

have to make it more secure. It’s not secure

programming competitions. We would have a

enough for us to launch it.

set of problems and users all across the world

You went to the US and pitched your idea.

How much money did you raise and who did it come from? We raised around USD 5 million, mainly from

would solve them. Then, Mihai was invited to

Did you try to do it in Romania too and were

Polychain Capital and Polkadot Ventures,

a crypto conference last year and that’s how

unsuccessful or did you go straight to the US?

plus seven or eight smaller investors – not all

he started to learn what blockchain actually

The first time we went to the US was in

investment funds, two or three were individu-

does. We were all aware of bitcoin and I even

March and we spent three weeks there. We

als, American and European. We met with

had a little bitcoin of my own (but I didn’t

didn’t have a clear plan, we just bought plane

them in the US, not in Romania.

make any profit from it). At the conference,

tickets on the spot and went to San Francisco

when he found out more and understood

and thought we’d see what was happening

what a DLT was, he thought since we already

there because that seemed to be the place

What’s the next step now that you’ve managed to raise this money?

know about algorithms and data structures,

where you could find serious investors. It was

We have to complete our implementation of

it seemed like the kind of problem we could

our first contact with the US – it wasn’t for

the protocol, our version of blockchain.

work on.

nothing, but it wasn’t a big success in terms of fundraising, either. A few leads have material-

Why is your solution revolutionary? Has nobody else developed an optimized version of blockchain at the level you did?

ized since then. When we came back to Romania, we managed to reach large investors through

How do you plan to raise awareness about it? How long will it take you to finish implementation? We hope we’ll finish within the next six


www.business-review.eu Business Review | December 2018

28 ENTREPRENEURS

months. Then we’ll also have to figure out ex-

but Mihai was one year ahead of me. Actually,

actly what the product’s direction will be – we

most Olympiad participants know each other

How long did Mihai spend at Full Tilt Poker, and when did he get back to Romania?

basically have a high performance technology

since there aren’t that many of us in one gen-

I’m not sure how long he spent there. We

but from that to developing a product and,

eration. Mihai got the silver in the Balkaniad

reconnected around 2012, when he took part

eventually, a company, a few more steps are

(?) and I got the silver in the International

in a contest and I was part of the committee.

required.

Olympiad.

The contest was also related to programming

We’re also working to find the product’s

After the Olympiad, Mihai went to work for

and algorithms. He had returned to Romania

direction from a business development stand-

Full Tilt Poker in Ireland. He studied Comput-

and I think he entered the contest for fun –

point.

er Science and Mathematics at the Bucharest

and won. I was surprised to see him there; I

University. I am a college drop-out – I went to

thought he was still in Ireland.

What’s the general view you have of your product right now?

the same university and left in year two. I’m not sure why. Looking back, if I could go back

What does CS Academy do?

There are two main directions, both of which

in time and give myself some advice, I would

It’s conceived as a recruitment platform for

involve several different aspects. The first

tell myself to finish university.

software engineers worldwide, based on

would be doing a public implementation, a network similar to blockchain on which you

weekly contests. We didn’t manage to take

private decentralized database solutions that

Why? It seems like more of a personal responsibility thing, not something related to professional development, since you’ve been very successful despite not graduating.

we could personalize and sell. When several

Yes, that’s prob-

legal entities transfer assets to each other and

ably true. But

don’t trust each other, there is a problem. For

you never know

example, when banks make international

when you’ll

transfers, they have this kind of problem – a

need that diplo-

bank in China will certainly not trust a bank

ma. There’s a lot

in the US and vice versa, but they still have

of bureaucracy

to send money to each other. A decentralized

both here and in

database solves this problem of lack of trust.

the US, both in

Another example: supply chains – when you

the public sector

want to keep track of stuff, there are different

as well as in the

entities interacting with each other and you’d

corporate world.

need a database where each entity can track

It’s a risk I took in a very stupid way.

can develop things like cryptocurrencies or smart contracts, for example – an infrastructure to develop decentralized apps. The second idea would be to develop

the process.

Even so, you ended up doing what the university would have taught you to do.

Do your US/European investors all have the same vision for what you’re about to launch? Which version of your product do they prefer?

I’ve been very focused on algorithms and

it too far because the Blink project came up and we thought it was much better for us. It grew organically. At the end of last year, we

were trying to find some partners in the US to help us connect with US-based companies. We already had a great database of engineers. We didn’t end up speaking with any investor,

data structures. I’ve taught many students

but we’ve seen some interest in the Academy

who have participated in the Olympiad.

recently, while we were already working on Blink. We might try to work on both of them, but the main focus right now is Blink. We’re

exception, and the European investor is on

So can you say that this was your first job? Tutoring others?

board with what the US investors want to do.

Yes. I’ve never been employed except for two

body else because we can’t spend time on it at

internships at Google during university, in

the moment.

All our investors are from the US with just one

I don’t think there’s necessarily a consen-

also trying to hand CS Academy off to some-

sus among all investors about what we should

the California headquarters. Then I decided

do, but I’m more inclined to think they prefer

I wanted to spend at least the next few years

the first version, the public network.

in Romania. I didn’t like Silicon Valley at the

Do you think there are other people who can plan the contests?

time. I’m not sure why. I think it was my age

Not in Romania. We’re trying to find people

Tell us more about the two of you. How old are you, what did you study, where did you start?

and the pace of things and lifestyle there were

abroad to hand the project off.

better place for me – but it’s still not ideal. It

Have you opened an office in the US?

We’re both 30 years old. We met at a comput-

would just be easier to live there now than

We are going to open it soon, in San Fran-

er science contest (Olympiad) in high school,

when I was 20 years old.

cisco. It depends on how long it takes for me

not my cup of tea. Now, at 30, I think it’s a


www.business-review.eu Business Review | December 2018

ENTREPRENEURS 29

to obtain the visa (O1 visa) – related to special

The crypto world currently has a big problem:

transaction. So any type of transaction that’s

skills.

there aren’t any use cases besides the cryp-

below a certain value is not viable due to

tocurrency market. It’s like a closed circuit

these fees. That’s the reason why there aren’t

How do you see your expansion in the future? Are you planning to only use the USD 5 million or do you intend to raise more money?

where on one hand you have some cryptocur-

any micro-transactions.

built on the crypto networks that also work

Do you think you could develop microtransactions?

For now we’re not looking to raise any more

with the crypto world. The link between the

This is one of the main things we want to

money; we’ve only just completed this round.

crypto world and the rest of the economy is

focus on. Our platform is strong enough

Everything depends on how we’re going to

very weak – it’s like a bubble.

to support these micro-transactions. Visa,

build a product around the technology, how quickly we do it. If the product is promising, we’ll need another fundraising round to develop it.

rencies that nobody uses to buy real-world goods, and on the other hand there are apps

This is the challenge – to bring the crypto world to the masses. We’re also thinking of creating our own cryptocurrency, but I don’t think we’d be able

for example, has an average of about 4,000 transactions per second and its peak was around 56,000 at one point. We are currently able to support 20,000 and with the help of better hardware we could reach 50,000,

Do current investors own a part of the product or is it still fully yours? How is the investment structured?

and there are also other ways we can improve.

investment round,

How long do you think it will take to at least finalize these goals, and perhaps later pitch or reveal them to the world?

where it’s clear – you

I think we have a

pay a certain amount

number of very

of money and get a

different goals

certain number of

with very different

shares. For a seed

expectations. For

round, it’s like a loan

example, we need to

that will convert

finish work on our

It’s a little more complicated. We’ve essentially gone through a seed round, not a regular

into shares in the

protocol and techni-

next investment round (by the same or other

to compete with traditional currency – when

cally complete our DLT. That’s our first goal,

investors) – that will be a Series A round.

you create a currency, you have to compete

before we manage to integrate micro-trans-

with the dollar, euro and yen, and I don’t

actions between various global platforms.

Have any investors rejected your proposals?

think this is really an option.

That’s going to take a while – several years,

Oh, yeah. There were more who said no than

Between these two goals, we also have other

was sometimes frustrating when we knew

So when you launch this crypto you’d only want it to compete with other cryptos, not all the world’s currencies?

a certain investment fund was looking for

Yes, that’s what I mean. I don’t think it’s pos-

something like our project. When a fund was

sible for a cryptocurrency to compete with

only partially compatible with our product,

traditional currencies (called fiat), at least not

What exactly is the next development phase? Is it when you decide between the two product directions?

it wasn’t that bad. But when the fund was

at the moment.

Yes, and when we find the right partners for

who said yes. It wasn’t discouraging, but it

promising to invest in our type of project it was more difficult for us to accept.

What are your expectations for your technology? What will it revolutionize? What’s your unique selling point?

probably. And that’s if things go as planned. objectives.

However, I think they can enable other

the path we choose. If we choose the second

types of transactions and payments which are

path, that would be the moment when we’ll

not currently possible using fiat. For example,

really have to integrate and recruit a sales

if you wanted to buy something that costs 1

team to sell it to commercial partners. At that

cent today, you couldn’t, because Visa’s fee

point, the money we have now will probably

alone is around 20 cents + 2.5/3 percent of the

no longer be enough.


www.business-review.eu Business Review | December 2018

30 ADVERTISING

From fitness to forests – mobile apps get creative In the US, according to eMarketer and quoted by John Koetsier for Forbes, mobile advertising was to drive 75 percent of all digital adspend in 2018, while mobile adspend was predicted to grow 20 percent to over USD 70 billion. Moreover, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), in 2017 mobile video ads were up by 65 percent from the same period in 2016, notching up USD 2.6 billion in revenue. And players say the local industry is not too far behind the global leaders. By Romanita Oprea

Sorina and Mikael Fredholm, Monday app

G

Cora Diaconescu, Tribal Worldwide

lobal mobile advertising spending

MORE CATEGORIES, MORE INNOVATION

campaign that targeted both HoReCa and final

has grown from USD 19 billion in

But how is the situation in Romania? In

consumers. It was an important element of

2013 to USD 133 billion in 2017. The

2018 more and more creative apps took over

the campaign, really involving them in the

fastest rise took place in 2013, 2014, when

the market, both for CSR and sustainability

Pilsner Urquell experience, through the in-

year-over-year mobile adspend jumped more

purposes, and for brands, both big and small.

teractive component,” said Georgiana Bercu,

than 100 percent. This year it’s projected that

Pilsner Urquell, along with the project for the

brand manager for Pilsner Urquell & Grolsch.

companies will collectively spend USD 166

recruitment of the first tapster in Romania,

The brand’s team worked with the agency

billion, roughly 25 percent up on the previous

launched a consumer education innovation

Kubis for several months from the idea of

year.

regarding the right way to serve a beer. For

creating an app to the end result. After the

two weeks, Bucharest drinkers could learn,

design was finished, it was a challenge to find

dicts that mobile advertising will account for

through an app, how to pour a perfect pint of

the technical solutions for the app’s imple-

30.5 percent of global advertising expenditure

beer, with the help of their mobile phone.

mentation, as outdoor display options on the

At the same time, Zenith Optimedia pre-

in 2020, up from 19.2 percent in 2017.

“The application was part of a bigger

market are currently limited.


www.business-review.eu Business Review | December 2018

ADVERTISING 31

community of health experts within nutrition,

the development of more commercial mobile

This autumn, Greenpeace Romania launched

physical activity and lifestyle coaching to help

apps. Most of the time it is more difficult

Forest Guardians, a mobile app that allows

them achieve their health goals. Its mission

to design and launch an app than a mobile

users to get actively involved in the protec-

is to help people live a healthy lifestyle, con-

website; therefore when it comes to com-

tion of forests, especially virgin ones, by

stantly offering new solutions through which

mercial campaigns that cover a finite period,

identifying illegal logging and reporting it to

users can live the life of which they have

it is more cost and time effective and also

Mobile apps also have more serious uses.

dreamed. “Previously someone who went to the gym, had a protein shake and ate a steady meal afterwards was considered to be living an optimum lifestyle. But things are changing rapidly and there is a new health revolution that has given rise to health coaching, which is the fastest growing career in the US right now. But despite health coaches’ knowledge and passion, they are limited to face-to-face consultations or online programs delivered the authorities. The app was developed with

over e-mail, Skype and blogs and writing a

recommended to launch websites, either

the help of MReady and is available in the

book is the most scalable tool for them. It is

responsive or mobile websites exclusively.

Google Play Store and the AppStore, for free

this problem we set out to solve with Monday

Mobile apps involve a long-term strategy with

download.

– to give health coaches and experts a tool to

long-term objectives, while mobile sites have

scale their knowledge and passion and for

fewer limitations, can be developed faster

identifying and protecting virgin and semi-

the end user to get access to world renowned

and therefore are a more suitable choice for

virgin forests, the most valuable forests in the

experts. We had the idea for about three years

short-term strategies and specific, short-term

country and part of our history and cultural

and from the time we decided to execute

commercial objectives,” said Diaconescu of

identity. These forests, which we’ve called

it until the current version of the service it

Tribal Worldwide.

the Secular Land, are the result of thousands

took one year. But this is just a first version

of years of evolution and are in danger of

that was created to validate the idea in a test

“Greenpeace Romania takes action by

What about the never-ending question of free apps and the importance of in-app

being destroyed by a lack of

purchases’? In Fredholm’s

responsibility and respect for

opinion, nothing is ever free

their value. Despite environ-

and it’s a misconception

mental NGOs’ efforts and

that just because a service is

pressure from civil society

delivered through a mobile

in recent years, the Ministry

application it is or should be

of Environment and Water,

free. You either pay for it by

the authority responsible for

giving your personal data

the protection of the virgin

or you pay money for it be-

forests, has not made an

cause you think the service

inventory of them, so nobody

is worth that money. “But of

knows exactly how many and

course it can contain a free

where they are,” said Ciprian

trial or offer limited services for free, just the same way

Galusca, coordinator of Greenpeace Romania’s forests’ campaign.

market which was Romania. We have now

that it is free to go into a bookstore and flip

validated the model in Romania and we are

through the pages of a book. In our case we

Worldwide, believes that mobile apps can

currently working to launch it internation-

offer a free trial for the first three days of any

influence a lot of things for the better, even

ally by attracting international experts as well

plan, which gives the user a very good idea if

happiness levels in certain cities or countries.

as continuously adding new features,” said

this service is something for them.”

One of her favorite “country changing” apps

Mikael Fredholm, co-owner of Monday.

Cora Diaconescu, head of digital at Tribal

In turn, the Tribal Worldwide representative says that brand apps should be free all

is Forest Inspector – a Romanian app where citizens can check on their mobile phone

TO FREE, OR NOT TO FREE

the way: they are meant to be used as a new

whether a log transport is legal or not, by

“We can identify a certain positive shift

channel of communication and brand experi-

entering the registration number of the car

regarding the openness of Romanian clients

ence with customers and potential custom-

carrying the wood. Another type of app, Mon-

towards launching mobile apps, but still,

ers; therefore they should be accessible to

day is a platform that gives users access to a

there are some cost limitations that hinder

anyone, anytime.


www.business-review.eu Business Review | December 2018

32 NEW TECHNOLOGIES

Virtual and augmented reality infiltrate art and communication scene Virtual and augmented reality are changing the creative industries and putting a bigger and bigger imprint on the way markets such as media & advertising, arts and architecture are developing and evolving on the Romanian landscape. By Romanita Oprea human anatomy. The VR section features The Real Thing documentary, by the director Benoit Felici, which offers the viewer a virtual trip in a parallel universe whose action develops in China’s false cities.

FROM ART TO EDUCATION AND BACK Besides being a form of art and technological exploration, VR can be a method of confronting one’s own fears and finding the necessary courage to confront them. Richie’s plank, the app proposed by Loop Virtual Reality Solutions, challenges the public to confront their fear of heights. The action takes place on the top floor of a skyscraper. The same category also includes Box of Fears, which brings together over 100 human phobias presented by Wikipedia. Also connected to the centenary, through the launch of the project Acum 100 Augmented reality is changing the way people are interacting with art

A

ani (100 years ago), Historia Rediviva marks the start of the concept Visual History, an immersive, gamefied approach, a dramatized

ccording to the Digital Recap 2018,

tors to explore creative content in a new con-

manner of presenting historical informa-

created by The Bridge – Golin’s social

text and from an immersive perspective. At

tion, brought into the present through visual

media & digital hub – and blogger

the same time, it provides a space where the

means, using 3D technology and virtual real-

Alex Ciuca (Hoinaru), Augmented Reality

visitor interacts with digital projects in the

ity. In this way history becomes entertain-

(AR) is making changes to the interaction

art, gaming and entertainment, social, and

ment. The project targets mainly the young

between brands and consumers, and will

commercial fields, produced by international

generation, using technology as an authentic

therefore raise the mix of offline-online

studios, as well as by the local digital sector.

interaction tool, based on empathy.

experiences through viral elements added in

The expo also includes projects that

“Romania has a very passionate connec-

real time to a store visit or while looking over

propose a new perspective on education and

tion with the AR and VR industry. It certainly

a flyer. A growing trend is Virtual Reality (VR),

immersive ways of learning. Representative

has huge potential and a creative spark. I

powered by the diversity and increasing ac-

of that is the app created by Vreestory that al-

personally know at least four to five local VR

cessibility of VR glasses’ models.

lows the vivid reliving of the Great Union on

studios, entrepreneurship examples right

December 1 1918. In Romania’s centenary year

here in the capital. We are friends and work

val, a project initiated by The Institute, aims

the exhibition’s visitors will have the unique

closely with Gateway VR Studio, who on

to celebrate the digital industry through VR,

opportunity to interact with major personali-

the second edition of Bucharest Technol-

AR and the digital installations exhibition,

ties of that time, recreated with precision.

ogy Week have enriched the city with V/ART

Internetics Interactive Expo. The exhibition

The same category includes the project The

– Where Reality Meets Street Art, an event

showcases the way that digital technologies

Anatomy Lesson, created by UniVRse, which

where I appreciated collaborations on live

and creative industries interact, allowing visi-

allows the didactic exploring, in depth, of

painting with street artists such as Ortaku,

Marking its 18th edition, Internetics Festi-


www.business-review.eu Business Review | December 2018

NEW TECHNOLOGIES 33

Sweet Damage Crew at the third edition of One Night Gallery Serebe, D21, Lucian Sandu-Milea and Irlo Doi-

VR AND AR GO NATIONWIDE

pass them. “Timisoara also had the Simultan

doi,” commented Andrei Bucureci, co-owner

And Bucharest is not the only city where

Festival, which in 2017 had its 12th edition,

and creative director of Creionetica.

VR and AR exhibitions and events are tak-

called Possible Future. The aim is so simple

The agency itself (Creionetica), is now

ing place. Since 2016 Cluj-Napoca has had

and representative: creating a platform for

building in Bucharest and Romania its own

its own VR club and this year, during Cluj’s

contemporary cultural projects which use

special project: A4Activism – Activist Poster

Days, the first VR app exploration of the

technology as an artistic mean of expression.

Week. This is a platform building a bridge

city, Experience Cluj, was launched. The

Moreover, Cristian Vieriu, with his busi-

between associations and organizations

app currently offers three different virtual

ness Wild Draft, is also constantly pushing

of civil society (environmental and social

tours, created as three unique experiences,

boundaries and provided a few years back

Developed by the stage designer Adrian

that allow 360º panoramas, with users able

some interesting 360 documentary videos

Damian and BRD - Groupe Société Générale,

to move at a height of 70 meters and with an

of performances at the Jazz TM festival in

it proposed a new experience in augmented

average speed of 50 km/hour. More virtual

Timisoara. His portfolio includes a lot of

reality, letting the public interact in unique

tours are set to be added soon. Moreover, Cluj

digital tech animations and sound designs

manners with a series of written works by

is the host of Clujotronic tech and culture

such as Interior8. Last, but not least, I have to

famous science-fiction writers. Guests were

festival, where VR and AR fans can enjoy

mention The Funky Citizens NGO, who have

able to interact with the installation through

various experiences. A virtual museum, in

used AR very interestingly with an interactive

Hololens glasses with a hologram and LEAP

VR and AR, will also be created in Timisoara,

expo of photographs: Protest, which came to

Motion sensors following their hand move-

the app being able to “tell the stories” of

life for the audiences experiencing it through

ments.

Timisoara’s historical buildings, when users

their smart phones,” added Bucureci.

causes) and artists/designers, both local and international. This year, inspired by One Night Gallery, they approached Pisica Patrata - Alexandru Ciubotariu, the first Romanian street artist, also an engaged artist who has worked with WWF-Romania and architect associations, and created social comic books on human rights. Another big brand, this time a bank, BRD - Groupe Société Générale, took part at the 25th edition of the Gaudeamus International Trade with the installation Laboratorul de Imaginar (The Imaginary Laboratory).


www.business-review.eu Business Review | December 2018

34 LEADERSHIP

Driving success: ‘Leaders should always be mindful of clients’ expectations’ Christophe Dridi, manager of the Dacia plant in Mioveni, told Business Review that the power of his leadership credo resides in simple exercises, which he practices in compliance with Socrates’ Test of Three: Is it true? Is it said with good will? Is it useful?

ABOUT CHRISTOPHE DRIDI, MANAGER, DACIA PLANT IN MIOVENI Since October 2016, the Mioveni Dacia Vehicle Factory has been managed by Christophe Dridi. The Frenchman has 23 years of experience in the Renault and Nissan Group. Together with his team of around 7,300 employees, Dridi is responsible for the production activity of the Dacia models range.

By Daniela Oancea What are a few resources you would recommend to someone looking to gain insight into becoming a better leader? Being open, staying humble and listening to one’s teams. But at the same time, being demanding, determined and ready to take decisions. Always be an example and give meaning. Teams need to know where we are heading to, what the common goal is. It is thus very important for a leader to show the way as clearly and simply as possible. Leaders should remind themselves as often as necessary of this common goal, which should always be customer satisfaction. Simply said, a leader, in order to improve, should always be mindful of clients’ expectations.

What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess?

Millennials’ expectations. Plus, spending too

What are you doing to ensure you continue to grow and develop as a leader?

little time with their teams and not listening

Practice is for me the best way to improve.

Please allow me to mention a few, that are

to them enough is one of the mistakes leaders

Every day, I put the maximum energy into

interlinked: leaders have to have a clear strat-

make most frequently today.

listening to my teams, but also to advice coming from people surrounding me and taking

egy, they should be capable of motivating and having their teams grow, and be close to their

the necessary distance to analyze the bigger

teams while actively listening to them. From

Is there someone who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader?

experience, I have noticed that the best ideas

What I can tell you is that this person taught

come from field teams. The best ideas are the

me a lot about being humble, showing empa-

ones that have most chances of being applied,

thy, behaving exemplarily and speaking the

since they come from people that will imple-

truth while complying with the three Socratic

What advice would you give someone taking up a leadership position for the first time?

ment them. It is very important for a leader to

questions: Is it true? Is it said with good will?

Be honest, make it simple, trust in people,

listen, to listen carefully and to make regular

Is it useful? I try to ask myself these three

listen, help their teams grow, be fair. One has

field visits. Reality is down there, and not in

questions as often as possible, since they can

to stay true to oneself. If someone positions

presentations in the meeting room!

be applied in the professional world, as well

him or herself as a leader, it is not by chance;

as in the private one, with family and friends.

it means that he or she has already proven the

What are the biggest challenges facing leaders today?

If you ask yourself these three questions, you

qualities of a leader, more specifically the ca-

definitely listen carefully, show empathy, and

pacity to listen, to motivate, in order to reach

To continuously adapt, getting the bigger

also get the necessary distance, then this is

results, and to have his or her team members

picture in all circumstances and to rely on

the best behavior for me, to become a better

grow. And then, one needs to stay humble,

digital and on industry 4.0, while integrating

leader.

since one learns every day.

picture.


www.business-review.eu Business Review | December 2018

36 COMMUNICATION

Superbrands drive Romania forward Business Review sat down with Catalina Rousseau, president & CEO of BDR Associates - Strategic Communication Group, to learn about Superbrands, one of the company’s flagship projects, and how the firms that gain such recognition can change Romania’s image. By Anda Sebesi

ABOUT Catalina Rousseau president and ceo, bdr associates - strategic communication group Catalina Rousseau founded BDR Associates Communication Group back in 1995. She has more than 22 years of experience in strategic communication and crisis management, and is highly specialized in designing, planning and coordinating PR and communication strategies to assist private national and multinational companies, governmental or international institutions in Romania, Republic of Moldova, and other markets.

What can you tell us about Superbrands, one of your flagship projects?

and motivated from one edition to another

What is new this year?

to be more creative and innovative. Our key

Superbrands TV (SBTV) is now one of the

Each Superbrands edition represents a beauti-

target is to keep putting brands in full light,

important trends developed by Superbrands,

ful year-long journey for all those on board:

bringing recognition to their substantial

at global level. This is the new tool which

brands themselves, their talented brand

contribution to building strong pillars for the

we would like to put forward to brands

guardians, distinguished jury members, com-

economic development and prosperity of us

in our market for the new edition of the

petent researchers from the IPSOS institute

all, in Romania. We are committed to paying

Superbrands Romania Program. It is an in-

and the local Superbrands team, which have

responsible tribute to brands’ genuine perfor-

novative tool making high visibility possible

made things happen, for almost 13 years now.

mance and to keep telling the beautiful story

worldwide for all brands whether global, or

The previous edition was dedicated to Roma-

of those outstanding companies and people

local. SBTV have proved practically immedi-

nia’s centenary, under the evocative title, 100

who make the difference in this market

ate results being a simple and effective way

Years, Centuries Ahead. We are encouraged

through branding culture.

to showcase a brand’s achievements and


www.business-review.eu Business Review | December 2018

COMMUNICATION 37

Superbrands status through a digital delivery

progress in a competitive market. High-per-

cal framework. Market stability and predict-

platform, helping brands to quickly promote

formance brands help economic stability. At

ability are key factors feeding investors’ trust

their brand values, current initiatives and

the same time, they confirm values and pro-

and making them come and invest here. We

social corporate responsibilities to consumers

mote high quality standards, they build solid

depend to a large extent on such friendly mar-

and key individuals.

pillars for market development, they educate

ket conditions which generate and increase

consumers, they influence our lifestyle, they

demand for specialized services like ours. So,

world have discovered that SBTV provides

offer models to follow. The Superbrands are

the market conditions are the first to be im-

a quick and practical platform to educate

invincible heroes, making the country move

proved in order to make the communication

employees and staff about the interesting

forward and communities prosper. They keep

industry stronger.

and unique story of the brand, as well as

their promises in spite of the unfriendly busi-

its latest products, developments, initia-

ness environment. Above all, they represent

tives, and achievements, allowing brands to

the strongest guarantee that Romania has

Is it similar to its CEE peers? What differentiates it from them?

engage with consumers, via social media,

a future, preserving Romania’s reputation

I would say that Romania is the second larg-

and inform them about the history of the

against all odds, at a time when the country

est strategic communication and PR market

brand and its newly awarded ‘Superbrands

needs, more than ever, recognition, respect

in the region, after Poland. Over the years,

Status’. It is amazing how it worked abroad.

and a good image in Europe and in other

we have had many project opportunities in

So we hope to value it when promoting

markets through showing its professional,

neighboring countries, either through the

brands’ performance in Romania, offering

creative and innovative force. I think that all

Hill+Knolwton Strategies network with which

Using this new tool, brands all over the

concrete examples of how brands around the

we have partnered since 2003, or teaming in

world have used SBTV to reach market goals,

key situations with other big consultancies in

increase business, and convince consumers

the WPP Group, or with regional public affairs

to remain loyal. At the same time, they can

networks.

share achievements with key audiences from

We have also worked as an independent

senior management, shareholders, investors

agency assisting our own clients with Euro-

and major clients and suppliers, to journal-

pean or global representation in markets like

ists, researchers and academics and PR and

Hungary, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic,

advertising agencies.

but also in Ukraine. For the last 15 years, we have had significant representation in the

What do you most want to highlight at Superbrands 2018?

Republic of Moldova, a small but interesting

As I said, we do need even more creative

by international donors like the EU, World

vision for this new edition. Looking around

Bank or USAID for institutional and economic

at other European markets, we are seeing so

development. Having said that, the clear

many Superbrands gala events at outstanding

perception is that Poland is the CEE leader in

market, relevant mainly for projects funded

standards, taking place in many EU capitals,

those hundreds of brands getting the Super-

our field, being the preferred communication

lately (the latest one in Lisbon on November

brands status year by year represent Roma-

hub by global companies, in Central, Eastern

14). We have already received many questions

nia’s true and most loyal friends, building our

and Southern Europe. I don’t see any differ-

from local brands about the start of the new

future, at home.

ence between Romania and these markets in terms of professionalism; yet, I always feel

edition. We’ve noticed significant interest in the independent research results, having in

the touch of class when teaming with col-

partner, and because of the international

How would you describe the Romanian PR market now and how do you think it should be improved?

dimension of the program, allowing the shar-

Generally speaking, the PR, PA and strategic

One other difference is the existence in

ing of experience with other markets. For sure

communication consultancies have grown as

these other markets of strong industry associ-

this new edition will bring good news. We

a market in the last 20 years. Our industry has

ations, with significant membership and his-

want our Superbrands to be happy because

proved strong capabilities and it is absolutely

tory. This confers more force and consistent

they make our life better and brighter.

undeniable that the creativity, strategic

image capital on all agency members, hence

thinking and level of professional assistance

many business benefits. We are trying to con-

What is the value added that the Superbrands project brings to the local market?

are at least equal (if not better in many cases)

solidate such good practices in Romania as

to those of any highly reputed agency from

well, under the auspices of the ARRP. One big

It is a fact that Superbrands of Romania brings

abroad. Yet, growing the business in our field

step made forward by the ARRP was its affili-

value added to the sustained efforts made

is highly influenced by economic develop-

ation to ICCO, as until recently Romania was

by the business community as a whole, in

ment, by the profitability of companies as

the only country not part of this most highly

helping the economy consolidate and make

targeted clients, and by a stable legal and fis-

reputed global organization in our field.

view the prestige of IPSOS, our traditional

leagues from company hubs or consultancies in Poland.


www.business-review.eu Business Review | December 2018

38 INTERNET

5G technology set to cover local internet ‘white zones’ The internet in Romania is one of the paradoxes of the IT industry: we have among the highest download and upload speeds in the world, but only a little more than half of the population is connected and using the world wide web. By Aurel Dragan broadband internet speed this year based on measurements made over June 2017-May 2018. The average speed was 38.6 Mbps, up by 81 percent compared to 2017, putting Romania behind only Singapore (60.4 Mbps), Sweden (46 Mbps), Denmark (44 Mbps) and Norway (40.1 Mbps). The average takes into consideration all the settlements in the country, so is quite low compared with speeds found in towns, usually over 100 Mbps. Also, connections with 500 Mbps or 1,000 Mbps are not unusual, especially since the prices of monthly subscriptions are the lowest in the European Union.

HOME CONNECTIONS The highest number of monthly subscriptions in Romania can be found for cable TV, Dreamstime

at over 7.3 million, covering 98 percent of households. But for fixed internet the penetration is only 58 percent, up 4 percentage Romania ranks fifth in the world by broadband internet speed this year

T

points and more than double in urban areas (3.4 million connections) than in rural (1.4 million). The number of monthly subscrip-

he local development of the internet

Regulation in Communications (ANCOM)

tions has reached 4.8 million. The number of

goes back more than two decades

identified 3,251 villages without Next Genera-

fiber optics has almost doubled, reaching 1.1

when the first connections with the

tion Network (NGN). Over 350,000 dwellings

million, while most connections (67 percent)

outside network were made. Small, neighbor-

and almost 1 million people were found in

allow speeds of over 100 Mbps, 11 percent

hood networks started to build and connect

these “white areas”, according to the National

between 30 and 100 Mbps and only 9 percent

more and more buildings and dwellings. In

Institute of Statistics (INS). The Minister of

below 10 Mbps.

time, the big providers bought most of the

Communication has a project underway,

Providers are highly concentrated, accord-

small companies as a normal step towards

called Ro-Net, valued at EUR 85 million,

ing to ANCOM data from the end of 2017, with

new technologies like fiber optic networks.

meant to cover all settlements with broad-

the leader (RCS&RDS) holding 40 percent, the

Fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) was just a dream in

band internet. The construction of the infra-

second placed firm holding 21 percent (Tele-

the coaxial cable era, but today it’s the normal

structure was awarded to Telekom Romania,

kom Romania), and the third having a market

connection for many houses.

but the project that started in 2013 is not yet

share of 13 percent (UPC, now Vodafone). The

finished and there are still hundreds of small

others divide a share of 17 percent.

Still there are thousands of villages without any fixed internet connection or broadband. At the beginning of the year the National Authority for Administration and

white zones in Romania. Meanwhile, a report by M-Lab Test revealed Romania ranks fifth in the world by

Fixed internet coverage stands at 71 percent in urban areas and 41 percent in rural ones, and is growing slowly in towns and a


www.business-review.eu Business Review | December 2018

INTERNET 39

bit faster in small settlements. This is not a

connections still in place because those will

monitoring and control of energy grids and

surprise if we consider that the population

be perfect for a huge array of devices and sen-

telecommunication towers.

of the country is ageing and the people who

sors to communicate with the main server.

have not kept pace with technology are not

At the end of 2017, of the total mobile

Through IoT, pieces of equipment can communicate with each other without the

connections in Romania, 38 percent were

intervention of a human operator, thus

4G and 42 percent 3G, meaning high-speed

reducing response times in critical situations

5G IS COMING

connections for 83 percent of users, spread

and eliminating human error.

And there is another twist: mobile internet.

among the major industry players, Orange,

In the past 20 years, the growth of mobile

Vodafone, Telekom and Digi.

interested in the internet.

phone coverage has rendered landlines

The 5G networks are to be ready in 2020

Through its Orange Fab start-ups such as BOX2M, Orange tested the network’s capabilities in Alba Iulia and Constanta. The

largely redundant. Today, there are 22.4 million active users of mobile phones, while the number of landlines is decreasing every year, having reached just 3.9 million. Mobile internet might just be doing the same thing, even if we will not probably see the same evolution over the coming years since the connections are already in place and are still cheaper and more reliable than mobile ones. But things will change dramatically for mobile internet after the implementation of 5G technology, which will allow speeds 10 times higher than the 4G network. “5G will mean a real industrial revolution and a

and are now already in the testing phase. The

two projects are aimed at the utility networks

chance to reduce the gaps in development

future is already undergoing testing with in-

(lighting, water, gas, energy) as well as the

in Romania. Studies show that the effects

termediate networks, like the LTE-M network

industrial and retail sectors. BOX2M also inte-

of 5G implementation will be seen in the

built by Orange. The network is available as

grated its designed IoT devices in the Orange

Romanian economy by generating revenues

of this November to Orange B2B customers

Live Objects, a secure device and customer

of over EUR 4.7 billion, creating over 250,000

and it is the first national network

jobs and increasing the turnover in smart

dedicated to connecting low-

industries from USD 3.7 billion in 2020 to USD

power devices in Romania,

9 billion in 2026. We propose that by 2025

spanning over 3,100

all urban centers, highways and modernized

localities.

railways, ports and international airports be

LTE-M is standard

data platform that covers the main functionalities required for any IoT project: selection of the IoT devices, connectivity adapted to each customer’s needs, administration of data col-

covered with new technology. Also, in order

technology from the

to maximize the socio-economic benefits, we

3GPP family, capable of

lected and stored, control

want to have seven pilot projects distributed

connecting devices and

and business intelligence.

throughout the country,” said Sorin Grindea-

sensors directly to the 4G

nu, president of ANCOM.

network. It stands out from

The 5G network is destined for industry

other IoT network technologies

The LTE-M network comes in addition to the Orange portfolio of IT&C solutions, such as Cloud Computing, Business Wi-Fi, Retail

and businesses rather than consumers. While

through its voice (VoLTE) and SMS capa-

4G connections allowed users to watch live

bilities, as well as its suitability for mobility

TV and stream videos, 5G will give companies

projects. The most common areas of use

the opportunity to connect all the devices

involve smart meters, asset tracking applica-

technology is estimated at EUR 2.3 billion. By

and sensors they need (Internet of Things) in

tions and the connection of high-density

December 15, 2019, ANCOM will hold a tender

order to get more accurate data about their

sensors, with applicability in smart city and

granting the rights to use the 700 MHz band

activity. We shall see, in the years to come,

agri-tech type solutions, retail, industry 4.0

frequencies and the other target bands for the

the disappearance of 4G and 3G connec-

projects involving automation of production

provision of fixed and mobile communica-

tions, taken over by 5G, but with 2G and 2.5G

lines, critical infrastructure projects such as

tions associated with 5G technology.

and City Analytics, and Cyber Security. The value of the investment needed for 5G


www.business-review.eu Business Review | December 2018

40 ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

AI poised to reshape our apps – and our societies Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the word on every techie’s lips these days. Experts say there are no apps in the making that are not likely to use AI in one way or another. It is a broad use of the term meant to show that we are giving more control to machines to do what humans are not equipped to.

Dreamstime

By Aurel Dragan

AI will still be part of companies’ recruitment process

R

evolution 4.0 is developing before

machines to become intelligent is knowledge,

rating candidates for software developer jobs

our eyes. And we are getting used to

which means that that we must provide this

and other technical posts in a gender-neutral

it without really noticing. If we look

to the program. Of course, what we feed the

way. That was because the computer model

back we can see how we got used to terms like

machine with is very important. “If we put

was based on observing patterns in resumes

cloud, software-as-a-services, platform-as-a-

garbage in, then we get garbage out. If we put

submitted over a 10-year period, most of

service, big data, internet of things. It is now

intelligence in, then we will get intelligence

which came from men, so the system taught

time to accept AI as a normal thing even if the

out,” says Marian Popa, CEO of DB Global

itself that male candidates were preferable

way we use it might not be the right one.

Technologies Romania.

and penalized resumes that included words

AI covers a whole area of computer science

A good example of the limitations of AI

like “women”, including colleges with women in the name.

that emphasizes the creation of intelligent

is Amazon’s automatization of its recruit-

machines. Among the first uses of AI were in

ment process. Officials at the online retailer, a

speech recognition, learning, planning and

company whose success is based on automa-

banded the team, but it shows the limitations

problem solving. It went on to perception,

tization, wanted to find the perfect machine

of the machine’s learning process. AI will still

reasoning and the ability to manipulate and

to review 100 resumes and pick out the top

be part of companies’ recruitment process,

move objects. The most important thing for

five. But they found that the software was not

and, in the future, it will become more and

Amazon closed the program and dis-


www.business-review.eu Business Review | December 2018

more important, but the final word will be

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE 41

Stefan Baciu, country leader at SAS Romania.

and turning it into coherent apps. Already, all the major cloud platforms, Microsoft Azure,

said by a human, not a machine – at least for

Business analytics can be used in all

the next four or five years, say experts. “How

departments of a business, from customer

Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud, give

to ensure that the algorithm is fair, how to

relations to credit risk scores. One of the best

access to running machine learning models.

make sure the algorithm is really interpretable

examples of data used by software is the

and explainable – that’s still quite far off,” said

analysis of the info publicly displayed by us-

that IoT data will grow exponentially after

Nihar Shah, who teaches machine learning at

ers on social media. The software can identify

the launch of 5G, which is only a year away.

Carnegie Mellon University.

groups of users of a certain service, in telecom

“While the 4G network was closer to the

for example, and can identify the issues

retail customer, 5G will be important for

uses for AI. “The amount of data from the last

they have with the service or the product.

companies, for the different industries that

5,000 years has doubled in the last two years,”

“The program gets to the point where it can

will be able to connect a lot more sensors and

says Dirk Haeussermann, head of platform &

identify the informal leader of the group and

gather more data from each one,” says Pascal

data management MEE at SAP, adding that

recommend a special offer to that person so

Giraud, senior director for Cloud at Oracle

“change is happening fast and it will never be

they brag about the product or service they

EMEA, which also states that all unnecessary

slow again.” The amount of data we have can-

got and turn the groups’ feelings about the

technologies will be rejected by the market,

transform data into instructions. It is not “Ar-

company,” says Baciu, explaining social media

giving the example of RFID technology (radio

tificial General Intelligence”, or “true AI” or

analytics.

frequency identification) that didn’t find

This doesn’t mean that we don’t have any

The possibilities for AI are endless, given

not be analyzed by humans so the need for machines will only grow in the coming years. While common sense and reasoning will still be a problem for machines, problem-solving for specified tasks is underway right now. Mathematical analysis of machine learning algorithms and their performance is a well-defined branch of theoretical computer science often referred to as computational learning theory – or simply as machine learning, a process developing a program able to take certain decisions regarding specified activities. SAS Group representatives refer to this type of AI as “Narrow Artificial Intelligence”, systems that

“real AI”, which is supposed to be the system

Telecom and banking are the main sec-

many uses. Artificial Intelligence is here to stay even

that understands the world like humans do.

tors in Romania where business analytics is

But this kind of AI exists right now only in

already in use, but all businesses will need

if it is not the real AI that we are scared of,

science-fiction movies and there is no near-

this type of AI programs in order to keep pace

the one that can think like a human and take

future in sight. Human brains are not able

with the competition. “Another example of a

decisions in our place. But all repetitive jobs

to do calculations in billions without help or

business analytics program is that, based on

will eventually be taken over by machines

remembering millions of repetitive data, but

patterns from the past, it can predict three

and people will be forced to stay creative in

the calculations that hundreds of billions of

months in advance that a certain client will

order to keep a job. A machine can analyze

neurons do every moment are not equaled by

leave the company, with 90 percent accuracy,”

a million brain tumors and have 90 percent

any machine.

says Baciu.

accuracy in identifying them, while the best

Right now AI machines are covering a

“In the future we will see data generating

doctor in the world has an accuracy rate of 40

niche left open by the human brain. Gathering

applications, while in the past there were

percent, but the complexity of surgery will

and analyzing all the data from the Internet of

apps generating data. Completely new ser-

not be entrusted to machines anytime soon.

Things (IoT) is huge task and getting some-

vices and products will come out of the data

A person who speaks Chinese can understand

thing out of it is of most importance. It is what

we collect and the possibilities are fantastic,”

the written words and interpret the spoken

SAS calls “business analytics”. “Doing nothing

says Haeussermann. Basically, what AI is

language, but for a machine these are two

– this is the main enemy of any business,” says

doing right now is making Big Data usable

different abilities.


www.business-review.eu Business Review | December 2018

42 CONTEMPORARY ART

State of the art: MNAC showcases 60 years of local history For the first time in its 18-year history, the National Museum of Contemporary Art (MNAC) is launching a long-term innovative project looking at Romanian contemporary art history (1947-2007). Business Review went behind the scenes with Calin Dan, director of the museum.

Photo courtesy of MNAC Bucharest

By Oana Vasiliu The idea is simple:

someone has to deal with it. Where contem-

as an institution, we

porary stops, here’s the key. It stops quite far

have to decide the

back to give us time to come back. A contem-

area of activity and

porary art museum is meant to look first and

coverage of MNAC.

foremost at the recent past. And we consid-

Given what’s going

ered 2007 a good closing point because then

on in other museums

the paradigm changed again with entry into

displaying new art,

the EU and in this way we closed a 60-year

20th-century art, it

interval over which we leaned with the tools

seems pretty obvious

of art history research and using the objects

that the post-1947

we have in the collection.

period is not covered by anyone. Since we have works from

What should a visitor expect from Seeing History?

the 40s and 50s, we

The visitor now sees a diachronic display

have decided that

where works are associatively joined and a

our portfolio covers

regular museum-goer can see it. Secondly,

Since you became the director of MNAC, you have been working with artists and curators, exploring a wide array of mediums of creativity. For this incredible exhibition, how do you share these responsibilities and how do you deal with the issue of shared authorship?

from World War II until now, because we also

the visitor is guided strictly by the minimum

have the contemporary in our portfolio. We

information the labels contain. Thirdly,

have to deal with what should have been

the description of the timeline will soon be

resolved before, namely the writing of the

available in English, the resume of the his-

history of Romanian art since the post-war

tory of art 1947-2007. The next step will be a

period. At least one major book on the topic

micro-fiche of the work that is exhibited, of

In art, things are like at any company: people

by Magda Carneci,

meet regularly, exchange information, deter-

but the period is still

mine the next steps, and the overall strategy

missing monographs,

comes from the board of directors or CEO.

thematic books,

It is not a big difference: I came up with the

theoretical analyses.

concept of this exhibition and then, from

We have a consistent

ongoing discussions with my colleagues, we

historiographical fo-

finally managed to give it shape and make it

cus, but it is far from

happen. We undertook research, reading and

sufficient to under-

lecturing, gathering information, restoration,

stand this period.

has been published, Photo: Clara Durán, courtesy of MNAC Bucharest

but also other things more or less spectacular.

The important

Collective curating should not be understood

question is where we

differently from any activity involving a num-

stop, not where we start, because it is obvious

those works that have historical significance

ber of people.

that something happened after the war, the

in the sense that they are representative of an

country was profoundly changing politically,

artist who is clearly representative of a certain

economically and socially with the new re-

period of time, and that work can be mapped

gime and with that the cultural paradigm, so

in a wider context.

What does the Seeing History exhibition seek to investigate?


www.business-review.eu Business Review | December 2018

ADVERTORIAL 43

Environmental policy sets standards in challenging business • Reduce CO2 emissions by 25% before 2025; • Establish, maintain and intensify dialogue with stakeholders and employees to ensure and achieve environment objectives and goals through continuous improvement. Michael Proschek-Hauptmann, Head of Sustainability and Compliance with Holzindustrie Schweighofer, details the company’s environmental policy: “We have decided on very ambitious targets, especially concerning the fields of climate protection and enTake a large, multinational company, whose

consume all and any potential surplus. As a re-

ergy efficiency, because our mills are already

activities could impact the environment.

sult, for example, sawdust and chips are used

equipped with state-of-the-art technology.

to produce ecologic heating materials (pellets

The environmental policy should also have

Add in an increased care for the areas where

and briquettes).

a strong internal effect and should motivate

it runs its business and you get a recipe for a

• Promote a corporate culture in which respon-

our employees to act in line with the goals

brand new environmental policy, which aims

sible use of resource and effective environ-

we have defined.”

at standardising procedures and achieving

mental management are an integral part of

the ultimate goal of protecting the environ-

the economic activities, supporting innovation

All the Group’s production units are slated

ment.

and success;

to be ISO 14001-certified by 2022, with Holz-

• Buy exclusively certified material by 2025 and

industrie Schweighofer Baco in Comanesti

Such an example is Holzindustrie Sch-

publicly report progress against this target

acting as the frontrunner in the matter. The

weighofer, one of the leading companies in

annually (sourcing policy);

blockboard factory was the first in Romania

the wood processing industry in Romania.

• Fully comply with national and international

to obtain the ISO 14001 standard certificate

With more than 2,700 employees in the

environmental requirements with the objec-

back in 2009, while the Group’s newest

country, it runs three sawmills and two

tive of exceeding the requirements, thus mov-

sawmill, Holzindustrie Schweighofer Reci,

panel factories, producing high-quality wood

ing towards a higher level of environmental

received the ISO 14001 certification this

products for industrial customers, both in

protection;

September.

Romania and in over 70 countries worldwide.

• Contribute to protecting biodiversity and actively engage in forest restoration actions;

For more information visit

Efficiency is the name of the game and

• Reduce electrical and thermal energy by 30%

https://www.schweighofer.at/en/responsibility.html

transparency is the means to uphold sound

before 2025;

principles of sustainability, in all aspects of the everyday business. Holzindustrie Schweighofer only sources sustainable wood and makes use of 100% of the valuable resources, in a move of minimising its carbon footprint and capitalise on all of its by-products. The leading wood processing company undertakes to: • Maximise the re-use of side products, by tailoring its production process design to


www.business-review.eu Business Review | December 2018

44 CONTEMPORARY ART

Not Bad: local artist Dan Mihaltianu featured in international Michael Jackson exhibition Romanian Dan Mihaltianu is one of 48 international artists contributing to an exhibition about Michael Jackson’s impact on contemporary art at London’s National Portrait Gallery. Business Review went to London to investigate. By Oana Vasiliu

Captions from Dan Mihaltianu’s performance

O

ne name, one legend: Michael Jack-

100,000 at the Bucharest National Stadium.

son. Nine years since his demise,

Mihaltianu’s installation meditates on the

Jackson’s legacy as a pop culture

Regarding his art, Mihaltianu recalls, as written on the wall of the exhibition: “My interest

remarkably high-capitalist gig that was Jack-

in Michael Jackson … was raised through the

icon is explored in an exhibition at London’s

son at his peak, and the response to him from

preparations for his concert … The entire Ro-

National Portrait Gallery, heading also for

a newly post Communist society.

manian society was impatiently waiting for

Paris, Bonn and Finland. Michael Jackson: On

His work of art is “based on images (por-

the close encounter with the Megastar … only

The Wall features paintings, photographs and

traits of politicians, intellectuals workers,

a few years after the collapse of Communism

sculptures from artists such as pop art pio-

unemployed, street kids, homeless people

and the social, political and economic tur-

neer Andy Warhol, German sculptor Isa Gen-

etc) printed in the Romanian newspapers of

moil that followed. It was the first time that

zken and US photographer David LaChapelle,

the time”.

people would use their freedom to take to the

but also Mihaltianu, with a film of Jackson’s

The installation, Last Days of Michael

streets driven by art and not by the hardships

Dangerous tour concert in Bucharest back in

Jackson in Bucharest (inkjet, pressed card-

of everyday life or the dysfunction of the

1992, representing the onslaught of Western

board, halogen light, 1992-2013), was the only

transition government in power.” The exhibi-

propaganda which arrived in the region after

one using a video of the artist, featuring his

tion is currently available in Paris (France) at

the fall of communism. Jackson performed

performance from the 1992 tour, courtesy of

the Grand Palais from November 23, 2018 to

a sold-out show to an audience of around

MJJ Productions / Sony Music Entertainment.

February 14, 2019.


www.business-review.eu Business Review | December 2018

RESTAURANT REVIEW 45

NEVER TAKE A FRIEND’S ADVICE

I

>>> Grano, 40 Putul Lui Zamfir, 0743 035 074 <<< But what was remarkable was the nerve

have a friend who dines out every

RON 18. Romanian brands of equal quality

night. So I reasoned that he must have

cost no more than RON 3 for an entire liter.

of the House to offer ravioli with truffle

a wealth of restaurants under his belt,

This portent of unashamed greed was to

cream at RON 55. I asked if the truffle was

a far greater number than mine. He raved

manifest itself when we saw our overpriced

fresh, or truffle oil. It was neither. It was

about Grano; to him it was “the best/the

bill.

a concoction straight from a supermarket

most romantic/greatest food, etc”. So I had

Well, can they screw up a simple, stan-

glass jar of truffle ‘something’ mixed with

to bow to his ‘experience’ and check the

dard selection of Italian salami as a starter?

cheap mushrooms. I saw the wretched

place out.

Of course they can. I expected a plateau of

thing with my own eyes, as the House was

salamis, but the greedy House offered two,

selling the jars as a take-away deli dish.

But as I sat in Grano, the awful truth dawned on me: the only reason he dines

yes, a vast selection of TWO choices of slices

out every night is because he can’t cook,

of salami at RON 55. No thanks, House!

and therefore knows nothing about food. Picture me sitting in a restaurant

Since the theme of the place was Italian,

I was still hunting for a good dish, when I threw expense and caution to the wind and ordered a fillet steak (RON 75) in black pepper sauce. It was not a fillet

the House did the usual

recommended to me by a

steak, rather a hard dry

insult to the

gastronomic Neander-

slice of meat of which

cus-

I could not identify

thal.

the cut. A disas-

It is a charm-

ter, with the

ing little place,

black pepper

small and cozy. But a small

sauce being

restaurant

the House

serving small

staple ac-

portions of

companying almost every

food is where

dish of ruc-

small ends,

cola and cherry

for the prices are anything but

tomatoes.

small! My friend told

The only memora-

me it was a Mediterranean chophouse, but naturally he got it

ble dish was another pasta

tomer’s ex-

dressed in a (basil) pesto sauce.

perience by dominating

wrong, as it was yet another, pseudo wan-

the menu with pasta dishes. Here is a news-

It was so simple, it was impossible for the

nabe Italian joint.

flash: Italians do NOT live on pasta, and half

House to screw it up. I enjoyed it.

So my pal phoned me as I perused the

the country avoids it by choosing rice, fish

OK, is there anything good enough to

menu and told me I just had to have the

and meat. Pastas outside Italy are reserved

recommend Grano? There is. The bread

salads. No I didn’t. Everything was based

for ignorant tourists or stupid Bucharest din-

is excellent (of course you will pay for it,

upon ruccola and cherry tomatoes (a nice

ers who think it is de rigueur to eat pasta in

even if you haven’t asked for it) and the

money spinner for the House) and as they

bullshit, so-called Italian restaurants.

staff are an absolute delight. The clientele

were all priced between RON 45-60, they

As for me, after 20 years of eating (and

are the epitome of cool. All aged thirty-

are surely taking the piss out of you. I

regretting) Italian food, here I am suffering

something, casual with nothing to prove.

passed on my favorite – a tuna salad – and

‘pasta fatigue’, and since the mainstay of this

But if the extent of your food ambitions is

priced at a ludicrous RON 50 I expected

House was pasta, I was forced to have the

to eat expensive, average food with all of

fresh tuna. But no, the tuna was straight

stuff. So I had a penne pasta ‘quattro forma-

the ‘Italian’ ingredients being available in

out of a supermarket tin.

ggi’, namely pasta with four cheeses. For

your local supermarket, Grano is the place

my RON 40 I received a tiny, mean little dish

for you.

And while we are talking about ludicrous prices, consider this: Blondie asked

of pasta with the ‘four’ cheeses (were there

for water and was presented with a small

really four?) melted into the pasta. Utterly

bottle of the Pellegrini brand at a whopping

unremarkable.

Michael Barclay Mab.media@dnt.ro


www.business-review.eu Business Review | December 2018

46 CITY

Cultural calendar

By Oana Vasiliu

Madrigal Choir Christmas Concert Dec 8-9, National Museum of Arts (MNAR)

Christmas shopping Bucharest Christmas Market Nov 30 - Dec 26, Piata Constitutiei

No winter holiday would be com-

popular musicals of recent years,

plete without this magnificent

returns to the Bucharest stage.

choir, the Romanian chamber

Not only will you will feel the

and materials can be found here.

choir Madrigal – Marin Constan-

classic ABBA vibe, but you will

Don’t miss it.

tin, who will bring you the spirit

also escape winter as you are pro-

of Christmas. Ticket prices from

jected to a Greek paradise island. The smash-hit musical is a story

Dichisar de Iarna Dec 8-9, Impact Hub

RON 80 to RON 250.

Probably the most eagerly expected Christmas Fair, where

Looking for a place to pick up

cleverly told through the timeless

tradition meets contemporary

some handmade presents? Or

Mamma Mia! Musical Dec 28, Sala Palatului

and takes us on a journey to

just want to see some beautiful

Mamma Mia!, one of the most

from RON 100 to RON 325.

Santa Claus land. Live concerts

designer goodies? This is the

and mulled wine will feature for

place.

sure.

Noblesse Palace Christmas Fair Dec 6-8, Noblesse Palace

Pink Martini concert Dec 1-2, Sala Palatului

Home deco and designers’ magic meet and greet you for an exquisite Christmas present.

Targul Cadourilor de Craciun Dec 7-9, Romexpo

Guess who’s back in town: the

From Christmas decorations

one and only Pink Martini, pre-

to jewelry, cosmetics, toys and

senting their winter repertoire,

many surprises, this is probably

with festive music from all over

the biggest Christmas fair in

the world. Get ready for two

Bucharest.

nights of Ukrainian, French, and Italian carols, winter songs from

Mezanin Market Dec 8, Palatul Universul

Israel, Scotland and Germany,

After inspiration from Romanian

famous White Christmas sung in

designers of all types? An infu-

Japanese! Ticket prices from RON

sion of creativity for both objects

130 to RON 290.

Chinese New Year tunes and the

of love, friendship and identity, songs of ABBA. Tickets prices


BR/11/2018  
BR/11/2018  
Advertisement