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INTERVIEW: Bianca Fota, the prima ballerina assoluta of the Bucharest National Opera, tells BR about the experience of playing the most coveted role in ballet, Odette/Odile, in a new production of Swan Lake »page 12



JUNE 2 - 8, 2014 / VOLUME 18, NUMBER 20


HERE COMES THE RAIN AGAIN Home-grown troubles plus the effects of the financial crisis have put the local insurance sector, an emerging market, under pressure » pages 8-9



Poll position

SMEs How to

Romanian voters rejected extremist parties in last week’s EU Parliament election, with turnout up by almost 5 percentage points

Experts at BR’s SMEs How-to event outlined financing programs for small players and voiced their concern over poor local management skills

» page 4

» page 6 Business Review | June 2 - 8, 2014


NEWS in brief AIRLINES Tarom sees traffic drop in 2013 Tarom carried 2.1 million passengers last year, down from 2.19 million in 2012, falling short of the 2.3 million target stipulated in the management plan approved early last year, writes Airline officials did not provide an explanation for the decline. Under the management plan, the privately-run state-owned airline was supposed to increase its annual passenger numbers by 100,000 and reach 2.6 million passengers in 2016. Romania’s Transport Ministry replaced four out of six members of the state-run airline’s executive board earlier this month.

ART MARKET Art Safari attracts 15,000 Photo: Mihai Constantineanu

visitors Bucharest’s first professional and public art pavilion Art Safari attracted 15,000 visitors during its four-day presentation of Romanian art, according to Artmark estimations. Of these, over 11,000 were paying customers, added the auction house.

HUMAN RESOURCES Continental to up headcount by 1,500 over coming months Continental has announced that it will hire 1,500 people over the coming months, to fuel its production, research and development activities, according to Capital. Ro. “We are proud of our team, which numbers 13,000 in Romania, and are looking forward to welcoming the new employees in Sibiu, Timisoara, Brasov, Carei, Nadab and Iasi,” said Christian von Albrichsfeld, R&D director at Continental Romania, during a ceremony for the inauguration of its new building, quoted by The building in Sibiu will have two floors with a total surface area of 7,000 sqm, including a laboratory of over 1,000 sqm.

HORECA City Grill Group to open new location in Bucharest Old Town Dragos Petrescu, owner of City Grill Group, has announced that the group will open its 16th restaurant in Bucharest, Trattoria Buongiorno la Lido, in midJune. New openings could also follow in Cluj, Timisoara, Iasi and Constanta

Laugh and Romania laughs with you… Laughter is said to be the best medicine, which means Bucharest was a healthier place to be last week. Director George Mihaita convinced many of the great actors of the Comedy Theatre and other institutions to take part in the 12th edition of the Romanian Comedy Festival, which included theater performances, book launches, photo exhibitions and Romanian movie projections. but the group is still analyzing the market prospects. “Bucharest is an interesting market, a lucky one, where the average income is almost EUR 1,500 per family. Taking into consideration this income, consumers are used to going out for dinner without needing a special occasion, unlike those from provincial towns and cities where they go out for particular celebrations,” said Petrescu. He added that a Bucharest resident pays EUR 5 for a daily menu and can make a habit of it.

OUG 25/2013 did not affect volumes on the market thanks to clients’, agencies’ and TV stations’ having allocated more people, time and legal resources to maintain cohesion and quality. Elsewhere, the radio market stagnated, while print media saw a 10 percent decline in 2013. Digital was the only medium that saw growth last year, at 12 percent. This year, Media Fact Book forecasts the digital realm will increase by 8 percent.



Local media market reaches EUR 305 mln net value last year

BCR successfully bids EUR 50 mln for Silver Mountain project in fire sale

The Romanian media market kept a stable course between 2012 and 2013, at a net value of EUR 305 million, according to estimations in the Media Fact Book 2014, a survey carried out by Initiative Media. This year, the market is expected to maintain the same value. In 2013, the TV media market stood at EUR 193 million net. According to Initiative Media, emergency ordinance

BCR has acquired the real estate project Silver Mountain, based in Poiana Brasov, and a piece of land near Snagov Lake for around EUR 52 million. It successfully bid for the plots in a tender organized on May 23 by Euro Insol, the judicial liquidator of INR Management Real Estate. The lender paid EUR 49.7 million for the residential project, which has 171 apartments, 176 parking spaces,

two commercial spaces, a multifunctional building, access roads and additional land of 206,500 sqm. The bank was the biggest creditor of INR Management Real Estate, which entered into bankruptcy in January 2014. BCR had claimed EUR 86 million, accounting for 98 percent of the total receivables.

MOST READ 1 Second richest man in Romania prosecuted for bribery after his lawyer commits suicide

2 Joe Biden’s blunder: Confuses Prime Minister Ponta with the president

3 Bulgarian salad voted best food in Europe. Sarmale come third

4 Governing alliance dominates EU elections in Romania with 41 pct of votes. Who are the new MEPs?

5 Artist Mirela Traistaru gives live art performance at Art Safari Business Review | June 2 - 8, 2014


WEEK AHEAD June 5 Realty 2014 Business Review is proud to continue its 13-year tradition of organizing the Realty event. Realty provides networking and learning support for industry professionals, who want to spot new opportunities and trends, find potential partners, meet decision makers and build a profitable business on the Romanian real estate market. Register for the event by logging on to or sending an email to 8.30, Howard Johnson Hotel, Platinum Hall June 3 Meet the Man Florin Campeanu, CEO Rentrop & Straton, is the event speaker for Meet the Man!, organized by Women in Business Bucharest. The event topic will be Marketing in the Digital Era. 19.00, Capital Plaza Hotel Energy Investors Summit The EIS is an interactive platform aiming to bring together strategic companies in the Romanian energy sector, government officials, experts, highprofile bankers, representatives of investment banks and funds and international investors. It seeks to identify avenues of cooperation in the energy field between key players, investors and decision makers. Participation is free of charge. Please register at: 9.00, JW Marriott Bucharest Grand Hotel, Constanta Hall

Romania dodges extremist wave in European Parliament elections


one of the local extremists running for seats in the European Parliament was elected by the around 5.7 million Romanians who headed to the polls last Sunday, in the third round of elections since the country joined the EU in 2007. According to preliminary figures from the central elections bureau BEC, the center-left wing coalition USD came top with 37.6 percent of the votes, seizing half of the 32 seats allotted to Romanian lawmakers in the EU Parliament. The coalition comprises the left-wing party PSD, led by Prime Minister Victor Ponta, alongside the left-leaning UNPR and center-right PC. The liberal PNL got 15 percent, and the right-wing PDL 12.2 percent. Independent candidate Mircea Diaconu, a well known actor in Romania, won 6.81 percent of the vote, while the Union of Hungarians in Romania, UDMR, secured 6.3 percent. The list was rounded out by the right-wing PMP with 6.2 percent. The party was set up this January and enjoys the full support of President Traian Basescu. No extremist politicians were successful in the ballot. Dan Diaconescu, a self-made millionaire and former media owner, failed to garner enough support with his extreme left-wing party PPDD taking only 3.67 percent of the votes. Across Europe the most significant gains were made by far-right and Eurosceptic parties, such as the Front National in France, UKIP in Britain, the

which right-wing extremists have capitalized on,” said Frantescu.

More Romanians go to the polls to choose MEPs The turnout in Romania increased by close to 5 percentage points against the previous election to stand at 32.2 percent. The average turnout in the EU 28 was 43.09 percent, close to 1 percentage More Romanians voted in this year’s point above the 2009 ballot. EU Parliament elections This was the first round of elections following the outbreak of the global fiPeople’s Party in Denmark and the Syriza nancial crisis, which has posed existential in Greece. threats to the Euro zone. During “(e.n. The Romanian) people did not this period, Romania has implemented trust the populism of extremist parties,” a tough austerity program designed said Doru Frantescu, director of Vote to strengthen its public finances. Watch Europe, an independent pollster Economists now say the country is based in Brussels, quoted by RFI radio in better shape from a macroeconomic station. He added that Romanian politi- perspective, although domestic cians have reached a consensus regarding consumption and wages in the private the further integration of the country sector have not registered significant in the EU. gains. Frantescu attributed the extremist Romania has an ongoing EUR 4 billion parties’ surge in support to the difficult stand-by agreement with the Internaeconomic climate and current unem- tional Monetary Fund and the European ployment levels across most EU member Commission, the executive arm of the countries EU. The program aims to keep the coun“Differences are seen in the north- try’s reform of key sectors such as healthsouth axis. Southern states such as care and energy on track. Furthermore, Greece, Spain, Portugal and Italy are Romania is aiming to adopt the euro in heading towards the extreme left in re- 2009, although economists have said it action to the austerity, while northern will take at least a decade for the local states such as the UK, France and the economy to become strong enough to Netherlands headed to the extreme right compete with the 18 members of the because on top of the economic issues Euro zone bloc. ∫ they have the immigration problem, Ovidiu Posirca

CEO CORNER Robert Maxim, Ensight Management Consulting

Business collaboration, a prerequisite of success Collaborating with clients in order to achieve results that improve their companies is our job. It’s what we’re constantly working on in order to reach the business objectives that count at the end of the day. For this partnership to work, a set of principles should be respected: value-adding work oriented towards reaching objectives, all based on strong ethical principles. Still, this is all easier said than done. To facilitate this process and meet the pro-

fessional standards that we believe in, we follow a set of guidelines that helps the communication between professionals in different companies, practice areas and even different parts of the world. Collaboration, especially involving clients, is a relationship that requires trust. This is how it should be, but how do you get to this point? Trust follows met expectations, and meeting expectations requires that both parties understand each other and commit to shared goals and shared responsibility. So, the first rule is to be clear about your demands and expectations, and on the terms of the collaboration.

Then, throughout the project, you must keep in mind the big picture and your objectives. Each contributor comes with a scenario regarding how things should be done and – why not say it? – with an ego. It’s important to say “no” to things that you know will have a negative impact on the project, but also to say “yes” to new ideas, as long as it helps to meet the objective. For a given period of time, we’re all a team! Be systematic! A collaborative process may have multiple phases and include various people. This is why it’s important to have a systematic approach to the work you do together,

the feedback you gather, and the entire process. This is mandatory for a clear image of your work and to really help your client. Transparency is key. Successful business collaboration is a challenge for professionals in all areas. Still, consulting is about crossing boundaries to provide clients with the know-how they need in a given context. In most cases, this is what makes the difference! Business Review | June 2 - 8, 2014


SMEs How To Local entrepreneurship and management struggling An array of financing programs from both European and Romanian institutions is meant to boost entrepreneurial skills, which are sorely lacking in Romania, especially in some areas. Discussions among experts present at Business Review’s SMEs How To event last week revealed that the issue may not be lack of money, but lack of proper management. ∫ OTILIA HARAGA Approximately 51.7 percent of managers and entrepreneurs participating in the survey, The State of Health of Romanian Management in 2013, carried out by the National Council of Private Small and Medium Enterprises (CNIPMMR), said Romanian management performed below the EU level, while 42.8 percent believe management in Romania is worse than the Central and Eastern Europe average as well, said Ovidiu Nicolescu, president of the CNIPMMR, during the SMEs How To event organized by Business Review on May 26, attended by members of the SME community. Moreover, 76 percent of respondents claim managers in Romania are unable to confront the financial crisis and its consequences. Among the main flaws affecting management in Romania, the most cited was a failure to motivate employees, with 46.53 percent of respondents identifying this as an issue. Also, 45 percent pointed to deficient or non-existent strategies and policies in organizations. “Romania has a historic handicap when it comes to motivating employees, which derives from the communist period when it was the only country in the world where negative motivation was national policy,” said Nicolescu. Companies can motivate employees via material-financial tools such as salaries and bonuses, and/or by moral-spiritual means, which are even more important, added the president. “When authorities grant 5-7 percent salary increases to everybody in the public sector, no one is motivated. Salary growth must be complex and differential, based on performance,” commented Nicolescu. Organizations can motivate their employees by taking several steps. The first is to diagnose the state of the organization from the global, economic and managerial point of view, with a focus on human resources. Second, draft a strategy and policy for the company. “Less than 15 percent of Romanian SMEs say they have a strategy and



most of them are unprofessional,” commented Nicolescu. Third, design the managerial system of the company. Fourth, a special motivation module should be devised for the organization. Last but not least, the plan should be implemented and evaluated. “However, in Romania, less than one in six companies resort to consultancy, which is a huge mistake,” said Nicolescu. “We are lacking basic entrepreneurial education.”





1. Mihaela Matei, special projects communication officer, Ernst&Young Romania 2. Ovidiu Nicolescu, president of the National Council of Private Small and Medium Enterprises in Romania Shortage of entrepreneurial 3. Petra Szavics, secretary of state, ventures Ministry of European Funds 4. Cezar The number of SMEs in Romania is Iliu, GD, General Directorate for low in relation to the population. SMEs and Cooperation, Department for “In Romania there are just over SMEs, Business Environment and 400,000 enterprises compared to a Tourism, Ministry of Economy 5. Adripopulation of 19 million. By contrast, ana Record, executive director, The in a neighboring state with half this French Chamber of Commerce and Inpopulation there are 430,000 SMEs,” dustry in Romania 6. Daniela Marin, said Cezar Iliu, general director of the program director, EBRD Business General Directorate for SMEs and Co- Advisory Services operation, in the Department for SMEs, Business Environment and Tourism, of the Ministry of Economy, during the SMEs How To event. Moreover, most companies in Romania are micro- or small enterprises while the mid-size stratum is very thin. Bucharest exceeds the European entrepreneurial average by 22 percent. Currently, 27 percent of GDP is generated in Bucharest and Ilfov County. Other counties with rich entrepreneurial activity are Constanta, Cluj and Brasov, while Arad and Bihor are also starting to make a name for themselves on this front. On the other hand, there are 28 counties in Romania where entrepreneurship is limited or lacking entirely. Currently, 46 percent of the population lives in rural areas, where the economy is at subsistence levels. “Romania is having a hard time

stimulating entrepreneurship around the country,” said Iliu. “The Romanian entrepreneurial spirit is suffering.” Regarding the current financing programs (presented on the right), Iliu said there has been no shortage of applicants. “Only one program was less interesting, involving the transfer of businesses from one owner to another, active between 2009 and 2010, which we had to drop,” said Iliu. Apart from European Union funds and those placed at the disposal of Romanian SMEs by the national government, the EBRD, via its Business Advisory Services division, also has an active program giving SMEs access to business consultancy in fields such as marketing, ITC, environment, organization and financial management. Through the BAS, the EBRD provides non-reimbursable co-financing of between 25 and 75 percent of the net

Financing programs for SMEs** l

EC COSME program for all SMEs EUR 2.3 billion budget for 2014-2020 l EC Horizon 2020 program for innovating SMEs and mid-caps EUR 78 billion budget for 2014-2020 l Romanian program for setting up and development of micro-enterprises by young entrepreneurs 11,650 newly founded SMEs 15,000 created jobs RON 21 million allocated budget for 2014 l Romanian program to develop entrepreneurial skills in youngsters and access to start financing 130 beneficiary SMEs 300 created jobs, at least RON 13 million allocated budget for 2014 l Romanian de minimis aid scheme for investments made by SMEs 1,111 beneficiary SMEs 3,000 created jobs, at least RON 500 million allocated budget 2014-2015 l Romanian program for developing the entrepreneurial culture in women managers in the SME sector 12 women entrepreneurs 24 created jobs, at least RON 500,000 allocated budget for 2014 l Romanian-Swiss Program for SMEs CHF 28.5 million total budget CHF 20 million, Swiss contribution CHF 8.5 million, CEC Bank contribution 284 estimated granted loans, at least Business Review | June 2 - 8, 2014


Romanian program for supporting craftsmanship 8 regional fairs to promote craftspeople 200 participants, at least RON 1 million allocated budget for 2014 l Romanian program to develop and modernize the trade of products and services 225 beneficiary SMEs, at least 550 created jobs, at least RON 18.04 million allocated for 2014 l National multi-annual budget for setting up and developing technological and business incubators 13 founded incubators 300 created jobs RON 6 million allocated budget for 2014 l Romania HUB project – Romania, the Country Of Young Entrepreneurs 8 Romania HUB spaces, at least 80 sealed partnerships, at least 960 students in internships in 2014 192 Startup Days, at least

*Source: Ministry of Economy ** Business Review selection

7 7





7. Sergiu Negut, managing partner, Mindit 8. Colin Lovering, managing director, Achieve International 9. Alina Georgescu, sales manager, Ymens 10. Daniel Kearvell, managing director, DHL Romania 11. Claudia Stroescu, SME Business Developer, Air France & KLM Romania

costs of consultancy projects. The maximum value of grants is EUR 10,000. “The limitation is due to our personnel capacity. We finance 60-70 programs per year. A company can obtain funds of up to EUR 10,000 in one single tranche. We grant financing of up to EUR 700,000 per year,” said Daniela Marin, program director at EBRD Business Advisory Services. SMEs applying for this program must be registered in Romania, have Romanian and private majority capital, have been active for at least two years, and have at most 250 employees and a turnover of up to EUR 50

million. Companies in fields such as banking, spirits, tobacco, gambling, weapons and military technology are not eligible.

IT solutions can help SMEs gain competitive edge Apart from fighting on the financing front, Romanian SMEs can boost their competitive edge by applying IT solutions that can optimize their business and plug some of the financial leaks. Alina Georgescu, sales manager of Ymens Romania, points out a paradox: Romania is sixth in the internet speed rankings, and yet 47 percent of Romanian SMEs do not use software

solutions. Only 38 percent make investments in IT, and just 27 percent have a website. Even worse, only 4 percent make online transactions and just 8.5 percent use cloud solutions. Bogdan Balaci, CEO of cloud provider Ymens, told BR that cloud computing technology allows SMEs to access the same applications and services that were once available only to enterprise organizations. “In a more and more dynamic market, an SME using cloud is agile, technologically updated and competitive,” he commented. Furthermore, the cloud brings great opportunities for optimizing operational costs. “In Europe, up to 81 percent of companies using cloud reported cost reductions, while 41 percent saw productivity increase and 35 percent gained new business,” said the CEO. Balaci added, “In Romania, an Ymens case study revealed that a medium distribution company increased the number of business opportunities by 35 percent and the number of net new customers by 7 percent. These were the results reported by the firm after only three months of using cloud solutions in order to better manage the relationships with customers.” Business Review | June 2 - 8, 2014


Global crisis, local troubles dog insurance market The local insurance industry is still dealing with the difficulties caused by the financial crisis, as well as some homegrown troubles. While it has made significant steps towards maturity, it is still an emerging market. Specialists told Business Review about the current state of the sector and shared their predictions of what’s next. ∫ ANDA SEBESI Romanian insurers are currently reeling after a series of blows to the industry’s reputation. Despite having made significant steps toward maturity in the past few years, the local insurance market has made various false moves that have made it look unstable and uncertain. In mid May, prosecutors and police conducted 49 searches at Omniasig headquarters and branches in Bucharest and nationwide, as part of a criminal investigation into abusive professional practices and forgery. According to Mediafax, the general manager of the company and 40 other Omniasig managers are prime suspects in the forging of insurance policies, a crime that deprived the state coffers of about RON several millions. Misu Negritoiu, president of the Financial Supervisory Authority (FSA), recently assured both the public and Omniasig’s customers that the situation was under control. He added that Omniasig was well capitalized. “The company’s shareholders have injected over EUR 100 million in the past two years and now it is doing well in terms of solvability and liquidity. It also has enough technical reserves,” noted Negritoiu. In addition, Omniasig representatives told the media that all of its issued policies were safe and valid, and that the company maintained its commitment to respect all of its contractual obligations to its customers, regardless of the results of the investigation. Omniasig is part of Vienna Insurance Group (Austria), which owns a stake of over 99 percent in the insurer. The Austrian group also owns BCR Asigurari de Viata and Asirom. The situation at Astra has also caused concern on the local insurance market. In mid May the company’s shareholders approved a plan to gradually increase the company’s share capital by RON 490 million. The first tranche stands at about RON 70 million. The measure was taken in order to relaunch Astra’s activity and improve its prudential indicators. “The success of the recovery plan proposed by us and approved by the FSA is significantly dependent on the support of Astra shareholders. Yet we are still

There may be trouble ahead: local difficulties have beset the insurance market waiting for the existing shareholders to support the plan as they said they intended to do during the AGEA debates,” said representatives of KPMG Advisory, the special administrator of the insurer. Astra is controlled indirectly by businessman Dan Adamescu through Nova Group Investments Romania, which owns 72.68 percent of its shares, and Epsilon Estate Provider with 27.02 percent. But amid the turmoil besetting the local insurance scene, there is some good news. The Romanian Post is a new entry on the market through the launch of Posta Broker Asigurare. The new entity is totally controlled by the National Romanian Post Company

and will soon apply for authorization to operate on the insurance brokerage market. “The company will present the documentation to the FSA and brokerage activity is expected to start immediately,” Dan Dumitrescu, Romanian Post spokesperson, told Mediafax.

Car-dominated market stalls According to preliminary data published by the FSA, gross written premiums (general and life insurance) posted an increase of less than 1 percent last year, while written premiums for general insurance increased by about 3 percent. Market data put

the total volume of gross written premiums at RON 8.29 billion (EUR 1.88 billion) last year. This marked a gain of just 0.42 percent on 2012. “As for the insurance market’s opportunity to grow and develop, there is potential but I don’t think it will happen in 2014. Although some insurance categories will post an increase, I expect overall stagnation for the market,” says Anca Babaneata, CEO at Gothaer Asigurari Reasigurari. “If we look strictly at policies, the Romanian market is dominated by car insurance. But both Gothaer and other insurers on the market want to see development on other non-car business lines too. For example, 30 percent of our portfolio Business Review | June 2 - 8, 2014


Calin Matei, deputy general manager at Groupama Asigurari

Anca Babaneata, CEO Gothaer Asigurari Reasigurai

Marius Popescu, general manager at ING Asigurari de Viata

Top 10 life insurance companies in 2013 Company

GWP (RON mln)

1. ING Asigurari de Viata 2. Metropolitan Life (e) 3. BCR Asigurari de Viata VIG (e) 4. Allianz Tiriac 5. Asirom VIG 6. Generali Romania 7. BRD Asigurari de Viata 8. Grawe Romania 9. Eurolife ERB Asigurari de Viata 10. Groupama Asigurari

560 255 221 95 89 84 70 50 44 42

(e) - estimate GWP - Gross Written Premiums

A long march to maturity Source:


is CASCO and we don’t want that fig- percent on 2012, to reach total gross ure to rise. Instead, we intend to con- written premiums of RON 1.65 billion, solidate our position and develop while in the first two months of 2014 segments like property, agro, travel, they decreased by 6.96 percent on the warranties, products for SMEs and same period of 2013, to RON 243.45 specialized industries like renew- million. The fall is mainly due to the reporting adjustments made by a ables.” Macroeconomic indicators have a company on the local life insurance significant influence on the insurance scene. “The life insurance market market, but their effects start to be hasn’t managed to improve its posivisible after 9-12 months. Correlation tioning even though interest rates are with other markets, like the auto sec- low and life insurance policies have tor, is much more obvious. “The de- become more competitive. From our cline of the car market in 2013 perspective this is contradictory,” say generated a significant drop in representatives of Allianz Tiriac. They CASCO insurance. In such a context, add that the company will remain Groupama managed to maintain its proactive on this market segment and volume of written premiums on this are convinced that life insurance business line and become the second products will be increasingly considbiggest CASCO insurer,” says Calin ered profitable alternatives that comMatei, deputy general manager at bine savings with financial protection. “It is possible that deductibility will Groupama Asigurari. boost the life insurance segment,” they add. Life insurance market Marius Popescu, general manager struggles to survive 2013 was another tough year for the at ING Asigurari de Viata, says that the life insurance market as a result of the poorly funded public sector has made poor economic growth, limited op- Romanians think more carefully portunities for individuals to save and about their financial protection needs the various strategies adopted by and the benefits that a life insurance companies active in the industry. Ac- policy can offer. “This is a qualitative cording to FSA data, the Romanian evolution that will consolidate as inlife insurance market dropped by 8.27 comes increase again. It will have a positive influence on the life insurance industry,” says Popescu. As for Top 10 insurance the main trends, the GM says that incompanies in Romania surers are focused on developing the market and increasing the benefits for in 2013 (total market) their customers. “Eleven players GWP Company launched fifteen life insurance prod(RON mln) ucts last year. This confirms that companies are seeking to offer products 1. Astra Asigurari (e) 1,070 that are adapted to the current needs 2. Allianz Tiriac 919 of the public,” adds the ING general 3. Omniasig VIG 881 manager. According to him, the first 4. Groupama Asigurari 727 two months of 2014 confirm that cus5. Uniqa Asigurari 570 tomers prefer traditional products 6. ING Asigurari de Viata 560 that are affordable and simple. 7. Asirom VIG 544 “We estimate an increase of below 5 8. Euroins Romania 513 percent for the life insurance market 9. Carpatica Asig 482 in 2014, excluding the adjustments of 10. Generali Romania 439 gross written premiums made by a local life insurance company. But it (e) - estimate has significant potential to grow on GWP - Gross Written Premiums the long term, considering the size of

ers try to find a balance between their market share and profitability. As for us, we chose last year to cut significantly our exposure on the RCA segment and concentrate our efforts and attention on new customer segments and the quality of the services attached to our products,” adds Matei. As for the most dynamic segment of the market, specialists say that health insurance products were riding a wave last year. “At Allianz Tiriac, group health insurance posted growth in 2013. It is encouraging and shows increased interest from employers in such products, which are offered as a benefit in salary packages. This could be supported and consolidated by increasing the sales of such products to individuals too,” they add. This year the company launched SanaPro, a health insurance for individuals. Elsewhere, last year Groupama launched, in partnership with Regina Maria, Integrated Medical Insurance, a product that combines the benefits of medical insurance with those of a medical subscription. “There are over 30,000 insured individuals one year since the launch,” adds Matei of Groupama.

population, poor penetration rate of life insurance policies and the great need for protection. Last but not least, the deterioration of demographic indicators and difficulties that the Romanian state faces in providing a decent level of social protection have made people aware of the importance of saving through the private system in order to supplement their retirement income,” says Popescu.

Health insurance looking robust One visible trend on the local insurance market in 2013 was the slight increase in RCA prices. “From our perspective, if this trend continues it will show that things are moving towards realistic and sustainable prices and a better market situation. Clarifying the legal framework for compulsory home insurance is another significant step for the market,” say Allianz Tiriac representatives. Matei of Groupama Asigurari agrees that the local sector is on its way to consolidation and maturity. Although RCA and CASCO make up a significant weight in insurers’ portfolios, top companies are paying more attention to other business lines. “The majority of insur-

Romania is without doubt still an emerging market, and so too is the local insurance sector. The insurance penetration rate is still very low, far below the figures in more developed countries in the region.A mature market needs stability, and requires a solid, coherent and predictable legalinstitutional framework that enables companies to develop long-term strategies and forecasts. Another factor is the financial stability of market players and their likelihood of defaulting on the obligations assumed in their insurance contracts. “Last but not least, profitability is an indicator of maturity. And the Romanian insurance market has posted losses for eight years now,” say representatives of Allianz Tiriac.

Insurance across CEE According to a study conducted by Generali PPF Holding (GPH) in 2013, Central and Eastern Europe is characterized by large variations in house insurance. The average annual house insurance premium ranges from EUR 30 in Bulgaria to over EUR 167 in Slovenia. In addition, three quarters of Hungarians have house insurance, compared to 7 percent of Bulgarians. In Romania the figure stands at 43 percent. The study also found that Slovenians typically insure their house for over EUR 150,000, compared to EUR 32,000 in Croatia and EUR 23,500 in Bulgaria. The study used data from the home insurance portfolios of Generali companies in nine Central and Eastern European countries. anda.sebesi Business Review | June 2 - 8, 2014


BRIEFS Prices of old apartments in Bucharest down by more than half since 2008 Asking prices for old apartments in Bucharest have dropped by more than half between the spring of 2008, the peak of the Romanian residential market, and this April, according to data from real estate portal The steepest slump – almost 57 percent – was reported for studio flats (from an average of EUR 82,086 in 2008 to EUR 35,600 this April). Asking prices for one-bedroom apartments dropped by 55 percent (from EUR 123,003 in 2008 to EUR 55,154 in April) and 54 percent for two-bedroom flats (from EUR 149,361 in 2008 to EUR 68,082 this April).

Four Bucharest apartments located in the One Floreasca Lake residential compound developed by One United Properties have been bought by an investor for a combined EUR 1.36 million (VAT included), announced Crosspoint Real Estate, the agency that brokered the transaction. The four apartments are part of the project’s only block currently under construction, which should be completed by mid-2015. One Floreasca Lake features 66 apartments in three four-storey blocks.

Opus Land Development to invest EUR 10 mln in second local residential project Real estate developer Opus Land Development will invest approximately EUR 10 million in its second residential project in Romania, according to Mediafax. It will be located on a 2,300 sqm plot of land the developer bought earlier this year in the Barbu Vacarescu area of Bucharest. Construction works will most likely start in the first half of 2014, according to company representatives.

Mega Image ups share capital by EUR 25.2 mln to support expansion Retailer Mega Image increased its share capital by EUR 25.2 million in April to finance the opening of new stores and the construction of a warehouse in Bucharest, according to Mediafax. The retailer currently operates a network of 310 branches under the retail brands Mega Image (supermarkets), Shop&Go (proximity stores) and AB Cool Food (only one store which sells exclusively frozen foods).

After delivering the first building of The Office, a class A project located in downtown Cluj-Napoca, last week, real estate investment fund New Europe Property Investments (NEPI) and Romanian businessman Ovidiu Sandor are ready to start the second building, which should be delivered in the second half of 2015. ∫ SIMONA BAZAVAN EUR 26 million was invested in the first phase (in 19,000 sqm of built area) from the owners’ own funds and the financing has now been secured to start the second phase (18,000 sqm), said Sandor during the official opening event. The investment in the first building includes the price paid for the land where the Tricotaje Somesul plant was located. The total project will feature 54,000 sqm and should be completed by 2016. The Office is not the first partnership between Sandor, shareholder and president of Moda-Tim, and NEPI. The businessman is the developer of the City Business Centre office project in Timisoara which he sold to NEPI in early 2012 for about EUR 90 million. More than half of the first phase has already been pre-leased, with the largest tenant signed so far being IT company Yardi (which took 3,000 sqm). Tenants also include Deloitte, Three Pillar and National Instruments. Lori Collin, leasing manager at NEPI, is confident that the remaining part of the building will be leased by the end of the year, given the advanced stage of negotiations with several firms. Moreover, “this will not increase the vacancy rate elsewhere in Cluj-Napoca” as there is a huge demand for office space in the city, added Sandor. This is mostly fueled by companies already present in ClujNapoca that are expanding their business, but also by newcomers, mainly from the IT sector.

Courtesy of The Office

One United Properties sells four Bucharest flats for EUR 1.36 mln

NEPI and Ovidiu Sandor prepare to start second The Office building in Cluj-Napoca

Building blocks: The first phase of The Office saw EUR 26 million invested Cluj-Napoca is Romania’s second sqm) from Iulius Group, the second largest city, and its trained workforce, phase of Liberty Technology Park location and infrastructure have seen it (13,400 sqm) by Fribourg Development grow to become the second most attrac- and the second phase of Cluj Business tive hub after Bucharest for BPOs and Center (8,000 sqm) from Felinvest, acSSCs, say pundits. As a result, the town cording to JLL data. But Sandor says he is not concerned has the second largest office market in the country. The city’s modern office about the competition. First, he comstock (class A and B) is estimated at mented, there is growing demand for 119,000 sqm by JLL and 150,000 sqm by office space in the city and second, The Office, due to the new concept it brings DTZ. Moreover, the office market is facing to the local market, its size and location considerable growth in terms of new “is and will remain for at least several stock with four office projects totaling years the prime office destination in more than 50,000 sqm to be delivered Cluj-Napoca”. Rents are from EUR 13by yearend. In addition to The Office, 15/sqm/month. 2014 should also see the delivery of United Business Centre Tower (10,000

Is a new real estate cycle underway? ∫ SIMONA BAZAVAN The beginning of the year has seen the delivery of two major office projects – Green Gate, developed by S Group in Bucharest, and The Office, the largest such scheme in Cluj-Napoca, from real estate investment fund New Europe Property Investments (NEPI) and Romanian businessman Ovidiu Sandor. Others, like Skanska’s Green Court project in Bucharest to name just one, are due to be completed by the end of the year and more should follow. While only two modern retail schemes are due to be completed in 2014, both from NEPI, in Bucharest and Targu Jiu, several other large retail ventures such as Sonae Sierra and Caelum Development’s ParkLake Plaza mall in

Bucharest and the first phase of Coresi Brasov, from Immochan, will be delivered from next year. On the residential sector, demand for newly built homes is on the rise, and despite the banks’ reluctance to finance housing projects, some developers have announced their intention to start construction. The beginning of the year has also seen several land transactions, and judging from the statements of several developers, especially in the office sector, others are likely to follow by the end of the year. So, is a new real estate cycle underway? Representatives of real estate firms certainly think so. Demand for land is on the rise, they say, always the first sign of the developers’ return. Other market representatives are more circumspect. Any fundamental change

can only come from the banks as they lend to both buyers and developers, and so far there haven’t been any significant changes in this direction, say commentators. To shed more light on this divergence of opinion, next week BR is organizing a new edition of its now traditional Realty event, dedicated to the real estate market. The event will bring together industry professionals, from developers and real estate service firms to bankers and representatives of the authorities. It will offer insight on the latest market trends and provide networking and learning support for industry professionals. To find out more, go to Business Review | June 2 - 8, 2014

Government aims to tackle unfair competition in real estate The government is planning to tax property according to its use and not the legal status of the developer as is the case now, according to a proposal included in the convergence program submitted in April to the European Commission, the executive arm of the EU.

Flat rate: the property tax has concerned market players Authorities are also working with other scenarios for the property tax. They propose, for instance, the tax on Tax experts commented that this buildings be calculated for companies measure would help residential devel- as for individuals (based on surface, loopers, as they would have to pay less in cation and construction type). Only the taxes than under the current computa- tax rates would be different, depending on the use of the building, but Jution mechanism. “Another less obvious aspect is the rubita said this would be hard to elimination of ‘unfair competition’ be- implement because the country lacks tween the developers of residential complete real estate records. She suggested as an alternative the projects depending on whether they are individuals or companies,” Daniel use of independent experts’ evaluaPetre, director at Deloitte Tax, told BR. tions in determining the taxable value At present, the annual tax levied on of buildings owned by both companies property owned by companies can and individuals. This would generate reach 1.5 percent of the building’s book additional costs that neither the local value, while an individual could pay up authorities nor taxpayers would be to ten times less for the same building. willing to pay. “A quick and radical change in the “This difference has led to the distortion of competition in the rental mar- property taxation system will probably ket and so should be adjusted,” not be possible, owing to further obstaAlexandru Milcev, tax partner at pro- cles, such as the costs of a major adapfessional services firm EY Romania, tation of local tax authorities’ IT systems and political resistance from told BR. However, companies will also have the local authorities, but we will probto pay the new construction tax, so the ably see a gradual change in this repotential gain would be wiped out, ac- spect in the coming years,” said cording to Ramona Jurubita, tax part- Jurubita. ner and deputy head of taxation at professional services firm KPMG.


PROPERTY 11 Business Review | June 2 - 8, 2014


Swan’s pas de deux with prima ballerina Bianca Fota Bucharest National Opera is re-booting Romanian choreographer Gheorghe Iancu’s Swan Lake ballet, a twist on Oleg Danovsky’s first staging which gave Iancu his inspiration. Since 2008, when Iancu first brought this performance to the stage, the artists have grown spiritually, artistically and physically, he says. Chief among them, prima ballerina assoluta Bianca Fota made her debut as Odette/Odile back then and returned this season. BR asked what it feels like to play the most coveted role in ballet. The Odette-Odile interpretation is a transition from positive to negative, quite simple to perform as the two characters have different personalities and I treat them as separate entities. But when it comes to the Mother Queen character, the performance changes, as in my opinion this character stands for Gheorghe Iancu’s immortal creativity. From all the characters of Swan Lake, which means a full range of dancers, the Mother Queen’s dance has something special and unique, almost Gheorghe Iancu himself.

OANA VASILIU You had your debut on the Bucharest National Opera stage with this version of Swan Lake, but in a different format. Was it difficult to readapt? I consider the latest performance a premiere, mostly because the ballet company is not the same as it was for the 2008 premiere: several seasons have passed and probably 80 percent of the company are newcomers. We started to work on this new performance in June

How was your collaboration with choreographer Gheorghe Iancu for this performance? I have been working with Gheorghe Iancu for several years now and I have learned to mix the choreographer’s demanding technical requirements with my own personality, as a ballet dancer should do.

On the new production of Swan Lake l

Gheorghe Iancu choreographer “I believe that tradition draws the public, because what I have chosen to keep from the classical interpretation is the chef-d’oeuvre element, which is immortal”. l


Iurie Florea conductor “A symbol of Russian ballet, this masterpiece has become, over time, a veritable emblem of universal classical dance. Every major company has included this outstanding spectacle in its creative repertoire. What I particularly like about this new performance is that more pages of Tchaikovsky’s score are interpreted than in other productions”.

Courtesy of Bucharest National Opera

Johan Kobborg artistic director of the Romanian National Ballet About Bianca Fota: “Her excellence, unique qualities and complete dedication serve as an inspiration, not only to her present colleagues, but to future generation of Romanian female dancers”. 2013, and although the roles are the same as in the previous performance, the approach was different. What does Swan Lake mean to you? First and most important, Swan Lake is a dream that became reality, the dream that every little girl has when she starts taking ballet classes, and also the dream of every classical ballet dancer. The roles are all complex and it is difficult to stage as it has four acts and lasts almost two and a half hours. It also entails a variety of positive and negative feelings, according to the role you play in the performance.

This season, you are playing the main characters in the performance and also the Mother Queen. How hard it is to interpret three roles in the same show? My relationship with Swan Lake started a long time ago, since when I have played most of the roles, from a supporting character in the Neapolitan Dance scene, on my debut, to the small swan, big swan, Mother Queen and Odette, the most complex of all characters. In terms of interpretation, I think of Odette, Odile and the Mother Queen as distinct characters.

Do you have a costume in this performance that you enjoy particularly? Although is quite difficult to perform with the Mother Queen’s Cloak on stage, I believe it is the most beautiful costume I have to wear for this performance, both elegant and imposing. How is the transition from the rehearsal room to the general rehearsal and then the performance before the general public? The surface of the stage loads me, giving me energy. As a mature dancer I can say that I don’t have overwhelming emotions but constructive ones when it comes to performances. Of course, I like it much more on stage with an audience wanting to see what I and my colleagues have to offer them. This month, Bianca Fota will debut in Iancu’s latest performance Women as Masa, on June 7, and in the main role of La Sylphide choreographed by Johan Kobborg, on June 22. She will also play the Queen Mother in Swan Lake, on June 11. All performances take place at Bucharest National Opera, at 19.00. Business Review | June 2 - 8, 2014





String theory

DEBBIE STOWE Director: Alex van Warmerdam Starring: Jan Bijvoet, Hadewych Minis, Jeroen Perceval, Alex van Warmerdam, Tom Dewispelaere, Sara Hjort Ditlevsen On at: Grand Cinema and More, Hollywood Multiplex. Cinemateca Union, Elvira Popescu (French Institute), NCRR (Peasant Museum)

Known as one of the most significant contemporary specialists in historical interpretation and plucked string instruments, such as the vihuela, lute and guitar, Spanish musician Jose Miguel Moreno was in Bucharest for a concert organized by the Cervantes Institute. He talked to BR about his work restoring historical instruments and popularizing this type of interpretation.

Courtesy of Cervantes Institute

It’s grim up north. Specifically, northern Europe. At least, it is according to the Scandi noirs, with their rapes, murders and pedophilia. Then there’s all that pickled herring to eat. Grim. And if Dutch Palme d’Or nominee Borgman is anything to go by, things are just as bleak in the Netherlands. Our titular anti-hero is… well, actually I don’t know what he is. I spent the whole film wondering and was no wiser by the end. Suffice it to say you wouldn’t welcome him into the bosom of your family home. Nor am I sure how to categorize the film. It’s not your typical home invasion movie – they don’t involve shapeshifting. It’s not really a fairy tale – they don’t feature swanky suburban show-homes and luxury sedans. It’s not exactly horror/fantasy – they are rarely as wry. But despite being deliberately vague about his protagonist and genre, director Alex van Warmerdam has delivered a highly enjoyable and engaging thriller – with a dash of delicious black humor – which grips the viewer for most of its nearly two-hour run time. Borgman (Jan Bijvoet) starts out living in a pit in the forest. Property prices these days, eh? But he and his subterranean cohorts are forced to go on the run when a mob-handed priest turns up

and with his heavies smashes up the sylvan hideout. Scruffy Borgman then pitches up in a posh neighborhood, where he starts knocking on doors to ask if he can have a bath. Points for trying. Unsurprisingly he’s given short shrift, even earning a beating from a stressed out executive, Richard (Jeroen Perceval), when he won’t take no for an answer. But Richard’s bleeding-heart liberal wife Marina (Hadewych Minis) takes pity on the apparent hobo and hides him in one of the family’s outhouses for a few days, feeding and nursing him while he recovers from his cuts and bruises. So begins the process by which Borgman gradually insinuates himself into the family home and the minds of its occupants, the couple, their three young children and the Danish au pair (Sara Hjort Ditlevsen). It’s a while until Borgman reveals his true colors, and there is tension as the film trundles along leaving us wondering what the bearded stranger’s intentions are. Even once we (sort of) know, it’s still impossible to predict exactly where things are heading. Despite the bizarre tangents the story takes, van Warmerdam is able to embed plenty of real-world comedy, with the earnestness and arrogance of the upper middle classes skewered as brutally as some of the hapless victims. And Borgman’s motley crew of henchmen and women is also played for dark laughs. As unsettling as it’s funny, as suburban as it’s otherworldly, Borgman is a smorgasbord of genres, but is an unfailingly intriguing and unique film. One that could only have been made in Northern Europe.

SIMONA FODOR What attracted you to historical interpretation? I like going to the original sources, rediscovering forgotten composers and also forgotten instruments. And, with this, being able to offer something very big to the public, who normally don’t have access to it. They have access to paintings, architecture but not to music. How do you know you have managed to produce an instrument as it was done centuries ago? With some instruments it is easy because there are many still left, for instance the post-romantic guitar or the baroque guitar, with which there is no problem, or the lute. There is a problem with the vihuela (e.n. a 15th-16th century guitar-type string instrument in Spain, Portugal and Italy) because there are only three left in the world and they are not originals. But there is the music of the period, and much written information.

Divine intervention: mysterious Borgman is hunted by a heat-packing priest

How can the sound of a string instrument in the 16th century be evaluated? And how is it different from the sound of a contemporary instrument? In the 16th century they were looking for a certain sound, just as they were developing a specific poetry or architecture. There is an esthetics of the time that is very important. And so the

music was written according to the Renaissance esthetics. And the Renaissance esthetics of Romania is not that same as that of Germany or Spain. And it keeps changing all the time. So the contemporary sound is for contemporary taste and the sound of a vihuela belongs to the esthetics of the 16th century. It is neither better nor worse. It is different. Technically, what makes it different? The construction of the instrument, its shape, the type of strings that are used, the tension of the strings and also the use of the techniques of the time. To play the vihuela one cannot use the techniques of the modern guitar because it wouldn’t sound of anything. One needs to use techniques appropriate to the vihuela. Likewise, if the techniques of the vihuela were used on a modern guitar, it would not make the right sound either. What are you currently working on? I’ve been to Holland and Canada for some programs involving other baroque instruments and I will be going to Portugal too. Among the most recent projects I’ve done was one involving German music. I recorded [David] Kellner, [Johann Gottfried] Conradi and Bach, ‘De Occulta Philosophia’. Recordings by J.M. Moreno are available at Business Review | June 2 - 8, 2014


WHO’S NEWS BR welcomes information for Who’s News. Submissions may be edited for length and clarity. Get in touch at

Roxana Alexe

is the new senior product development manager at Provident Financial Romania. She has over ten years of professional experience in project and product management and another ten years in financial analysis. During her career she has worked for companies such as Citibank, where she has spent the past eight years, ExxonMobil and Procter & Gamble. Alexe graduated from the Polytechnic University in Bucharest and holds an MBA from Central European University (CEU) in Hungary.

Constantin Bratu

was elected earlier this month as the new president of Eco – Rom Ambalaje, an organization responsible for meeting the recovery and recycling targets for packaging introduced on the market. Bratu has been general director of the Brewers of Romania Association since 2005. He is also on the boards of directors of the Romalimenta Federation, the Romanian Advertising Council (RAC) and the Brewers of Europe Association. He graduated from the Faculty of Finance, Insurance, Banking and Stock Exchange, part of the Academy of Economic Studies in Bucharest, and holds an executive MBA from Asebuss in partnership with Kennesaw State University. Bratu is replacing Mugurel Radulescu, Coca Cola HBC Romania public affairs and communication manager for Romania and Moldova, who had held the position for ten years.

Hans Kort

has joined Romanian ERP provider TotalSoft as international sales director. He has 20 years of experience in technical sales, with a focus on IT, gained at international companies such as Microsoft, ReadSoft and HP, where he held management po-

sitions at regional and global level. Kort has a significant background in sales management at international level, having worked in countries including the Netherlands, Russia and Sweden. He graduated from the University of Amsterdam, and speaks fluent Dutch, German, Russian, Spanish and English.


Maarten Koudenburg

is the new supply chain director for Heineken Romania, a role he will take up on June 1. He is replacing Ed Van Willengen in the management team, following the latter’s appointment as supply chain director for Heineken Russia. Koudenberg started working for Heineken Netherlands in 2001, since when he has held several positions in the supply chain team. In 2010, he was appointed supply chain director for Societe Nouvelle de Brasserie in Tunisia and in 2012 he took over the position of area supply chain director for the Africa and Middle East region.

Alina Mihaila

has been promoted to partner by NTMO, the associated law firm of KPMG Legal in Romania. She has been assisting clients in various sectors for 15 years, advising them on commercial and corporate law. Mihaila has worked on projects involving energy and utilities, real estate, privatization, mergers & acquisitions and corporate restructuring.

Sebastian Olteanu

has been promoted to partner by NTMO, the associated law firm of KPMG Legal in Romania. He has worked in the local legal system for 12 years and has specialized in financial services and M&As. Olteanu has advised clients on commercial and corporate law, covering banking and finance, investments and transactions.

FOUNDING EDITOR Bill Avery PUBLISHER Anca Ionita EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Simona Fodor JOURNALISTS Otilia Haraga - senior journalist, Simona Bazavan, Ovidiu Posirca, Oana Vasiliu COPY EDITOR Debbie Stowe PHOTO EDITOR: Mihai Constantineanu

ISSN No. 1453 - 729X


LAYOUT Beatrice Gheorghiu ART DIRECTOR Alexandru Oriean

Conductor Keri Lynn Wilson is a familiar face for the Romanian public

Bucharest National Opera Premiere: June 6, 19.00 Next performances: June 8, June 13, June 15 Director Alfred Kirchner presents to the Bucharest public his latest performance, Tosca, the opera that Giaccomo Puccini himself described as “not a romantic and poetic opera, but a passionate, searing and somber one”. The first performances will be conducted by the Canadian Keri Lynn Wilson, known to Romanian audiences from the George Enescu International Festival and other events at the Bucharest National Opera. The other special guests are soprano Iano Tamar, tenors Marcello Giordani, Daniel Magdal and Bogdan Zahariea and baritone Luis Ledesma. German director Alfred Kirchner staged Puccini’s Tosca in 2001, in Frankfurt, and seven years later revived the production with the scenographer Karl Kneidl at the Viennese Volksoper. The Austrian staging was replicated by the Bucharest National Opera and will premiere on June 6. Tosca contains depictions of torture, murder and suicide, as well as some of Puccini's best-known lyrical arias, and has inspired memorable performances EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR George Moise SALES & EVENTS DIRECTOR Oana Molodoi SALES & EVENTS Sales managers: Ana-Maria Nedelcu, Oana Albu, Raluca Comanescu MARKETING Ana-Maria Stanca, Ana Maria Andrei, Iulia Mizgan PRODUCTION Dan Mitroi DISTRIBUTION Eugen Musat

Tenor Marcello Giordani

by many of the world’s leading opera singers. Puccini’s aim was to create a realistic world on stage that included the specific locale of the drama, so he included in his music sounds that give the sense of a real place, as in the opening of Act III, notes the Royal Opera House.

PUBLISHER Bloc Notes Media ADDRESS No. 10 Italiana St., 2nd floor, ap. 3 Bucharest, Romania LANDLINE Editorial: Office: EMAILS

Business Review Issue 20/2014 June 2 - 8  

Home-grown troubles plus the effects of the financial crisis have put the local insurance sector, an emerging market, under pressure.

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