Page 1

News: Dragos Anastasiu, CEO of Eurolines, says that under the recentlysigned partnership with German travel company TUI, 25 of the local operator’s agencies will be rebranded, while the Eurolines network is planned to reach 100 agencies over the next three years »page 4

ROMANIA’S PREMIERE BUSINESS WEEKLY

September 26 - October 2, 2011 / VOLUME 16, NUMBER 33

COUNTRY FOCUS: MOLDOVA DESPITE THEIR GEOGRAPHICAL PROXIMITY, MOLDOVA AND ROMANIA ARE STILL CATCHING UP ON MUTUAL BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES »PAGE 14

REFINANCING As their customers increasingly take the option to refinance, local lenders are getting more active on the segment, rolling out new promotional campaigns for this type of product »pages 10-13 Dreamstime

RESTAURANT The James Joyce pub is trying to embrace gastro pub principles. Read this week’s restaurant review for our critic’s verdict on how they do with the concept » page 16

NEWS Google Enterprise partner Revevol has opened an office in Romania in association with Appnor, and is aiming for a EUR 1 mln turnover by the end of the year » page 6

LINKS After a slowdown in 2009, the camera market in Romania has snapped back, encouraged by new model launches and the local appetite for technology » page 8


www.business-review.ro Business Review | September 26 - October 2, 2011

BUSINESS AGENDA 26 September 12:00 Mobile Monday will organize a press conference on the first day of the East European Developer Summit at World Trade Plaza (Expo Zone). Research in Motion representatives are among the guest speakers. By invitation only. September 27 09:00 TeamNet is organizing an event to mark the launch of its new program for SMEs using the cloud computing platform at 18 Lounge. By invitation only. September 27 14:00 Cargill will organize a press conference to mark the launch of a new silo at Drobeta Turnu Severin, Mehedinti County. By invitation only. September 27 10:00 Kevin Arnold, CEO of NEXIA, will speak about Romania's economic development in an event organized at Majestic Hotel. By invitation only. September 27 19:00 Wu Xing will host an event to celebrate 12 years of activity in Romania at Embassy 18. By invitation only. September 28 10:00 Jean-Marie Dru, chairman of TBWA\Worldwide advertising agency, will speak in a conference organized at the Ark. By invitation only. September 28 10:00 Imtech ICT Romania organizes a press conference to mark its launch on the Romanian market. By invitation only. September 28 19:00 The Association of Integrative Medicine is holding a press conference to communicate the partial results of PACES, a project for the reintegration of disabled people at CONSIM center. By invitation only. Jean-Marie Dru, president of TBWA\Worldwide, leads a conference on effectiveness in advertising. The event takes place at The Ark, the creative mall where TBWA\Bucharest is located. By invitation only. September 29 09:00 Medien Holding organizes the Romanian Agribusiness Conference, at Intercontinental Hotel. Representatives of political institutions, investors, banks and consultancies will attend. By invitation only.

NEWS 3

NEWS in brief RETAIL Carrefour Romania opens 38th supermarket Carrefour Romania has opened a new supermarket in Voluntari, on Pipera Boulevard. This brings the French retailer’s local network to 38 stores. The new unit has a sales area of 460 sqm and sells about 5,000 products. Over 20 percent of the supermarket’s range is made up of the firm’s private label products. In addition to the supermarket network, Carrefour also has 23 hypermarkets on the local market.

KFC opens restaurant with coffee shop space Fast food chain KFC has opened the first outlet in Bucharest with a dedicated coffee shop space. Located in the Dorobanti area of the capital, the new location has a 374-sqm surface, out of which 40 sqm are for the coffee shop. The total investment in opening the new venue was EUR 600,000. The estimated turnover for the first operating year of KFC Dorobanti is around EUR 1.5 million. The KFC network is operated in Romania under a franchise system by US Food Network. KFC Dorobanti is the 41st outlet in Romania, the seventh street restaurant in Bucharest and the 16th in the country. In December of last year McDonald’s opened its first local McCafe coffee shop in the Unirea Shopping Center in Bucharest.

Afi Palace Cotroceni sees sales rise 30 percent over summer Shopping center Afi Palace Cotroceni has announced that its sales increased by 30 percent in June and July, to EUR 27.5 million. The same hike was reported in August, says the company. On weekdays, the shopping center had over 55,000 visitors on average, while on weekends the figure increased to 75,000. Afi Palace Cotroceni presently has an occupancy rate of 96 percent.

up a transparent and efficient reporting system once the manager selection process starts.

MEDIA Purple Mind Productions launches in Romania Purple Mind Productions, an independent TV production company that makes documentaries and journalistic content, has officially launched on the Romanian market. “We founded Purple Mind Productions to facilitate the access of international media to a variety of subjects of global interest in the countries where we are represented. Currently our team is made up of 31 journalists,” said Liliana Ciobanu, founder and executive manager of the company. The company targets mainly the international media market and is the only TV production company that can deliver products in 11 languages. It has a network of correspondents in 12 countries: Great Britain, the United States, China, Palestine, Greece, Ukraine, Georgia, Turkey, Venezuela, Indonesia, Bangladesh and India.

Realitatea Media fined by labor authorities The Labor Inspectorate in Bucharest (ITM) has fined Realitatea Media for a failure to observe labor protection and health safety norms as well as not giving its employees the overtime pay they were due, according to dailybusiness.ro.    The value of the fine given to Realitatea has not been made public but by law it must be between RON 50,000 (EUR 11,670) and RON 100,000 (EUR 23,341). The sanction came as a result of a complaint made by the Union of Professional Journalists, which was submitted at the Ministry of Labor. The Labor Inspectorate has observed that, contrary to what is stipulated on the payment rolls, no other overtime except for the extra remuneration for working night shifts is payable.

MANAGEMENT EUROPEAN Pedersen & Partners, NNDKP and Roland Berger UNION win bid to recruit headhunter for state company management

A consortium made up of Pedersen & Partners, law firm NNDKP and management consultancy firm Roland Berger has been selected by the Economy Ministry to handle the selection of the executive search company that will be tasked with finding managers for four companies under the authority of the ministry. The consortium will prepare the necessary documentation to organize the bid to select the executive search firm and assist the Economy Ministry with setting

Parliament greenlights new Ministry of European Affairs Romania’s Parliament has unanimously voted in favor of setting up a Ministry for European Affairs run by presidential adviser and former EU Commissioner for Multilingualism, Leonard Orban. Opposition MPs did not attend the meeting. Prime Minister Emil Boc said that the new ministry would bring an additional push to absorb EU funds and prevent Romania from losing EU money.

WEEK in numbers

3.5 percent – the IMF’s forecasted economic growth for Romania in 2012

90 cents per one dollar – the average a woman makes compared to a man working in Romania, according to a World Bank study

5,700 visitors toured the Grigore Antipa National History Museum in the re-opening weekend

INFRASTRUCTURE New subway train model to run in Bucharest Spanish company Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles has won a EUR 107.2 million contract to deliver 16 new subway trains to Metrorex, according to Gheorghe Udriste, general manager of the Romanian subway firm. “The price difference compared to the other competitor, Bombardier, based in Canada, is EUR 20 million,” said Udriste. The contract, which lasts 38 months, is financed from a loan from the European Investment Bank and the state budget. The trains consist of a total of 96 cars and will replace old subway trains that have been running in Bucharest.

INSURANCE Netrisk relaunches Romanian operations Insurance broker Netrisk has announced it is relaunching its operations in Romania with the acquisition of www.asigura.ro. Besides selling insurance, the site will give clients interested in buying insurance products a comparisons of prices, along with recommendations and information on the available offers, plus news on the insurance market. The relaunching of the site is being done with a new management team led by Razvan Pavel.


www.business-review.ro Business Review | September 26 - October 2, 2011

4 NEWS SCHENGEN ACCESSION

TRAVEL

Finland and the Netherlands veto Romania’s Schengen accession

Eurolines agencies rebrand as TUI

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merce (NRCC). “Our organization has always pointed out to the Dutch officials, as well as to major Dutch investors, the enormous economic opportunities that Romania presents. [...] We believe that it will be in the interest of everybody for the authorities in The Hague to heed our call,” said Richard Reese, Executive Director of the NRCC. “Although we agree with the fact that the Romanian authorities are entitled to step up their activities against tax evasion and cross-border criminality, we believe that all controls made by the Romanian authorities should be non-discriminatory and should not target any specific industry or business community,” de Ruiter added. Germany and France have suggested two-step scenarios for Romania and Bulgaria’s accession. First, the air and sea borders will be included in the Schengen area this October, while the second phase will include the land borders, by July 2012, according to sources quoted by Agerpres newswire. Last week, the Romanian Fiscal Agency (ANAF) seized 13 trucks containing flowers, bulbs and seeds from Holland. Another three trucks were returned to Dutch suppliers. It was claimed that flowers in the transports harbored a mysterious bacteria. Samples were removed for testing by the Romanian authorities and the laboratory results are expected in the coming days. ∫ Ovidiu Posirca

Courtesy of Eurolines

inland and the Netherlands have vetoed Romania and Bulgaria’s entry into the passport-free Schengen travel zone. The two Balkan countries met all the technical criteria for admittance, according to seven evaluation reports by the Schengen work group cited in a European Parliament report this June. A NY Times article quoted Gerd Leers, the Dutch immigration minister on the Schengen area entry, as saying, “It is also a matter of trust and confidence that our collective external borders will be safe and secure… At the moment, it is clear that there are still significant shortcomings in the field of anticorruption and the fight against organized crime.” In response to the decision, the Dutch business community in Romania expressed its support for Romania’s joining the bloc. “Romania’s accession in the Schengen zone will be beneficial both for the free movement of individuals, as well as for the flow of goods. It will therefore facilitate intra-community trade and could stimulate Romania’s attractiveness for foreign direct investments in sectors such as production, assembly, transport and logistics. The Netherlands is already the largest foreign investor in Romania and we believe that Romania’s entry into the Schengen area will also be in the interest of the Dutch business community, leading to the further development of trade between our two countries,” said Peter de Ruiter, president of the Netherlands-Romanian Chamber of Com-

Dragos Anastasiu, president of Eurolines

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omanian group Eurolines, which runs a network of 52 travel agencies, has struck a deal with German company TUI Travel under which 25 of the local operator’s agencies will be rebranded as TUI Travel Center. Over the next three years, Eurolines plans to increase its number of agencies to 100. “Our investment in the first agency that we opened today was EUR 100,000 but we expect to invest between EUR 10,000 and EUR 20,000 in each agency we will be rebranding. This is only for the image side;

there will be other investments in people and training,” Dragos Anastasiu, president of Eurolines Group, told BR. The agencies will sell TUI products under the concept of Travel Hypermarket. TUI Travel Center agencies via Eurolines will offer complete vacation packages as well as individual products such as accommodation, holidays in Romania and abroad, plane, coach and train tickets, travel insurance, transfers, coach and minibus rentals, as well as a rent-a-car service. “We are developing a call center dedicated to German products. We also have a very close collaboration with TUI on product training, technology training and all this means more, and especially better qualified people,” said Anastasiu. The Eurolines agencies will end this year with EUR 28 million in sales. “We grew 63 percent in the tourism sector, 16 percent in the coach sector and nearly 32 percent in plane tickets, so we have not felt the crunch,” he added. As part of the partnership with TUI, Eurolines Group has acquired Danubius Travel, more than 70 percent of which belonged to the TUI group. “Our partnership with TUI is a long-term partnership that includes several stages. This is the first stage and we can talk about the next ones several years from now. Our biggest issue so far has been our association with coach travel. Now, with a tourism brand, we can change that perception. TUI did not have a distribution network in Romania while we did not have a brand. We have now joined forces,” said Anastasiu. ∫ Otilia Haraga

EU FUNDS

Romania targets 20 percent absorption rate for EU cohesion funds by end-2012

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omania is looking to improve its absorption rate for cohesion funds to at least 20 percent by the end of 2012, according to Ludovic Orban, head of the newly created Ministry of European Affairs, who emphasized the need to improve both the absorption and consumption rate of EU funds. From 2007 to June 2011, Romania’s balance of EU Funds (how much it has received) reached EUR 4.9 billion, and has now exceeded EUR 5 billion. However, the absorption rate in the cohesion area stood at 3.7 percent, giving Romania the lowest absorption rate of EU funds in the EU 27. On the bright side, EU officials applauded Romania's progress in transfers to farmers, as part of the rural development program and direct payments scheme Romania is phasing in through to 2017. Orban met last week with the EU Commissioner for Financial Programming and Budget, Janusz Lewandowski. The meeting took place within a conference organized in Bucharest on the EU Multiannual Financial Framework for 2014-2020. The debate centered on the future budget of the EU, with special attention paid to national budgets that are under serious pressure from austerity measures. Lewandowski stated that technical assistance was needed as well as improvements in the law that stipulates the pub-

lic procurement mechanism in order to bolster the absorption of cohesion funds, designed to create growth and jobs. If Romania fails to meet this rate, further conditions may be imposed for the accession of these funds and their magnitude may also decrease. The next EU Budget, which is expected to be finalized by the end of next year, should see Romania receive an acceptable financial package. This outcome could be endangered by the current low absorption rate of approximately 5 percent and irregularities in the projects, as some payments from the EU have recently been frozen. In the joint press conference that closed the conference, Lewandowski said that the Romanian economy was in the process of full recovery, and is on track to improve its budgetary deficit. Greece, the country expected to receive a EUR 60 billion bailout from the EU, should be given another chance, added Lewandowski. The EU has to financially assist Greece, giving the country additional time to make improvements to its public finances, although the progress made this year is disappointing, he said. Lewandowski warned that a default from the Greek economy would create a chain reaction, damaging all the economies throughout the EU. ∫ Ovidiu Posirca


www.business-review.ro Business Review | September 26 - October 2, 2011

6 NEWS ONLINE

DEBT COLLECTION

Google Enterprise global part- Kruk International to collect ner Revevol enters local market RON 2 billion of debt in 2011

Photo: Laurentiu Obae

mania, which is an association between Revevol Group and Appnor MSP. It is a completely new entity,” Dragos Manac, CEO Appnor MSP, told BR. The firm facilitates corporations’ migration towards Google Apps. Over the last four years it has helped over 300,000 companies around the world to switch. “As a group, Revevol expands very fast. At the beginning of the year there were fewer than 15 companies in the group, now there are 20 and by the end of the year there should be 30. The strategy to partner with local companies which have access to the local market is very good because it allows them to get a functional network very fast,” saidManac. Currently the Appnor MSP team numbers 15 people but 5 more will join Dragos Manac, CEO of Appnor MSP the newly formed entity. “Our clients are generally small and medium companies but our association with Revevol opens evevol, a Google Enterprise global the door for us to approach multinapartner, has opened an office in Rotional companies and very large local mania, which thereby becomes the clients,” added the CEO. 20th country to join the group, the firm Manac estimates that by the end of announced last week. The office in Rothe year the new entity will post a mania will team up with Appnor MSP, a turnover of EUR 1 million. He evaluates local reseller of Google Apps. the Romanian applications market as “Revevol’s expansion model is to parthaving potential of several million EUR. ner players already on the local market, in order to have a functional base. In Ro- “It is very hard to make an accurate estimation because there are Google prodmania there are only two-three compaucts whose license costs somewhere benies that have the required profile. Distween EUR 500,000 and EUR 1 million ancussions started at the end of May, in June nually,” commented the CEO. ∫ we met and now in September we are Otilia Haraga forming the new company, Revevol Ro-

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ruk International, the Romanian subsidiary of the Polish debt collector KRUK, expects to collect RON 2 billion of debt this year, according to company officials. The firm announced last week the launch of an educational campaign, called "Datoria mea" (My Debt), aimed at improving Romanians' debt awareness and behavior, including in relation to creditor and debt collection agencies. The campaign was based on a qualitative sociological investigation commissioned by KRUK which involved 18 debtor respondents. Mircea Kivu, the sociologist who led the survey, said that Romanians are fully aware of their debt and work with lenders in order to keep up with payments, feeling ashamed and worried if debt is starting to pile up. Individuals’ reactions to debt are different, as some will try to find a second job or secure refinancing, while others will reduce unnecessary spending or simply contact the bank that granted them the loan. Kivu mentioned two main scenarios that explain why Romanians end up in debt. Some clients took out loans when their financial situation was stable, but later worsened, either when they lost their jobs or had their salaries cut, or the loans were taken out when the situation was already bad, as an emergency measure. The study, conducted by Mercury Re-

search, revealed that repayments to the bank rank high among priorities in the family budget, along with medicines, food and childcare expenses. Isabela Iacob, managing director of KRUK International, said that the outcome of the new campaign should see a larger number of debt cases paid off entirely. Iacob added that 24,000 agreements were signed with debtors on purchased portfolios between July 2010 and June 2011. The average repayment installment stood at RON 313 for periods ranging from two to three years. Kruk's operations in Romania started in 2007 and the company reached a market share of 32 percent between July 2010 and June 2011. In the same period, the company handled 600,000 debt collection contracts, worth approximately RON 2.5 billion, with an average debt level of RON 5,000. Iacob predicts that debt levels will decline from 2012, as the effects of the economic crisis ease, allowing people to find jobs and better salary packages. Kruk International developed its debt collection arm for clients in the banking sector, financial institutions, telecoms and electricity operators and FMCG distributors. The company is also an important purchaser of debt portfolios, acquiring over 66 percent of commercial debts available on the market last year. ∫ Ovidiu Posirca

REAL ESTATE

Ex CB Richard Ellis Romania head sets up new real estate advisory company

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adu Lucianu, the former managing director of CB Richard Ellis in Romania, has set up a new real estate consulting business, Capital Property Advisors, in association with local investment banking advisor Capital Partners. The new company hopes to complete two transactions worth about EUR 50 million by the end of this year and currently has nine employees, eight of whom have previously worked for CBRE. “We are working on several transactions and we hope to close two of them

by yearend. We will announce the first one no later than early November and the second will be made public in December. Their cumulated value is close to EUR 50 million,” said Lucianu. Capital Property Advisors will mainly focus on offering services related to real estate capital markets, land transactions, valuations and research. A department for office leasing could be added as of the beginning of next year. According to Doru Lionachescu, chairman of Capital Partners, the Romanian real estate market – like many other local

industries – has become strongly polarized. In the last few years it was either those players dealing with the First Home scheme or those selling high-end projects that survived, while those focusing on the mid-market were the worst affected. The two businessmen said during a press conference that they see interest in the local real estate market mainly coming from investors in the Middle East, in countries like Kuwait and Qatar. Such investors are looking into the possibility of investing in high-end office or residential projects as well as the hospitality and pri-

vate medical services industries. Lucianu and Lionachescu added that as investors are finding refuge in tangible assets, Romania could see a pick-up in investment flows directed towards the real estate market in the near future. Lucianu stepped down as managing director of CBRE in May and was replaced by Razvan Iorgu. Capital Property Advisors’ shareholders are Lionachescu, Andrei Diaconescu, Victor Capitanu, Victor Busila – also shareholders of Capital Partners – and Lucianu. ∫ Simona Bazavan


www.business-review.ro Business Review | September 26 - October 2, 2011

NEWS 7

CONSUMPTION

NETWORKING

CEO Clubs sets up Romanian chapter

Local consumption patterns change CEOs’ agendas, says A.T. Kearney

Photo: Laurentiu Obae

Costly: Romanians spend big on basics

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industry. Consumers could also pay lower utilities bills should the state finally transform its utilities companies. A third option would be if households either willingly spent less on alcohol and tobacco, which make up a significantly higher percentage of consumption than in other countries, argues Catana, or the state imposed higher taxes on these products to stimulate a reallocation of resources. “When households’ income is higher in three to five years from now, their expenses structure will change, with food and utilities representing less than now as a percentage of consumption,” he added. ∫ Simona Bazavan

Households’ final consumption expenditure in 2011 as a percentage of GDP Country

Percentage of GDP

Sweden Germany EU 27 average Poland Romania UK Greece

48.0 57.7 58.3 61.3 63.4 65.4 74.5

Source: A.T. Kearney

omanian households allocate over 60 percent of their consumer expenditure to food and utilities and another 7.2 percent to alcohol and tobacco, found a recent A.T. Kearney study. About 32 percent of the total consumption outgoings of a Romanian household is devoted to services and goods such as communications, transport, clothing, furniture, restaurants, hotels, recreation, culture, education and healthcare, ac-

cording to the same source. In the Czech Republic, for example, just 42 percent of consumer expenditure goes on food and utilities. Moreover, while a Romanian home had a consumption budget of EUR 356 per month in Q1 2011, the Czech equivalent was EUR 855. The current outgoings of a Romanian household mean that companies that target the 32 percent share are destined not to reach their full potential in Romania until food and utilities decrease their share of the budget, said Daniel Catana, consultant at A.T. Kearney. But neither an increase in consumption nor a change in its composition are likely to happen very soon, he told BR. “The end of the year is very close and several macroeconomic indicators show that we can’t expect a significant improvement in private demand in such a short period of time, from now until the end of 2011. However, for the long term, Romania is still attractive for business people,” Catana told BR In his opinion, the composition of the expenses of a regular Romanian household can change, depending on certain criteria. One option would be for shoppers to pay lower prices for food following the optimization of the local agriculture and food

EO Clubs, the organization dedicated to chief executive officers around the world, has established a Romanian chapter. Romania is, for the time being, the only other country in Europe, besides Greece, to host the organization. By October, Bulgarian and Serbian chapters will be established, while the first quarter of 2012 should see the setting up of a Cypriot chapter. The organization aims to create a “nurturing environment” for CEOs, dedicated to knowledge sharing aimed at improving the quality and profitability of their enterprises as well as to personal growth. The recruitment of members is based on personal recommendations and Sotiris Chatzidakis, executive VP of CEO Clubs SE Europe, says the network looks for qualities such as leadership potential, ability to add value to the network, and individual interest in innovation. The official launch in Romania is scheduled for December 8, and network founder Joseph Mancuso is due to attend the event. The club’s chapters each meet eight times a year for a half-day luncheon program and a member of one chapter is a member of all chapters. The morning is spent in themed discussions roundtables and a speaker usually concludes the program. Members of the CEO Club have included Ted Turner, Steve Forbes, Michael Bloomberg, Donald Trump and the founders of America Online, Jim Kimsey and Steve Case. ∫


8 LINKS

www.business-review.ro Business Review | September 26 - October 2, 2011

Camera market shoots for higher revenues After a pronounced slowdown that started in 2009, the camera market in Romania has snapped back, encouraged by new launches and Romanians’ growing appetite for better technology. Sales figures are looking good but consumers are less likely to splash big cash without very carefully studying various offers and even resorting to specialist advice. This year we believe the entire market will take a clearly positive direction,” predicts Nakashima. “Before making a decision to buy, consumers compare prices on various websites and take care to get informed of the characteristics,” says Laza. Most consumers acquire a camera for personal use so they are interested in value over time. At the same time, there is greater price awareness, with cheaper models selling better, in line with the tough economic times. Other factors apart from the financial crisis have also bitten into the profits of companies in this industry. “At the beginning of this year we had a pretty difficult period, because of the devastating tsunami. We have recovered from that time and we have managed to grow in line with the market, if not even faster. We believe the increasing trend will continue until the end of this year,” says Nakashima. “We’d say that the camera business comes after the TV, VAIO and camcorder segments for Sony Romania.” “Cameras are a major business for Sony in Romania and will continue to be a focus point for us. This year, we have launched four major imaging products, which we believe will strengthen our position on the local market even more – the new NEX and new Alpha series,” says the country manager. On the compact camera segment, Sony has a 20-25 percent market share of the local scene. “Even though this segment is in its bex What’s in a picture: consumers have become picky, comparing offers and technical details before making a decision. ginning phase, Sony already has a market share of 60 percent on the mirror-less market in Romania, which represents 10 second quarter of the year, sales continued between 3x and 4x. The interest of the con∫ OTILIA HARAGA percent of the total market. We are confito grow by approximately 17.7 percent sumer is also awakened by cameras with a dent the trend is catching on extremely fast, compared to Q2, 2010. Sales of digital camzoom that is higher than 4x. Thus, a very looking at the fast rate of adoption in more eras and digital photo frames reached EUR dynamic segment was mainstream com“The total camera market was worth EUR 16 developed countries,” says Nakashima of 11 million in the second quarter of 2011, acpact cameras with a zoom between 4x and million in the first half of 2011, which the current situation. cording to GfK estimates. 5x and high-end compact cameras with a means 20 percent more than in the same He has also announced that in the “Romanian consumers decide to buy afzoom higher than 10x,” adds Hatneanu. period last year,” Tomohiro Nakashima, coming months, Romanian consumers The display with a diagonal higher country manager for Albania, Kosovo, ter evaluating mainly the resolution and the will be able to buy the newest Sony camoptical zoom. Currently they prefer 12 MP than 2.5 inches as well as models with imMacedonia, Moldova and Romania at Sony era series, on the shelves from the end of resolution,” Cristian Laza, acquisitions diage stabilization and face/smile detection Central & Southeast Europe, tells Business September: the new NEX-5N, NEX-7 and rector at Altex, tells BR. are also popular. Review, drawing on his company’s own A65 and A77. The segment that has sparked most inOften, mainstream compact models data. Last week, Nikon celebrated four years terest is that of interchangeable-lens camcome in a package with battery charger, The market has been reeling for some of presence on the Romanian market via its eras, which has posted double-digit growth cover, and/or memory card. time due to the effects of the crisis. After an authorized reseller Skin, with the introrates. The growth rate in this segment is “Acquisitions made over the past year effervescent 2008, it plummeted by nearduction of the new mirror-less intermuch higher than the figure for compact show that customers prefer packages with ly a half (45 percent). changeable lens camera system, known as cameras. batteries and charger included. In this way But following a very difficult year in the "1”. Two models have been released Another sector that commands much the consumer saves the time that they 2009, the photography sector was the first onto the market, the Nikon 1 V1 and Nikon would have invested in acquiring these that showed clear signs of recovery last year, attention from users is that of entry level models in the DSLR (digital single lens reproducts separately,” says Laza. Ciprian Hatneanu, director of retail and flex) segment. This is not the only thing that has technology at GfK Romania, tells Busi“As far as hybrid models are concerned, changed in customer behavior in the past ness Review. mirror-less cameras have not enjoyed parfew years, according to market players. “It’s worth mentioning that the star of ticular success in Romania so far. When it Since the start of the crisis, it has undergone 2010 was the segment of digital photo comes to cameras with good technical some noticeable changes: before buying a frames. And 2011 also started very well for features, it seems that the interest of the Roproduct, especially a more expensive one, the photography sector.” manian consumer is limited to DSLR and the consumer spends a lot more time than Sales of digital cameras went up by 28.6 before the crisis weighing up the price-qualpercent in the first quarter of the year, high-end compact cameras,” says Hatmillion EUR – the total market of neanu. ity ratio. both in the segment of compact cameras cameras in the first half of 2011, “Nearly 40 percent of the volume of cam“In the last three years, we’ve seen conand that of DSLR cameras. according to GfK Romania eras that were sold in the first half of the sumption decline, as expected, but things The Romanian consumer’s interest in year were compact cameras with a zoom are starting to look more optimistic now. photo products has stayed constant. In the

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www.business-review.ro Business Review | September 26 - October 2, 2011

Life through a lens: cheaper models are doing well in this economic climate

1 J1, through which the firm enters a new market segment, cameras with an interchangeable lens. The Nikon 1 V1 and Nikon 1 J1 are said to be the fastest cameras in the world, three times faster than any professional DSLR, which can shoot up to 60 frames per second at maximum resolution. The five best-sold camera brands in the Altex and Media Galaxy stores are Nikon, Sony, Canon, Samsung and Fuji, says Laza. DSLR cameras represent 4 percent of total sales. Last year Altex sold approximately 56,000 cameras, and in the first half of this year approximately 40,000.

For retailer Flanco, the top five brands have a different aspect: Nikon, Sony, Fuji, Olympus and Samsung. “When it comes to DSLR cameras, most clients prefer Nikon,” Violeta Luca, Flanco’s marketing director, tells BR. In 2010, a total of 13,500 cameras were sold in the Flanco network. In the first half of this year, the retailer sold over 9,000 units. Sales of compact cameras represent nearly 90 percent in the Flanco network, while professional cameras only appeal to a small segment of the pubic.

otilia.haraga@business-review.ro

LINKS 9


10 LOAN REFINANCING

www.business-review.ro Business Review |September 26 - October 2, 2011

Refinancing reloaded Many local lenders are seeking to be more active on the refinancing segment as their customers opt to refinance existing loans rather than take out new ones. The revival started last year, and many promotional campaigns have followed this year. This strategy is helping banks survive the tough times brought about by the economic crisis. ∫ ANDA SEBESI

Dreamstime

The current economic downturn has hit the whole of the Romanian economy hard, including, of course, many banks’ customers. With less money available, individuals have been left unable to pay off loans taken out before 2008. As a result, all major lenders in Romania have gradually adopted refinancing loans in their portfolio. This means, generally, that customers are given more liberal conditions to refinance their older credit. But in the last year the refinancing segment has really gathered pace, with BCR, BRD-Groupe Societe Generale, ING, OTP, RBS Romania, CEC Bank, Millenium, Bancpost, UniCredit, Raiffeisen, Banca Transilvania and Garanti all among the banks embracing the option. “Refinancing was the main trend on the banking market in the first half of this year. This is the result of the elimination of the mobility barriers to credit and a certain awakening of lenders that have seized the chance to test the market’s appetite for borrowing,” say BCR representatives. Radu Ghetea, president of the Romanian Banking Association (ARB) and CEO at CEC Bank, stated in April this year that the refinancing period was a normal, “warm-up” stage for lenders, but that it should not continue over the long term, as it does not bring about growth. “We’re all trying to poach other banks’ customers. I hope that this normal, warm-up period will finish as quickly as possible and that we will have enough interesting and good demand from customers, not just refinancing loans,” said Ghetea at a ZF seminar, quoted by Mediafax. He added that there was increased appetite from lenders to tempt both individuals and companies with attractive financing conditions. “This is possible because the banking system has managed to get through the crisis and can afford with its available liquidities to finance new businesses or existing ones that can be attracted from another bank. We are trying to offer refinancing loans and I hope this will end at some point because it doesn’t help to increase lending activity at all,” stated Ghetea. At that time he predicted a recovery of individuals’ and companies’ interest in investments and taking out new loans in the second half of 2011. While retail banking was one of the most dynamic segments in 2008, and one of the driving forces for the local banking market, the crisis significantly changed the financial behavior of Romanians. “Customers are not taking out new loans. They are just looking for new ways to

Cash crisis: Romanian borrowers look to refinance after losing jobs, suffering salary cuts or getting into other financial difficulties make savings and this is why the refinancing campaigns have been so extensive,” says Dominic Bruynseels, CEO of BCR. Striking a note of warning, Valentin Lazea, the chief economist of the National Bank of Romania (BNR), was quoted by Mediafax recently as saying that both lenders in Romania and their customers have already forgotten the lessons learned from the current crisis and that banks have started to offer loans in euro in the past few months. He added that there was a more pronounced difference between the increasing trend of EUR loans and that of RON ones, which follows a decreasing trend.

Refinancing revival Dragos Cabat, partner at eFin.ro, points out the strong tightening of lenders’ risk policies in the past few years. Banks are now facing high levels of provisioning because of nonperforming loans from their customers. “The crisis actually increased the bor-

rowing needs of small and medium com- ‘natural’ product, more so as the change in banking regulation made this product panies dealing with falling sales revenues, profits and cash flows. However, desirable,” says Cabat. The majority of banks started to offer banks avoided lending money to those refinancing loans at the end of last year, customers, especially to new ones, and with their main objective being to preconcentrated their activity on existing serve their market share and to test cusclients for whom they extended maturitomers’ appetite for lending, as they ofties of loans, rolled over credit facilities ten opted to borrow supplementary sums and sometimes increased the credit limin addition to refinancing their older its of companies that had shown decent levels of financial ratios,” explains Cabat. loans. According to Simona Lianu, deputy But things were not so simple for retail manager of the product management banking, as the shrinking incomes of department of OTP Bank Romania, Roboth potential and existing customers sigmanians’ limited interest in taking out nificantly restricted the willingness of new loans drove lenders towards refibanks to lend money. nancing. “Risk procedures were tightened and “Banks tried to find a solution or marvery few new customers were judged elket niche that allowed them to sell new igible for loans. While pressure mounted credit products in order to satisfy the on banks to resume lending sooner or latneeds of their customers in terms of the er – simply because most of their costs are optimization of their costs and time takfixed and are not sustainable when sales en to pay their rates,” says Lianu. decrease – they decided to approach the For example, ING Bank has stepped most creditworthy customers, either up its refinancing activity since last year their existing ones or those of other as a result of changing legislation that fabanks. Accordingly, refinancing loans cilitated the transfer of credits. were the easiest way to convey the most


www.business-review.ro Business Review | September 26 - October 2, 2011

LOAN REFINANCING 11

Courtesy of BCR

“It is a very favorable time to give customers the option of consolidating their credits and integrating them in a single place. Refinancing could be very convenient for a customer because this could mean a lower monthly financial burden, payment of a single rate or accessing additional sums. Plus, Raiffeisen Bank allows customers a three-month repayment holiday whenever they need it during the financing period,” says Radu Topliceanu, executive director of the individual customer department at Raiffeisen Bank. The lender has offered refinancing loans since 2006. In short, lenders say that refinancing loans offer customers the best way of decreasing their monthly repayments. And in order to attract new customers and keep their existing ones, the vast majority of banks have jumped on the bandwagon and offered competitive prices and Dominic Bruynseels conditions for such loans. In addition, the CEO of BCR new financial context has required other adjustments. “Some decreases in the margins on accustomers and lenders. The low pace of tive interest have led to new marketing new loans as a result of the current ecostrategies, with refinancing being one nomic situation has persuaded banks to of them. Almost all lenders have adopted this new strategy,” says Adrian Jantea, seek growth through signing up the competition’s customers. Meanwhile, cusdirector of the promotion & distribution tomers have greater mobility to transfer department of BRD Groupe Societe Gentheir loan from one bank to another as the erale. He adds that the bank launched its commission for early repayment is elim“ReStart” commercial campaign for refiinated and because of the higher awarenancing loans in the second quarter of ness of lenders,” says Nela Grigore, head this year. BRD has in its portfolio of refiof retail banking operations at ING Bank nancing loans both consumer loans and Romania. mortgage/real estate ones. “The refinancing race is a natural pheThe future of refinancing nomenon in the development of the retail credit market, generated both by “Refinancing activity has started to slow

Nela Grigore, head of retail banking operations at ING Bank Romania

Adrian Jantea, director of the promotion & distribution department of BRD Groupe Societe Generale

down, considering the seasonality that we have seen also on other markets in their refinancing campaigns. We expect the competition to be fiercer again in the last quarter of 2011, as lenders will fight for good customers and market share,” says Bruynseels. One thing is for sure: refinancing is riding a wave. “At present customers are more inclined to contract a refinancing loan rather than sign up for a new one. And we think that this trend will continue until the market recovers,” predicts Lianu of OTP Bank Romania. According to RBS representatives, the

appetite for refinancing loans continues to be high. But constraints may appear because of the evolution of real estate prices, which no longer exceed loan values. “The value of the property that the customer uses as collateral needs to be reevaluated with refinancing loans. It is clear that the market trend is towards refinancing. But there is still some demand for new loans, although it is considerably more limited than it used to be two-three years ago,” they say. Asked to what extent refinancing gives impetus to the lending recovery, Ca-


www.business-review.ro Business Review | September 26 - October 2, 2011

12 LOAN REFINANCING

Photo: Laurentiu Obae

Dragos Cabat partner at eFin.ro OTP’s refinancing loans give its cusbat says that it is unlikely to be a viable sotomers a more complete range of credit lution for expanding retail credit. “Refiproducts and services. nancing just shifts customers from one “All of our loans also include the refibank to another or exchanges one loan for nancing option, whether unsecured peranother with better terms. sonal loans or mortgages,” says the OTP The only true solution for retail bankrepresentative. ing is relaunching fresh consumer credit, based, of course, on a more sound risk Elsewhere, RBS Romania noticed this policy than previously,” says Cabat. He market trend early on and launched readds that refinancing an existing loan is financing loans in July last year. a good choice only when the total costs “From the bank’s point of view, conof the new one are lower than the costs tractual relations with borrowers who of the old credit. have refinancing loans are beneficial be“Total costs include interest, commiscause they have a clear payment history sion and others like the valuation of the and are educated from the financial and property and legal fees if the case may be. banking point of view,” say representaRefinancing in another currency pays tives of RBS. They add that all of the off only if the currency of the existing bank’s retail loans offer the possibility of loan is likely to appreciate against the new refinancing. currency over the maturity of the loan,” Jantea of BRD says that refinancing says Cabat. and First House loans have been the He thinks that on the short and medidriving force for the bank’s retail credit acum term, refinancing loans can help tivity since the beginning of this year. keep retail lending above water, until “The dynamic of these credits and the inthe macro and financial conditions imterest from our customers led to the exprove. “But in the long run, they will distension of our ReStart promotional camappear,” he predicts. paign until the end of September,” says Jantea. UniCredit Tiriac Bank also decided to extend its refinancing campaign, which Banks push the refinancing means that the lender is also not chargbutton ing credit commission until the end of But what lies behind the resurgence of September. loan refinancing on the local market? “Customers with loans taken out “Its success has a simple explanation. from one or more banks can reduce their Lenders have tried to preserve their marmonthly payments, in some cases by 50 ket share and test their customers’ appercent. In addition, they can pay a petite for additional sums. Plus, cusmuch lower total cost for their credit tomers have benefited from lower reif they come to UniCredit. That’s why payments. And this is more important as customers are very focused on savings,” the demand for our refinancing loans remains high,” says Bogdan say representatives of BCR. Spuza, marketing and segments According to them, the bank has redirector in the retail division of ceived requests for refinancing worth UniCredit Tiriac Bank. EUR 35 million in total during its refiThe lender has granted total refinancing campaign of secured loans that nancing facilities worth over RON 550 has been rolled out since the beginning of million since the beginning of 2011 to date, July. out of which RON 390 million is mortOTP started to revise permanently its gages. The remaining sum is unsecured refinancing loans since 2006, in line with personal loans. the change in lending directions and the According to Grigore of ING, Romaevolution of the market. nians’ appetite for refinancing their bor“The refinancing loan is successful esrowing depends on a preferential interest pecially now because customers’ need to rate and the availability of incomes and optimize their costs is more acute. They guarantees needed to secure the credit. have become more sophisticated, eduFrom the ING portfolio, the ING Personcated and informed while analyzing very al product and personal loans with real escarefully lenders’ offers, the costs assotate guarantee can be used also for reficiated with the products plus any addinancing some existing loans. “These are tional ones,” says Lianu. She adds that


www.business-review.ro Business Review | September 26 - October 2, 2011

LOAN REFINANCING 13

HOW TO SAVE MONEY WITH LOAN REFINANCING: If you find yourself paying more each month in loan repayments than you think you should, you might want to consider refinancing one or more of your outstanding loans.

Simona Lianu deputy manager, product management department, OTP Bank Romania in fact the most sought after loans by those customers that intend to refinance at ING their older credits taken out from other banks – either they are taken over with their existing balance or are supplemented,” says the ING Bank representative. Last but not least, Raiffeisen Bank offers the Flexicredit Integral personal loan (a refinancing loan with mortgage, both in RON and EUR at a variable interest rate) and Flexi credit personal loan (an unsecured refinancing loan both in RON – with fixed and variable interest – and EUR – with variable interest). “Our refinancing product has been very popular with our customers and will continue to be so as long as they can gain by consolidating their credits,” says Topliceanu. Cabat of eFin.ro believes that the success of refinancing loans will be limited on the Romanian market. “Because lending conditions are tougher, customers’ salaries lower in many cases, and collateral values are depressed, the segment of eligible clients for refinancing is pretty narrow. Moreover, the costs associated with refinancing are fairly high,” he argues.

All in the detail According to a study on the level of financial education of Romanians, commissioned by the Romanian Banking Association and conducted by GfK Romania, 57 percent of individual borrowers did not compare different offers before signing the contract. Meanwhile, 8 percent compared with one other offer while the rest evaluated several. In addition, 41 percent of those who used a financial product didn’t read the whole of the contract. “It is advisable that the users of banking products and services read the whole contract before signing it and ask for additional information when necessary, in order to clarify the terms, impact and risks that the contract involves,” stated Ghetea in a press release earlier this year. Although nearly half of borrowers did not compare two offers, individuals that signed up for a credit are more inclined than others to compare different offers.

anda.sebesi@business-review.ro

1. The need The first step is to know whether loan refinancing is right for you, which means being aware exactly what refinancing is. In most cases of loan refinancing, a second loan is taken out which covers the remaining balance of the original loan. That loan is paid off in full, with the new loan taking its place. Ideally, the new loan has a lower interest rate and generates a lower monthly repayment than the original loan.

3. Finding the right offer In order to find the right lender to refinance your loan, it's important to shop around for a variety of offers. In most cases, you won't have to refinance a loan through the original lender. Take time to consider various lenders. Request refinance loan quotes from the lenders you investigate to find out which offer you the best interest rates and lending terms for your needs.

2. Saving money One of the main goals of loan refinancing is saving money, usually through the advent of a lower interest rate than the figure being charged for the original loan. Of course, depending upon the actual outstanding sum of the original loan, the difference in the amount being borrowed can also result in a significantly lower monthly payment and a lower amount of interest accrued over the loan term.

4. Comparing offers Take your time to carefully consider each of the different loan offers that you've received, looking at the interest rates and repayment terms of each until you've found the best offer among all of your options. Keep in mind that the interest that each charges shouldn't be the only determining factor in your decision.


www.business-review.ro Business Review | September 26 - October 2, 2011

14 MOLDOVA

Motivated Moldova makes market moves Despite the geographical proximity and traditional exchanges between Romania and the neighboring Republic of Moldova, investment flows between the two countries remain low. Authorities on both sides of the border hope to change that and believe that the better promotion of business opportunities will help them do so.

Dreamstime

Flying the flag: the authorities in Moldova are advertising their country’s prospects

∫ SIMONA BAZAVAN Increasing the investment flows between Romania and the Republic of Moldova is a major discussion topic on the agenda of each meeting between officials from the two countries. Progress has been made in the last couple of years since the Alliance for European Integration came to power in the Republic of Moldova in 2009. Last year alone, 24 bilateral documents were signed between the two countries. There are plenty of business oppor-

tunities on the right bank of the Prut river, say authorities in Chisinau, who are trying to promote the country as a regional business hub. The perception however lags behind their ambitious plans and the figures tell a different story, with modest bilateral investment flows so far. “Romanian investments in the Republic of Moldova are welcome. There is a clear political message, as well as an economic one, and there is also the required legal framework,” said Iurie Renita, the ambassador of the Republic of Moldova to Romania in a recent interview.

Moldovan agriculture in figures Agricultural land areas 2.5 million ha Arable land 1.8 million ha Population employed (2009) 33 percent Share of GDP (2009) 8.4 percent Export of farm output (2009) 48 percent

Source: The Embassy of the Republic of Moldova to Bucharest


www.business-review.ro Business Review | September 26 - October 2, 2011

Taxation and fiscal incentives in the Republic of Moldova Corporate income tax 0 percent Withholding tax on paid out dividends 15 percent Personal income tax 7-18 percent VAT 20 percent Refund for export VAT 45 days Social security contribution by employer 23 percent 8 operational free economic zones 40 double taxation agreements signed and 37 operational 42 free trade agreements 36 investment protection agreements signed and operational

Source: The Embassy of the Republic of Moldova to Bucharest

So far, the main companies with operations in Romania that have chosen to invest in the Republic of Moldova have been Banca Comerciala Romana, Petrom and Rompetrol. Driven by the economic crisis, in the past couple of years the number of companies that have extended or even relocated their operations into the neighboring country has increased. In 2009, Coca-Cola HBC closed its production unit in Iasi and started up in Chisinau. It is estimated that there are about 490 Romanian capitalized companies active in the Republic of Moldova. In 2008 Romania was the ninth biggest source of FDI to its eastern neighbor with a 3.3 percent share of the total volume. The country attracted USD 198.9 million FDI in 2010, about 55 percent more than the previous year. More than half of the volumes came from EU member states. The Republic of Moldova’s GDP went up by 6.9 last year and another 7.5 percent in the first semester of this year. The country enjoys stable exchange rates and a low inflation level – an estimated 7.5 percent this year. Authorities in Chisinau are mainly targeting investments in agri-business and food processing, information and communication technology, housing services, energy infrastructure and logistics development as well as some bilateral infrastructure projects such as the Ungheni-Iasi gas pipe and two bridges over the Prut river at Leova and Nisporeni. Investors looking to start a business in the Republic of Moldova are offered several fiscal incentives, although on the downside corruption remains an issue. It takes three days to set up a company there and the capital initially required is low. There is a zero percent corporate tax and 15 percent withholding tax on paid out dividends. Personal income tax varies between 7 and 18 percent and the total social security contribution paid by the employer is 23 percent, according to data from the Embassy of the Republic of Moldova to Bucharest. VAT is 20 percent and there is a 45-day deadline for the refund of export VAT. The Republic of Moldova has 40 double taxation agreements signed and 37 operational as well as 42 free trade agreements signed. There are eight free economic zones in the Republic of Moldova, which offer incentives such as a zero percent corporate tax, VAT and excise tax exemption. Labor costs are low in the country,

with the average monthly salary reaching about EUR 190, and the labor force is relatively skilled. Bilateral trade between the two neighbors amounted to approximately USD 800 million at the end of 2010. In the first quarter of this year, Romanian exports to the Republic of Moldova increased by 33.8 percent, while imports hiked by 83 percent against the same period of 2010.

‘We have investors from China and Paraguay but fewer from Romania’ “We are the same people, with the same language and history, but the main investors in the Republic of Moldova are from Paraguay, China, Korea, Russia and Israel and not from Romania,” said Vasile Bumacov, minister of agriculture and the food industry in the Republic of Moldova this July during a Forum Invest seminar in Bucharest, on the topic of the main investors in the Moldovan agriculture sector. Agriculture and the food processing industry have been pronounced a top priority by authorities in Chisinau when it comes to attracting investments. Moldovan agriculture had an 8.4 percent share of the country’s GDP in 2009 and employed 33 percent of the population, according to data from the Embassy of the Republic of Moldova to Bucharest. It also provides over 50 percent of the country’s exports, although most of that is made up of raw materials and unprocessed products, something that the authorities say they would like to change. According to Bumacov, there is an increased demand for Moldovan agriculture products on foreign markets but further investments are required in order for the country to increase and upgrade its production capacity. “I don’t want to sound cynical but the Republic of Moldova is taking advantage of the world food crisis. There is demand for our products on external markets, whether we are talking about fruit, vegetables or meat products,” he said, stressing that there is a need for more marketing know-how in this respect. “Let us work together in this area and develop our capacity to better sell these products,” he argued. Bumacov added that the Republic of Moldova has made considerable progress in implementing international food safety regulation and that Romanians’ experience in modernizing their agriculture would be beneficial to Moldovan farmers.

simona.bazavan@business-review.ro

MOLDOVA 15


www.business-review.ro Business Review | September 26 - October 2, 2011

16 CITY RESTAURANT REVIEW

A pub with grub

Photo: Laurentiu Obae

Re-Joyce: the gastro pub experience has come to Bucharest

James Joyce, Valter Maracinaneau 1, tel 021 311 4177 MICHAEL BARCLAY Some ten years ago the British invented a new social entity, the ‘gastro pub’. Contrary to cynical expectations, this new concept did not invite you to endure the agony of Gastroenteritis; rather the idea was to give you restaurant quality food in a pub. And why not! After all the Spanish had tapas bars, the French had wine bars serving coffee and croissants, the Belgians had chip bars, Greece gave you grease in tavernas, Germany had bars serving Europe’s worst beer (German) with om pah pah music… and so on. So in order to deflect this cultural drinking onslaught, the Brits took on the cultural midgets of Europe and invented the all-friendly, wife-friendly, kid-friendly gastro pub. It was, and still is, a raging success! Bucharest as usual is two generations behind the times in all things European so new bars still pathetically cling to phony themes, such as: ‘English’ bar (a free fist fight perhaps) or ‘Irish’ bar (they have Guinness), resulting in soul destroying, boring, monotonous, character-free drinking dens that make a thinking (rather than drinking) person want to flee to the preferable sanctuary of drinking alone on a park bench! So step forward James Joyce pub who have made an effort to break the local bar ’mold’ by embracing gastro pub principles. Can they pull it off? Well read on and see. It is situated on the fringe of Cismigiu, on the Sala Palatului side of the park. There is nothing attractive about the place, it’s all rough wood, rough walls, rough floors – in other words, a pure pub. It begs for a woman’s eye to soften the place and give it a real décor with mood lighting, artifact decoration, plants and bright, soft cushioned seating. But let’s get down and see how the food can or cannot do the talking. The menu is brave and creative. We passed on their wide ranging and hugely tempting American breakfast offerings, purely because they are not open at breakfast time. Hey folks, this is an example of pure Irish logic. So we started with a simple hamburger. The House has wisely rejected the absurd Bucharest trend of using Argentinean

beef, which we expect to be grazed on the Argie Pampas, but tastes as if it was fed instead on Pampers. Romanian beef can be perfect, and the House proved it with their burger, resplendent with options of cheeses, bacon etc at RON 36, together with excellent chips. Away we go to a failure: two well priced ‘Shepherd’s pies’ at a mere RON 22. Blondie saw the word ‘shepherd’ and thought the pies would arrive in a wooly sheep’s head. Well, that’s a Romanian blonde for you! I patiently explained that it was simple minced beef pie, with onion, carrot and peas, topped with mashed potato. But it had no seasoning whatsoever, zero salt, pepper or herbs. So it was utterly flavorless. I have no doubt that the House will correct this error when you go there. Away again to their ‘cod and chips’ at RON 36. This is the house’s attempt at emulating the quintessential Brit dish of ‘fish n chips’. It is not as simple as it seems. You must use a perfect (snitzel) batter and then the chips must be left to cool and then cooked again. The fish was perfect, the chips were almost perfect. But again, Irish logic kicked in because this beauty was only available on Thursdays. Off to their ‘duck confit’, a dish which every restaurant in town should have because it is good for the House. Once you have slow cooked the duck leg, you cover it in its own rendered liquid fat and leave it in a normal fridge for up to three months. After that, you gently reheat it, and the meat falls off the bone. Although it was perfect and presented in a berry sauce, I thought it was too pricey at RON 50. But what was not pricey was their ‘pork fillet cooked in a white wine and mustard sauce’ at RON 36, accompanied by veg and mashed potato. First rate. So was their superb smoked rack of pork ribs, which comes in two varieties, large or small. Both boast a sauce spiced up with Irish whiskey. I do not believe a word of their claim that there was a slug of whiskey in the sauce, but nonetheless, it tasted fine. Can they qualify as a ‘gastro pub’? Yes, of course they can. But I do have a complaint, namely: after over ordering a full rack of ribs, I wanted to take half of them home for my faithful dog, who had been cleaning my home, pressing my shirts and washing my car. BUT the House did not have any tinfoil boxes to use as carry-outs. Sort it, House! Otherwise it’s great… well, almost.

michaelbarclay32@gmail.com


www.business-review.ro Business Review | September 26 - October 2, 2011

FILM REVIEW

Doctor Zhivago

From Russia with love: Omar Sharif as one of cinema’s most iconic romantic heroes, Doctor Zhivago

∫ DEBBIE STOWE Directed by: David Lean Starring: Omar Sharif, Julie Christie, Geraldine Chaplin, Rod Steiger, Alec Guinness, Tom Courtenay, Klaus Kinski On at: Cinema Eforie, Monday 26 (15.00), Tuesday 27 (18.00), Wednesday 28 (18.00) The word epic is bandied around a lot these days. Truly epic films are rare; in today’s world few viewers have the time or inclination to devote over three hours to watching a movie. But Doctor Zhivago, given a brief run at Cinema Eforie in honor of the actor Klaus Kinski, has retained its huge popularity despite its sprawling construction. The film, based on the Boris Pasternak novel, is part drama, part war movie, part romance. It is the latter – along with the iconic imagery and classic soundtrack – for which it is best remembered and loved. The eponymous hero, poet and physician Yuri (Omar Sharif), and his love, the beautiful and damaged Lara (Julie Christie), are buffeted by the forces of family, society and history, star-crossed lovers who are thwarted at every turn. In what other romantic film does it take the couple a full two hours to get together! Their struggles and the lives of those around them are played out against

World War I, the Russian Revolution and Civil War, and the random chance, corruption and violence they wreak on the hopes of the characters. Yuri is torn between his burning love for Lara, affection for his supportive wife, sense of duty to his child, country and profession, his strong moral code and artistic leanings. And the huge pathos and drama are more than matched visually and musically. Long treks in the snow and peaceful protestors coming under attack by Cossacks in the streets of Moscow are just two of a series of affecting scenes, while Lara’s theme is one of cinema’s most enduring leitmotifs. It is all an appropriate backdrop to the charm and charisma of the central couple. Sharif makes a leading man who is essentially an aristocratic adulterer enormously sympathetic (plus he’s very handsome, despite the moustache). Christie’s Lara is a winning blend of temptation, vulnerability, strength and spirit. Their love story grips our attention through over three hours of sometimes testing plot. Given that it was made in 1965, few people will be coming to Doctor Zhivago fresh. But the magnitude and ambition of David Lean’s celebrated film deserve to be savored on the big screen, making the Eforie run a rare treat.

editorial@business-review.ro

MOLDOVIAN 17


www.business-review.ro Business Review | September 26 - October 2, 2011

18 IN TOUCH CULTURAL EVENTS CALENDAR OPERA Covent Garden Faust (live broadcast) September 28 Bucharest Opera House, 21.00 Tickets: RON 45

This first broadcast from Covent Garden will allow local audiences to see Romanian soprano Angela Gheorghiu as Margareta, together with Vittorio Grigolo as Faust, René Pape as Mefisto, Michèle Losier as Siebel, Daniel Grice as Wagner and Dmitri Hvorostovsky as Valentin. Evelino Pido is the conductor.

The total value of works in the auction is over EUR 500,000, with 75 percent of the works valued at up to EUR 5,000 each. Items from the auction can be viewed in an open exhibition in the hall of the Bucharest Opera house between September 25 and 29, from 11.00 to 21.00. THEATER The Economics of Good and Evil September 27 Odeon Theater, 19.00 The Czech Center in Bucharest is bringing to Romania a performance of The Economics of Good and Evil of the National Theater in Prague. Based on leading Czech economist Tomas Sedlacek’s bestseller, the one-hour, English-language performance features Tomas Sedlacek, Lukas Hejlik and Alan Novotny. Tickets: RON 26.50.

AUCTIONS Royal Romania Auction September 27 Bucharest Opera House, 19.30

Around 200 artworks with an estimated total value of EUR 400,000 will be up for sale. Items in the auction include jewelry belonging, gifted by or dedicated to members of the Romanian royal family, paintings and sculptures, firearms and books, rare silverware and porcelain items carrying royal or aristocratic seals, orders and decorations established by the Royal House and much more. Items from the auction can be viewed in an open exhibition in the hall of the Bucharest Opera house between September 25 and 27, from 11.00 to 21.00. Impressionism and Post-impressionism Art Auction September 29 Bucharest Opera House, 19.30 The Romanian Impressionism and Postimpressionism art auction put together by Artmark brings forth around 120 works of art by Romanian artists such as Nicolae Grigorescu, Samuel Mutzner, Nicolae Darascu, Nicolae Vermont, Rudolf Schweitzer-Cumpana, Adam Baltatu, Camil Ressu and Ion Tuculescu.

ISSN No. 1453 - 729X

The global financial crisis has raised many questions on the relevance of economics, which Tomas Sedlacek explores in his best selling book The Economics of Good and Evil. Named by the Yale Economic Review ‘one of the five hot minds in economics,’ Sedlacek mines the resources of myth, religion, anthropology and the arts, ranging from the epic of Gilgamesh and the Old Testament to the emergence of Christianity; from Descartes to Fight Club and The Matrix.

(presented in partnership with Cinedans Festival/Amsterdam) as well as a series of special events and programs such as: Meet the Next Generation – an intensive international coaching program for young choreographers – and Critical Endeavour and Prix Jardin d’Europe – activities hosted within the European Project Jardin d’Europe. British Documentary series October 3 – December 19

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

Sulfina Barbu a member of the ruling Democratic Liberal Party (PDL), is the new labor minster, replacing Sebastian Lazaroiu who had held the position for the past three months. Lazaroiu was appointed labor minister in June after having previously served as Basescu’s counselor. Barbu is the president of the PDL Women’s Organization. She is an MP in the Chamber of Deputies. Between 2004 and 2007 she was minister of the environment.

Mircea Danut Popescu Every Monday, starting 19.00 At the New Cinema of the Romanian Director (National Museum of the Romanian Peasant), 3 Monetariei street. Free entrance. The second British Documentary series comprises a collection of ten documentaries. The projections will take place every Monday, with the exception of 17 October and 14 November. The British Documentary project was initiated by the British Council Romania and aims to bring to a Romanian audience the best of contemporary British documentaries, awarded by the Grierson Film Festival in the UK. Featured films: Exit through the gift shop, Requiem for Detroit, Welcome to Lagos, Moving to Mars, Soundtrack for a revolution, Wonders of the solar system: Empire of the Sun.

FESTIVALS eXplore dance festival October 1-16 The sixth eXplore dance festival, the Bucharest International Contemporary Dance and Performance Festival, will include 30 performances, 15 dance films

Anim’est 2011 October 7-16, 2011, Bucharest Patria and Union cinemas, ArCub Halls October 28-30, 2011, Cluj-Napoca November 3-6 2011, Chisinau, Moldova The Anim’est International Animation Film Festival features six competitive sections (international feature film, international short film, Romanian film, student film, video & advertising, Balkanimation), the Mozaic section – presenting the hottest animation short & feature animations in international film festivals – and also special sections & retrospectives dedicated to important animation studios, directors, film schools and festivals. Access is possible only with festival tickets or passes, available in advance from the Ticketfan.ro website, in Flanco stores and at the Anthony Frost English Book Shop in Bucharest, and, between 7-16 October 2011, at ticket booths at Patria, Sala ArCub and Union Cinemas in Bucharest.

FOUNDING EDITOR Bill Avery EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Simona Fodor SENIOR JOURNALIST Otilia Haraga JOURNALISTS Simona Bazavan, Ovidiu Posirca COPY EDITOR Debbie Stowe COLLABORATORS Anda Sebesi, Michael Barclay ART DIRECTOR Alexandru Oriean PHOTOGRAPHER Laurentiu Obae LAYOUT Beatrice Gheorghiu

PUBLISHER Anca Ionita EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR George Moise SALES & EVENTS DIRECTOR Oana Molodoi MARKETING MANAGER Adina Milea SALES & EVENTS Ana-Maria Nedelcu, Claudia Munteanu RESEARCH & SUBSCRIPTION Lili Voineag PRODUCTION Dan Mitroi DISTRIBUTION Eugen Musat

National Theater London Live The Kitchen, by Arnold Wesker October 6 Live at The Light Cinema Tickets: RON 60 Set in the basement kitchen of a large restaurant, thirty chefs, waitresses, and kitchen porters slowly begin the day preparing to serve lunch. The central story tells of a frustrated love affair between a high-spirited, young German chef, Peter, and a married English waitress, Monique.

WHO’S NEWS

(40) has been appointed managing director of the mortars and construction adhesives producer Saint-Gobain Construction Products Romania – Weber, based in Turda county. Popescu holds a degree in mathematics from the Babes-Bolyai University, and also an MBA degree from the Open University. His career goes back more than 15 years, of which half has been spent in the managing director position. Before joining the company, he worked for Austrian EPS producer Hirsch Porozell, setting up its local business and local production facility.

Razvan Dragomirescu is the new managing director of PHD Romania, the full service media agency of OmnicomMediaGroup. Dragomirescu joined OmnicomMediaGroup in February 2010. He has nine years of professional experience in media and client service. Dragomirescu graduated from the International Economic Relations Faculty from the Romanian-American University and the National School of Political Studies and Public Administration.

Iulian Costea (34) has been promoted by Alcatel-Lucent to marketing director of the Middle East and Africa, based in Abu Dhabi. Costea has been working for Alcatel Romania as project manager and in December 2004 he became part of the marketing department. Two years later, he was promoted to marketing manager for SEE and in March last year he also took responsibility for the countries in the Commonwealth of Independent States and Northern Europe.

ADDRESS No. 10 Italiana St., 2nd floor, ap. 3 Bucharest, Romania LANDLINE Editorial: 031.040.09.32 Office: 031.040.09.31 Fax: 031.040.09.34 EMAILS Editorial: editorial@business-review.ro Sales: sales@business-review.ro Events: events@business-review.ro


Business Review No. 33, September 26 - October 2  

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