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3Q: Livia Aninosanu, programs director at the Center for Partnership and Equality, tells Business Review how her organization is promoting gender equality and work-life balance as employee stress levels rise on the back of the economic uncertainty »page 7


FEBRUARY 14 -20, 2011 / VOLUME 16, NUMBER 4


LOCAL SITES APE EBAY Their budgets under assault from the economic crisis, Romanians are slowly getting over their long aversion to shopping online and using auction websites as the latest way to pick up a bargain »page 12-13 STOCKEXCHANGE



Alpha mail

Delta dreams

Mediapost Hit Mail GM Marian Seitan has plans to grow his direct mailing business by 30 percent this year » pages 8

The state is hoping to make use of the Danube Delta’s touristic potential through investment in infrastructure » page 9

PLUS Love is all around us: Valentine’s Day and its local version are here » page 14-15 Jewel in the Crowne? We eat at Crowne Plaza » page 20 Business Review | February 14 - 20, 2011



WEEK in numbers

GfK report: Greeks and Romanians hardest hit by the crisis Romanians and Greeks were the most pessimistic consumers in Europe in 2010, according to Gfk. “Consumers in Romania and Greece felt the effects of the financial crisis and the high level of debt of their respective countries very strongly last year,” reads the report on private consumption in Europe. With an average of -50 points (Consumer Confidence Barometer), Romanians were bottom of the rankings in Europe, followed by the Greeks with -39 points. 2011 is likely to follow the same pattern, says Andi Dumitrescu, general director of GfK Romania. For 2011, GfK market researchers are expecting European private household expenditure to increase by a 1.5 percent and therefore make a strong contribution to the economic upturn.

97 people have been detained so far in customs corruption raids in western Romania

12.4 billion euro the total value of disbursements for Romania under the current stand-by agreement with the IMF

Universal mobile phone charger launched

CONSULTANCY PwC Romania to analyze Chamber of Deputies pro bono PwC Romania has announced that its experts will assess on a pro bono basis the administrative and expense structure and the administrative processes of the Chamber of Deputies in a premiere performance improvement project for the Romanian public sector. At the end of the evaluation process, the firm will issue a report with recommendations for streamlining and optimizing the administrative and financial processes of the Chamber of Deputies, a report which will be sent to the leadership of the second chamber of Parliament. The evaluation process will take four months and the recommendations report will be issued in May. The move is the initiative of MP Mihaela Stoica, a PwC Romania employee, who signed a pro-bono contract for the project with the General Secretariat of the Chamber of Deputies. PwC has been involved in several large scale consultancy projects for the public sector in other European countries.

Photo: Laurentiu Obae

The European mobile phone universal charger has been launched in the presence of European Commission’s vicepresident, Antonio Tajani, and Digitaleurope director general, Bridget Cosgrave. “The new European common charger is a major achievement for industry that will deliver benefits to millions of European mobile phone users,” said Cosgrave. The common charger, based on the Micro USB interface, will simplify the life of mobile phone users across Europe since consumers can now safely use a single charger with phones from various suppliers, added Cosgrave. Fourteen companies have committed research and development resources to deliver a common charger. Manufacturers will announce the release dates in line with new product launches in the course of 2011.

IMAGE of the week Ringing in the new British ambassador in Bucharest Martin Harris opened the trading session at the Bucharest Stock Exchange on February 7. He highlighted the necessity of EU funds absorption and urged Romania to improve its business climate in order to attract foreign investors, while also acknowledging the importance of the Property Fund listing. He added that the country should continue its program with the IMF, focusing on reform and not money, in response to President Basescu’s declaration that Romania no longer needs the final tranche of its IMF loan. In Poland, the firm has carried out an operational analysis of the main state institutions, while in the UK it has been involved in several public-private partnerships. The evaluation process will be performed by applying the same efficiency requirements as used for private companies.

COMPANIES Ruukki Romania turnover up 18 percent last year Ruukki Romania, the local division of Finnish manufacturer of metal solutions Rautaruukki Group, has announced an 18 percent hike in its 2010 turnover on the local market, surpassing initial estimates of 10 percent. The local office provides operations and management in Bulgaria as well. Total results on both the Romanian and Bulgarian markets show a 13 percent advance, given that the market was more dynamic in Romania than in Bulgaria. The results registered on the lo-

cal market were supported by an increasing focus on renovations in the residential segment. Finnish manufacturer Rautaruukki reported growth of 20-25 percent in net sales in 2010.

Cargill acquires grain silo in Drobeta Turnu Severin American giant Cargill has purchased a 44,000-ton grain silo in Drobeta Turnu Severin to expand its network of grain storage facilities in Romania. The company will use the silo for storing grain produced by farmers from Mehedinti, Dolj, Timis and Caras-Severin. The operational capacity of its silos in Romania will increase by 8 percent and facilitate the access of grains from the west of the country to new markets, because the Drobeta silo is positioned close to the Danube. The silo will be fully operational by September this year and will lead to permanent employment for up to 20 people. The firm has approximately 750 em-

1.3 million euro the net profit reported by the Bucharest Stock Exchange ployees in the country.

Carpatair reports EUR 74 mln turnover in 2010 Airline Carpatair, which has a hub in Timisoara, has reported a EUR 74 million turnover for 2010, a 4 percent y-o-y increase. The airline has also reported a 13 percent increase in the number of passengers transported on regular flights in 2010 and a 6.5 percent increase in its occupancy rate against 2009. Reasons behind this growth include the expansion strategy begun by the airline in 2009 and continued throughout 2010, say officials. Two new operational bases were also introduced last year in Craiova and Bacau, joining the two existing ones in Timisoara and Bucharest. Six new destinations were also introduced last year, which increased the total number of flights operated by the airline by 14 percent.

Continental continues EUR 1 mln investment in Timisoara Continental Tires Timisoara, part of the Continental Corporation, is continuing its environmental investments by commissioning 12 axial ventilators in the curing area of the plant. The investment is part of the EUR 1 million environmental protection program for Timisoara. Each of the 12 ventilators has a capacity of 14,000 cubic meters per hour and the average height of the exhausted air is around 40 meters. Continental Tires Timisoara received the last environmental authorization in June 2010, following a complex analysis. As part of the authorization, the firm has committed to upgrade its ventilation system in the curing area. By the end of 2009, Continental had Business Review | February 14 - 20, 2011


NEWS in brief invested over EUR 400 million in its Romanian operations.

Toro to build EUR 20 mln plant for micro-irrigation The Toro Company, an international loan and precision-irrigation equipment provider, has announced that it will invest EUR 20 million in a micro-irrigation equipment factory for vegetable growers, orchards and vineyards in Eastern Europe. The plant will be located in Ploiesti and will support Toro’s production in Rome, Italy. The construction of the new plant is expected to begin early this year, while the start of production is planned for late summer.

Asesoft Distribution posts EUR 145 mln turnover for 2010 Asesoft Distribution posted a turnover of EUR 145 million for 2010, a growth of 45 percent compared to the previous year, the company has announced in a press release. This year, the firm aims to reach a turnover of EUR 165 million, which would mean 14 percent growth.

Farmec Cluj-Napoca sees EUR 22 mln turnover in 2010 Local cosmetics manufacturer Farmec Cluj-Napoca has reported a 10 percent turnover increase for 2010, to RON 95.9 million (approximately EUR 22 million).

The turnover hike was generated by new product launches, marketing investments and a “more visible presence on the main distribution channels” said the firm’s general director, Liviu Turdean. For this year, the local manufacturer has announced plans to further increase its turnover by 5 percent and to move into international retail chains.

Ambient plans 15 percent turnover boost in 2011 Local DIY chain Ambient has announced that it plans to boost its turnover by 15 percent this year after reporting a EUR 104 million turnover for 2010, EUR 1 million up on the previous year, announced company representatives. The firm also reported a EUR 5 million operating profit for 2010, EUR 3 million more than in 2009.

Dacia announces new models Renault Group, which owns Automobile Dacia, will launch 44 new models in 2013 and 48 in 2016, the French manufacturer said in a statement, compared with 40 in 2010 and 30 in 2005. At European level, a new range of electric cars will be launched as well as the new Twingo facelift in 2011, the new Clio generation in 2012, and, under the Dacia brand, a family car and a light commercial vehicle, most

likely to be built on the same platform as the Dacia MPV. Specialists and journalists expect the MPV concept to be presented at this year's Geneva Motor Show next month, with the series version ready in a year. According to international media, the new Dacia van will start from about EUR 13,000, some EUR 3,000 more than the Duster.

PROPERTY MasterCard extends America House lease MasterCard has renewed its lease in America House in Victoriei Square in Bucharest and has expanded the space it occupies in the building to 320 sqm, Jones Lang LaSalle has announced. The lease has been renewed for another five years. America House was developed by GTC and purchased by the international investment fund AEW in September 2007.

Aura Investments completes first phase of Green Hills Piatra Neamt Aura Investments has finished the first phase of the Green Hills complex in Piatra Neamt following an EUR 8 million investment. The first phase consists of

two blocks. The Green Hills project is located in the southern part of the city. The apartments have one, two, three or four rooms, with surface areas between 45 and 135 sqm. The Green Hills ensemble covers 6,300 sqm. When finished, the project will have over 232 apartments.

LEGAL NNDKP opens fourth regional office in Cluj NNDKP has opened its fourth regional office in Cluj. NNDKP’s Cluj office, created by the assimilation of the law firm Cionca Bidiga Godinca, the legal division of Casa de Insolventa Transilvania SPRL, will provide legal services in fields such as dispute resolution, insolvency, commercial law, labor law, administrative law and real estate. NNDKP decided to adjust its clientoriented strategy by opening new local offices in some of the most important cities in the country. “The investments in our regional offices in Timisoara (2003), Brasov (2007), Craiova (2010) and Cluj (2011) have exceeded EUR 200,000 and the income generated by the regional offices is around 8 percent of the firm’s turnover,” said Ion Nestor, one of NNDKP’s managing partners Business Review | February 14 - 20, 2011



Coca-Cola Romania sees sales drop by 4 percent in 2010

Head of customs indicted for corruption after massive raid

Photo: Laurentiu Obae

Lost its fizz: Coca-Cola sales are flat


oca-Cola Hellenic Romania saw its sales volume go down by 4 percent last year as “challenging economic conditions together with the implementation of strict austerity measures had an adverse impact on consumer

demand,” reads the company’s financial report. The drop comes after volumes fell another 12 percent in 2009. In the last quarter of 2010, the firm’s sales volume posted a mid single-digit growth following intense promotion of the core sparkling brands in the modern trade channel, as well as the implementation of Christmas activation programs, reads the report. In the same quarter, Coca-Cola volumes increased by highteens in the fourth quarter “resulting in category share gains”. Along with Greece, Italy, Ireland, Hungary and Bulgaria, Romania is among the countries where Coca-Cola Hellenic saw its business impacted by the public’s shrinking purchasing power which resulted in reduced spending and a shift to less profitable channels and packages. In 2010, Coca-Cola Hellenic sold 167.8 million unit cases on the local market. Worldwide, the soft drink firm sold 2.1 billion unit cases, 1 percent above 2009, and reported net sales revenue of EUR 6.8 billion, 4 percent up on the previous year. Net profit reached EUR 450 million, 8 percent more than in 2009. ∫ Simona Bazavan

Dozens of arrests have been made


adu Traian Marginean, the head of the National Customs Authority, has been indicted on corruption charges, Mediafax reported. He was also dismissed from his post. The indictment comes after more than 30 border police and customs workers were detained by anticorruption authorities on charges related to cigarette smuggling, following a massive raid that involved customs points in western Romania, according to representatives of the National Anticorruption Department. Initially, about 100 border police, customs officials and suspected cigarette smugglers were brought in for questioning. Marginean appeared before prosecutors in a case of influence peddling at the

Halmeu customs, northwestern Romania. He was appointed National Customs Authority head in February 2009 and is also vice-president of the fiscal authority, ANAF. Those detained face charges of bribery and facilitating smuggling, prosecutors said. They are suspected of having smuggled large quantities of cigarettes into Romania from neighboring Serbia. A similar raid took place the previous week when 59 border police and customs workers were arrested on Thursday morning at the Siret customs, on the border with the Republic of Moldova, on cigarette smuggling and bribe taking charges. ∫ Staff


Vodafone CEO wants to enhance network capabilities, more tablets and cheaper smartphones


odafone Romania has an investment budget of EUR 500 million for the next five years, to be invested for the most part into the company’s network capabilities, according to Inaki Berroeta, the new CEO of the company, who was appointed in December last year. Other investment targets will be the company’s call centers, customer relations and its network of stores. “Romanians probably have more telecom stores than any other country,” said the CEO. At the moment, Vodafone Romania has a total of 900 outlets, either self-branded or stores owned by its partners. More than 200 of these are Vodafone exclusive outlets. The CEO said he visited the stores and met a good share of clients, mostly corporate ones. “Next month I will go around Cluj, Timisoara, Brasov, Iasi, Craiova and Constanta,” said Berroeta. He added that there are plans to re-vamp Vodafone’s on-

line channel. He mentioned social media as “a very strong channel which also brings the opportunity to have a direct relationship with customers.” One of the firm’s priorities will be to have as many affordable smartphones as possible. The range of tablets in Vodafone stores will also diversify. “I want to improve the range of tablets, so in the next period you can expect a lot of devices coming up. By summer, there will be a pretty good portfolio of tablets out on the market,” said Berroeta. Romania is still behind other countries for mobile data usage, so there is still potential on this market compared to other ones. “We now have the fastest network in the country by far. The real data download speed is twice as fast than that of our closest competitor, according to measurements made by P3,” said Berroeta. ∫ Otilia Haraga Business Review | February 14 - 20, 2011



Authorities turn down seventh tranche of bailout loan

3Q Livia Aninosanu


Courtesy of CPE

he Romanian authorities will not withdraw the seventh installment of the IMF bailout loan. “The mission has reached agreement at staff level on the seventh and final review of the current Stand-By Arrangement (SBA). Subject to approval by the executive board, tentatively scheduled for late March, the eighth disbursement of about EUR 1 billion will become available for the Romanian authorities shortly after the board meeting in March. The authorities, however, have decided not to draw the funds under the seventh review,” Jeffrey Franks, IMF mission chief for Romania, said last week during the IMF’s visit to Bucharest. According to fund officials, the total disbursements under the current SBA amount to about EUR 12.4 billion. They added that the mission has also reached agreement at staff level on a new 24-month precautionary stand-by agreement worth EUR 3.6 billion, 300 percent of the quota. The stand-by agreement will be in conjunction with precautionary support from the European Union of EUR 1.4 billion and a loan from the World Bank of EUR 0.4 billion. IMF officials have said they expect growth of 1.5 percent in 2011, rising to 44.4 percent in 2012, based on continued strong exports complemented by gradually improving domestic demand. Current policies put these deficit objectives well within reach. However, reforms must be continued, particularly in improving collection of existing taxes and in health sector and capital spending. “To generate higher sustainable growth, we need to improve the operations of the public sector, particularly in state-owned enterprises (SOEs), while creating conditions for great private sector investment.

programs director, CPE – the Center for Partnership and Equality

Jeffrey Franks, IMF mission chief for Romania In the public sector, the focus will be on boosting absorption of EU funds and on restructuring (as well as bringing private investment into) the transport and energy SOEs to turn them from being a drag on the economy to an engine of growth. Efforts to cut bureaucracy, improve regulators’ effectiveness, and open markets will help improve the business climate for foreign and domestic investors,” said Franks. Besides the EUR 3.6 billion from the IMF, Romania could receive another EUR 1.4 billion from the EC. Romania will only draw the funds if needed. Some of the reasons given by president Traian Basescu for the new agree-

ment are the need to continue state reforms and an overall risk that the situation in the region could worsen due to a possible debt crisis. “The new agreement does not involve financing, it is a precautionary agreement,” said Basescu, adding that the money that will be kept at Romania’s disposal will not be subject to commission. The new agreement is necessary as Romania requires assistance in order to comply with EU convergence criteria, said the president. Education and health reforms will continue and the pension and public sector wage laws will be implemented over the coming period, he added. ∫ Simona Bazavan, Dana Verdes


Investigation started after mine accident leaves five dead


n investigation has begun into an explosion at Uricani coal mine, in Valea Oltului, last Saturday afternoon that left five people dead. The five mine workers, an engineer and four electricians, were aged between 36 and 41. Early indications are that the explosion occurred after the five victims had reconnected the electric panel, which came into contact with gas. A second explosion took place after a team of 15 had removed the bodies; however, nobody was hurt. The investigation is being undertaken by prosecutors from the Court of Appeal in Alba Iulia. The minister of internal affairs, Traian Igas, and the minister of economy, Ion Ariton, have both visited the accident site. Romania’s mines

have a bad reputation for dangerous and rudimentary working conditions. Igas recently claimed that the conditions in the Uricani mine “were not that bad”. Mining in Romania continues to live under the shadow of the “Mineriad”. Between June 13 and 15, 1990, thousands of coal miners from Valea Jiului were called to Bucharest by the authorities to crush anti-regime demonstrations. They created chaos, ravaging the city, beating, arresting, raping and aggressing hundreds of students, professors, opponents of the political regime, Rroma and passers-by. Even now, 20 years after the tragic events, the authorities have not issued an official explanation. ∫ Corina Dumitrescu

The mining community is in mourning

Tell us more about CPE, its previous projects and achieved results. CPE, the Center for Partnership and Equality, is a non-governmental organization which, for almost a decade, has been offering solutions to improve quality of life, by integrating the principle of equal opportunities for women and men in the economic, political and social fields and by promoting gender equality. During our nine years of activity, we have initiated and developed over 30 local, national and transnational projects, with a total of approximately 8,000 direct and indirect beneficiaries. What about the current project, Work Life Balance (WLB) – how did the idea emerge and what is the aim? The idea came through other projects that we had implemented, in partnership with companies and business associations, as well as research we had carried out in the field. We had become aware of this need: managers were often saying they did not have enough information or competency in this field and we decided to fill the gap by providing the project opportunities. Also, employees, women especially, were frequently faced with lack of balance and the negative consequences of it. From the reports you’ve worked on, what can you tell us about work conditions now, during the crisis, in terms of gender differences and stress levels? During this period, stress levels have increased, as several new stress factors are present. Now, there are fewer people to do the same job, the same amount of tasks or more, and this also translates into more overtime. Women, the major risk group for poor work-life balance, have been very much affected by the new economic context, as they tend to be employed in vulnerable fields and in vulnerable jobs. Women in Romania often find themselves in the position of having two jobs, as they also end up having to do domestic chores. Studies have shown that Romania is the number one country ranked by the time spent on housework. Business Review | February 14 - 20, 2011


You’ve got mail!

COMPANY PROFILE Mediapost Hit Mail

Photo: Laurentiu Obae

even though conventional advertising Young entrepreneur had developed quickly and had gained Marian Seitan intends to some traction on the local market,” says increase his direct mailing the general manager. “I graduated from in June 1996 and in January business by about 30 per- university 1997, I set up Hit Mail using the money that I had saved while I was working durcent this year and hopes university.” that the market conditions ing Seitan sees a silver lining to the cloud will help him to develop it that is the current downturn in Romania. “The crisis was a good opportunity for us further in the future. to increase the efficiency of our business and to question some less productive ex∫ ANCA IONESCU penses,” says the businessman. In his opinion, another benefit is that he saw some of his competitors simply disapMarian Seitan, general manager and copeared from the market because they owner of Mediapost Hit Mail, built his business from scratch, starting in 1997, couldn’t cut fixed costs. But there is also a downside. “The bad thing is that some since when the company has grown concustomers also left the market, including stantly. Initially Mediapost Hit Mail was Mail-man: entrepreneur Marian Seitan some quite large ones, while others cut conceived as a full-service direct marto a minimum level their communication keting agency, but new additional business with their current and potential customers, preneur. Asked how the Romanian-Canalines were developed every year. “We dian MBA program supported him in his in the hope that this would help them posted a constant increase of 50 percent entrepreneurial undertaking, Seitan says get through the crisis,” adds Seitan. every year,” remembers Seitan. One of that it helped him to understand the imThe recession posed a wide range of the most important moments for his firm new challenges for Mediapost Hit Mail, portance and the efficiency of soft skills. came in March 2009 when he sold about from how to replace the axed budgets of “From all the tools I acquired during this 60 percent of the shares to the French program, those to do with operations Mail. The move had a double benefit, some customers and face the purchase management, HR and the financing of managers who were asking aggressively bringing both money and high quality investments had the biggest significance. for discounts, to how to approach the know-how into the company. But I can also say that networking was price wars launched by hopeless comThe idea to set up the business came probably the biggest achievement,” says petitors or to reduce the company’s fixed as a natural step for Seitan. In 1995 he costs in order to compensate for the lower the general manager. In his experience, a won a scholarship to study direct marvolumes and margins. “But I can already Romanian-Canadian MBA is useful in a keting in France. “At that time direct marspecific stage of the development of a keting was hardly formed in Romania, say that we have won,” says the entrecompany, when it has grown and its entrepreneur is not able to control all the areas of the business. As a result, there is a need to create structures specific to a large company, a process that is neither easy nor pleasant. “Looking back I think that I chose the right moment to do this, using both the know-how and the tools

Established: 1997 2009 turnover: EUR 6 millions 2010 turnover (estimation): EUR 6 millions Number of employees: 600 Initial investment: USD 2000 Total investment (estimation): EUR 1,500,000 offered by the MBA program,” says Seitan. As for the most difficult moment his business has faced, the young entrepreneur says it was back in 1999 when his company posted losses for a few months, due to an unfavorable context. “But I always believed that our positioning was right so we managed to get through it.” If he started another business he would change a lot, mainly because the economic environment has changed, with the competition being stronger today than in the past. He adds that at the moment competition is fiercer on some market segments while on others Mediapost Hit Mail benefits from the added know-how of its French business partner. “At the end of 2010 we had an average market share of about 30 percent, but we have a 50 to 60 percent market share on some sub-segments,” says Seitan. And his company is likely to benefit from the potential of the local market, as according to the young entrepreneur, the weight of direct marketing in the total costs of communication and marketing will exceed 10 percent this year. As for future plans, Seitan intends to post an increase of more than 30 percent both for the existing and adjacent business lines. “We think that the local market will help us this year, with Romania being closer to the recovery of its economy,” concludes the general manager.

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

Tomohiro Nakashima (38) has been appointed the new country manager of Sony Romania. As of this February he will coordinate Sony’s business in Romania, alongside the Eastern Balkans region. Nakashima is taking over from Taiju Ishikawa, who will lead Sony’s activity in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Nakashima, currently country head of Eastern Balkans & Romania, Sony Central and Southeast Europe, started his career with the firm 14 years ago.

Yilmaz Yildirmilar has been appointed Rezidor district director for South East Europe. In his new position he will coordinate the activity of six hotels in Romania, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Bulgaria. Besides managing the Radisson Blu hotel in Bucharest, which he has been doing for

the past two years, Yildirmlar will give management support to the Radisson Blu Alcron Hotel in Prague, the Radisson Blu Carlton Hotel in Bratislava, and the Radisson Blu Grand Hotel and Park Inn Sofia in Sofia. The hotels he will be supervising contain 1,600 rooms.

Cristina Bidiga has been appointed senior associate and head of NNDKP's ClujNapoca office. She is co-founder of the law firm of Cionca Bidiga Godinca and has ten years of experience in litigation and business law. She provides legal assistance to clients developing operations or with specific interest in the North-Western region of Romania and has developed particular expertise in dispute resolution, commercial law and employment law. She graduated from the Babes-Bolyai University Law School and is a member of the Cluj County Bar. Business Review | February 14 - 20, 2011


Tourism Ministry splashes the cash on Danube Delta

∫ DANA VERDES “We live by fishing in the Danube Delta and offering rustic accommodation to tourists who come here during July and August, when Sfantu Gheorghe plays host to several festivals, including the international film festival Anonimul.” Sandi Ciumacenco describes his simple life in the village where the Danube Delta arm meets the Black Sea. It is the way of life also for all 1,000 inhabitants of fishing village Sfantu Gheorghe. In the past few years the number of young people attracted by the Sfantu Gheorghe lighthouse, the sandy streets, the virgin beach, the Danube Delta and its festivals is increasing. Most of those who pitch up during the summer either camp or stay with locals, as the cost of transport and accommodation for four days is more than EUR 150. Nobody who has visited the Danube Delta can deny that this part of Europe has a special charm. About a year and a half ago the Delta was included in the tourism destinations promoted under the national brand. At the time Elena Udrea, the tourism minister, said on a visit to the area: “The Delta is not ready even for Romanian tourists, let alone for Germans,” and gave the go-ahead to a EUR 25 million project which included two EUR 10 million tourist miniports in Sfantu Gheorghe and Sulina and the improvement of the Sulina

terms of concrete actions underway, presentation materials for different regions of Romania, including the Danube Delta, are being created. We have also launched three procurement procedures for services to run advertisement on national TV and radio channels this year to promote the ‘Explore the Carpathians Garden’ program. Another procedure is for services to broadcast advertisements on international TV channels this year, in order to promote Romania as a tourism destination and increase brand awareness,” said ministry representatives. According to them, the annual tourism marketing and promotion budget has received RON 12.91 million this year from the state budget, without currently being broken down per project, while the regional operational program, Axis 5 ‘Creating a positive image of Romania as a tourist destination by identifying and promoting a national tourism brand’ has a total budget of EUR 75 million for 2007-2013, coming from European funds. But while at the ministry everything is clear, Sfantu Gheorghe city hall officials Plain sailing: the government is hoping the Danube Delta will attract more visitors have had to close down the library. The mayor told us that they will try to run cultural activities through an NGO, activities which will attract the thousands istered was 39 units per month, this year beach, a EUR 5 million project. Udrea’s target: “We need to finance these projects. just one boat has joined the list, in January. of tourist boats and cruise ships that will dock this summer in the brand new, exOne major issue which seems to have We have to bring boats with tourists, pensive miniports in Sfantu Gheorghe been overlooked by the central authorities which will come from the seaside.” and Sulina. is the lack of medical services. “We have Valentin Sidorencu, Sfantu Gheorghe a family physician who comes once a mayor, told Business Review that Udrea’s week. We recently convinced a nurse to aspirations are about to become reality move to Sfantu Gheorghe permanently this year. “The investment in the new by promising her a full-time job. We failed miniport at Sfantu Gheorghe, financed to hire her as government ordinance by the Tourism and Development Ministry 34/2009 has practically blocked access and contracted by the Tulcea County to all jobs in the public system. This is Council, is expected to be realized this why we have formed an NGO and hired summer. It is a doable deadline. This this nurse through the organization. miniport will serve pleasure boats of up Through this NGO we ensure her salary to 10 meters in length,” said Sidorencu. and drugs with funds from the city hall’s Udrea’s vision expanded and the initial budget, until we can receive subsidies or project was extended in order to support even donations,” Sidorencu tells BR. “We cruise ships anchoring at the Danube as have reported our situation to all the relwell. Sidorencu told BR that this part of evant authorities but we only received the project is ongoing and is expected to 2009: 116 pretty answers – and what can we do be finished this year. 2010: 86 with them?” Another important project which January 31, 2011: 1 Ironically, the ministry has recently Sidorencu says is completed is the waste announced that it is starting a tender for management station. services in the area of events planning “We are talking about a waste sorting for the promotion and development of station, a garbage truck and hundreds of tourist destinations. It is prepared to bins. Additionally, there are ongoing works invest EUR 2 million, excluding VAT. for the road infrastructure necessary from 2009: 180 Companies participating in the tender the waste station to the berth. This in2010: 90 must suggest ways to develop different vestment is financed with RON 600,000 January 31, 2011: 4 types of events such as roundtables, workfrom the local council’s budget and another RON 1 million for the county council,” shops, galas, Romanian evenings and mobile events – shows, conferences, consaid the mayor. gresses, seminars, scholarships, travel foAs these major investments reach rums and photo exhibitions. The duration completion it is just a few months until of the procurement is one year from the tourists are expected to flock to the 2009: 257 date the contract is signed by both parties. 2010: 135 Danube, although the number of new Ministry officials told Business Review pleasure boats registered has been deJanuary 31, 2011: 4 that the promotion of the Danube Delta creasing in recent years. While last year is included in a larger master plan. “In the average number of new vessels regSource: Romanian Naval Authority Photo: Dana Verdes

Despite more than EUR 25 million of investments in the Sfantu Gheorghe and Sulina miniports and beach improvements and another EUR 2 million spent on events promoting the Danube Delta – part of the “Explore the Carpathian Garden” brand – Sfantu Gheorghe does not have 24/7 healthcare services. With new national boat registrations constantly falling, the Romanian authorities are hoping that millions of euro worth of leaflets, workshops, conferences, congresses, seminars and photo exhibitions will bring tourist boats and cruise ships flooding to the rustic fishing villages of the Danube.

REGISTRATION OF NEW ROMANIAN VESSELS Constanta harbor master’s office

Tulcea harbor master’s office

Galati harbor master’s office Business Review | February 14 - 20, 2011


Courtesy of IDITEX

Iditex was one of the retailers that were active in expansion last year; Massimo Dutti, one of the group’s brands, last week announced it was opening its first store outside Bucharest in Iulius Mall Timisoara

Mall systems go on the retail front Fashion retailers, hypermarkets and supermarkets, and entertainment space operators were some of the most active firms in their expansion plans last year, taking up a significant part of the retail property space. Meanwhile the past year has seen some firsts for the local market, like the first public auction sale of a mall, as well as the long-awaited market entry announcement of Swedish clothing retailer H&M. Romania is the 15th most sought after destination for expansion by retailers out of 20 countries in the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region, found a CBRE study released at MAPIC 2010. Germany tops the list, followed by Poland and France, according to the “How active are retailers in EMEA” study, which surveyed 220 retailers. Some 17 percent of the firms questioned were in favor of expanding on the Romanian market, which is in the plans of around 36 retailers that are already active locally, as well as new ones. The situation described in the report corresponds to the many store opening announcements last year and this year, which upped the total local retail stock.

After the inauguration of the Gold Plaza Baia Mare project at the end of last year the total nationwide retail stock reached 1.4 million sqm, according to the Jones Lang LaSalle’s Bucharest City report. The modern retail deliveries of last year totaled over 150,000 sqm in five projects in Bucharest and three across the country in Baia Mare, Arad, and Drobeta Turnu Severin, according to the same source. The largest delivery was the 80,000sqm Sun Plaza mall, which opened in Bucharest in April. In the fourth quarter of last year high street retail deliveries were more prominent in Bucharest with the Emporio Armani and Gucci store

openings on Calea Victoriei. This is in contrast to the 2008 situation when ten gallery malls, nine urban malls and one outlet store were completed. International retailers continued to be one of the main drivers of demand for retail space. In particular, fashion retailers such as Iditex, Decathlon, C&A, New Yorker and Sprider Stores opened shops last year and have more plans for this year as well. Fashion discounters such as Takko and Deichman are also expanding in smaller cities in the country. H&M in particular has announced the opening of nine stores on the local market. On March 25, the Swedish firm is expected to open a 1,700-sqm store in AFI Palace

Cotroceni, while on March 26 another 2,500-sqm store will open in Unirea Shopping Center. In Bucharest, the Swedish fashion retailer will also open up in Baneasa Shopping City. Throughout the country it has announced shop openings in Iasi, Timisoara, Cluj-Napoca and Constanta. As far as transaction activity was concerned last year, a notable move came when New Europe Property Investment Fund (NEPI) bought the Auchan and Bricostore locations in Iris Shopping Center Pitesti for EUR 21 million. The Auchan hypermarket has a rentable surface of 13,600 sqm, and was opened in 2007, while Bricostore has a rentable surface of 9,500 sqm and was inaugurated around the same time. Another transaction came when Aracdom, the construction company part of developer Trigranit, bought Atrium Center Arad. Following the EUR 6 million deal, Trigranit became a shareholder with 50 percent. The EUR 70 million mall in Arad was started by British investment fund Carpathian (with 75 percent ownership). Atrium Center has a rentable surface of 30,000 sqm. Also last year, Immofinanz completed a 2007 forward purchase of Polus Center Constanta. Developed by Trigranit, the mall has been renamed Maritimo Shopping Center, while assuming existing debts of EUR 40 million. Immofinanz completed forward transactions for Westgate Craiova and Eurmall Galati, as well as the acquisition of Gold Plaza Baia Mare from Futureal. Another first for the local market came as Tiago Mall Oradea was sold at a public auction after the developer entered insolvency procedures. The mall was sold for EUR 30.5 million from an asking price of EUR 35.5 million. The auction was organized by the Transylvania House of Insolvency and the project developer’s liquidator, MLS Project Oradea, subsidiary of Mivan, the Irish Group. The original investment for Tiago Mall was EUR 65 million. A more recent transaction, at the beginning of this year, came when Equest Balkan Properties sold 51 percent of the company controlling the Vitantis Shopping Center in Bucharest and Moldova Mall in Iasi to a firm controlled by businessman George Teleman, partner with Equest Investments Romania. The price was a nominal EUR 5 as the new owner took over the company’s debts. Vitantis Shopping Center is owned by Union Properties SRL and Vitantis SRL, and Moldova Mall by Rivium Galeria Mall. The three companies are controlled by Balkan Properties Cooperatief, where Teleman owns 51 percent of the shares through Densol Limited. Vitantis Shopping Center has a rentable surface of 11.362 sqm, of which 82 percent is occupied. In the first nine months of 2010 the mall in Vitan registered net operational losses of EUR 1.5 million. Moldova Mall has a rentable space of 9,024 sqm, and an occupancy rate of 71 percent. In the first nine months of 2010 it had net operational losses of EUR 500,000. In all, several projects are expected to be delivered this year, after 2010 saw a handful of openings such as the Sun Plaza in Bucharest, Atrium Center in Arad and Gold Plaza in Baia Mare. The main ones are previewed on the next page. Business Review | February 14 - 20, 2011

RETAIL 11 Baneasa Shopping City extension


Courtesy of Baneasa

Developer: Nova Imobiliare Investment: More than EUR 350 million Project: Colosseum is located in northwest Bucharest, in the Chitila area, close to Bucuresti Noi. It will provide approximately 190,000 sqm of retail, leisure and entertainment space, more than 480 shops, and 10,000 parking spaces. The center is built on a site of 602,000 sqm. It is being built in two phases. The opening of the first phase, the retail park, with 53,000 sqm of shops, is planned for autumn of 2011. Tenants include a Carrefour hypermarket and a Leroy Merlin DIY store. The second phase, the malls, will have a leased area of 137,000 sqm, and around 480 shops.

Baneasa Shopping City is set to expand

Palas Iasi

Developer: TriGranit, which sold it to Immofinanz in 2007 Investment: EUR 140 million Project: The mall is located on Aurel Vlaicu Boulevard in Constanta. The planned gross leasable area of the center is just over 50,000 sqm. The center will host over 130 shops with a 16,000sqm Auchan hypermarket anchor, a cinema, food court, and 2,200 available parking spaces both underground and at ground level. The gross buildable area for the project is 105,000 sqm. The planned opening of the center was set for the second half of 2011. Tenants in the project include H&M and Decathlon.

Developer: Iulius Group Investment: EUR 260 million Project: Located in downtown Iasi, Palas is being developed by Iulius Group, which also owns Iulius Malls across the country. The project is a mixed one, comprising a commercial area, class A office buildings, hotels, apartments, an underground parking place with over 2,500 spaces, and a 50,000-sqm park. The opening of the project was planned for the fall of 2011.

Electroputere Shopping Center


Courtesy of Colosseum

Colosseum will be built in two phases

Developer: Baneasa Developments Investment: EUR 22 million Project: Baneasa commercial area is to expand with the construction of three new facilities. The additions – a multiplex cinema, a family entertainment center and a gas station – add a total of 25,000 sqm to the project. The multiplex cinema requires an estimated investment of EUR 19 million and will add a total of 15,000 sqm to the Baneasa Shopping City. It will have 13 screens and a total seating capacity of more than 2,700. It was planned to open by the second half of 2011. The family entertainment center will have a surface of 4,000 sqm and cost EUR 1 million to build. It will be developed on top of the center’s food court. The third part of the investment is a EUR 2 million gas station.

Maritimo Constanta

Maritimo Constanta will host 130 shops

Developer: K&S Developments, Auchan Investment: EUR 90 million Project: The center will be located on a 12-hectare plot owned by Electroputere SA Craiova, the former site of the plant. The opening was set for the second quarter of 2011. The main anchors of the commercial center are Auchan, which is building an 11,000-sqm hypermarket, sports retailer Decathlon, which will have a 3,500-sqm store, Kiabi, which will have a 1,800-sqm location, Leroy Merlin with a 10,000-sqm shop, and car service and equipment company Norauto with a 1,100-sqm outlet. The total built surface of the center is 6.3 hectares, and it will have 2,000 parking places. Business Review | February 14 - 20, 2011



Romanians’ ongoing search for a bargain is seeing them make use of auction websites, which often charge more competitive prices than traditional stores

Auction websites strike a deal on beleaguered market Online buying has already become a trend, with data from Romcard showing that online card payments totalled EUR 127.8 million in 2010. Since Romanians like a bargain, several auction websites have already established a presence on the online market. Certain product ranges sell very well on such websites and at better prices than in a regular store. However, being relatively new, many of these sites face the mistrust of their customers who are yet to place their money whole-heartedly into an online purchase. ∫ OTILIA HARAGA Electronic commerce with online card payment grew last year by 38 percent in comparison with 2009, to EUR 127.8 million. The number of processed transactions also rose by 82 percent, reaching 2.26 million, according to data from Romcard. “In 2010 new entrepreneurs entered on the market looking to expand their business online and to find more accessible solutions at lower prices. At the same time, buyers reacted very well to promotions and price discounts so that campaigns with a clear concept and effi-

cient implementation have managed to attract payers from the offline to the online,” said Daniel Nicolescu, GECAD ePayment CEO, in a previous press release. A model of business that is gaining new adepts every day is the online auction website, as these platforms offer the opportunity to buy certain products for less than usual. This is possible because people who post their products for sale on such websites are in competition with others offering the same product, and therefore they reduce the price in order to sell. The cheapest product will get the attention of potential buyers. The decrease in prices is also due to

the increased choice. “When making the decision to buy on the website, clients consider factors such as the price of products and services, the time of delivery, recommendations, the reputation of the website on the market and the relations they have with the website,” Ramona Hromei, PR officer at, tells BR. Launched officially on April 15 2000, is the largest website of electronic commerce in Romania. The launch was the debut of online commerce in Romania. The website had only 5,000 products for sale at the end of 2000. This year, it posted a record 2.7 million unique vis-

itors a month. “At the moment we have

We estimate that in 2011, because the market is becoming more mature, the level of interest and trust in this type of website will rise. more than 100,000 sellers on Last year, the number of products on sale Business Review | February 14 - 20, 2011


increased from 170,000 to more than 1 million,” says Hromei. currently has 50 employees, with an average age of 26 years old, who work in IT, sales, customer relations, marketing, web design and creation, statistics and SEO. “At the moment, we have in excess of 1 million products on sale, which is a very large range of products even for the most demanding of buyers,” says Hromei. “We have recently surpassed 200,000 unique visitors a day and nearly 5 million postings a day.” The domains where scores the most sales are electronic appliances, computers and software, clothing and footwear as well as mobile handsets. There is also a significant volume of transactions in categories such as cars, jewelry and watches, books, photo & video equipment, health/beauty, PC/video games, music and collectables. Last year, the most significant growth was in the fashion segment. But there are also drawbacks. The issue of trust, or more exactly, mistrust, that is still plaguing the entire online shopping market is rearing its ugly head in this business as well. “Romanians are still reluctant concerning online acquisitions – even though e-commerce is on the up, buyers are still skeptical that the product they will get is what they want,” said Paul Serea, project manager of, in a previous press release. In part, this is due to some firms that operate on this market. “At the moment, there are at least six-seven websites of this


Auction websites still have to overcome consumers’ lack of trust in online retail kind, but many of these are not properly updated, which leads to distrust from visitors, so these websites will not be able to convert visitors into clients,” Florin Ioga, co-founder of website, tells Business Review. “We estimate that in 2011, because the market is becoming more mature, the level of interest and trust in this type of website will rise.” In order to increase the level of trust among both buyers and sellers who access this platform, many of the websites

have introduced a system based on recommendations, through which sellers and buyers who interact can rate each other. These ratings can be seen by other potential buyers or sellers and if they are not good, it’s bad for business for the respective trader. “As we stand, there is a high potential for online auction websites in Romania, but Romanian users are rather demanding and look for quality and trust,” says Ioga. “To succeed, it is necessary to have

a good marketing strategy, strengthen the brand and invest accordingly.” For the entire work behind the investment amounted to approximately EUR 60,000. The company posted a turnover of RON 100,000 in 2010 (nearly EUR 23,500) and estimates it will have a 50 percent growth this year. “The launch of the website was the result of the financial crisis since the site fulfills the need to buy very cheap products,” say Bidmania officials. The platform is relatively new, having been launched mid-June 2010 after a careful study of the consumption market. “It took us more than one year to create and test the website, and we are developing it permanently,” they say. The team that provides the maintenance is made up of six people, including a graphic expert, programmers, network administrator and operators for processing and posting auctions. All the products offered for auction on the website are new and come accompanied by warranty certificates. Generally, they are products from IT&C, electronics, home appliances, wellness and vouchers, say Bidmania representatives. The most popular items are notebooks, LCD television sets, mobile phones and photo cameras. “For collecting and posting the auctions on the website, we have a dedicated team. We have contracts with various suppliers from whom we acquire the products that we place up for auction on the site,” says Ioga.

14 BALANCE Business Review | February 14 - 20, 2011

Love is in the air, but are you a Valentine or Dragobete? Valentine’s Day caught on quite quickly in post-communist Romania and has become yet another successful US export, just like jeans, English expressions in local teenagers’ slang or the more recent craze for vampire love stories. BR takes a look at how the loved-up can celebrate February 14 across Bucharest and Romania, while also offering some information about its local equivalent, Dragobete. ∫ CORINA DUMITRESCU

Courtesy of Dreamstime

Today’s youth in Romania may remember with fondness how they were encouraged in their elementary school years by English teachers and textbooks to shyly ask their crush, “Will you be my Valentine?” The story behind Saint Valentine’s Day has been told and re-told so many times, that almost everyone knows at least one version of the legend about the Christian martyr Valentine, who died in ancient times for his religious beliefs, writing “From your Valentine” in his last letter, addressed to a mysterious woman. While some seem to have readily embraced the idea of a celebration of love, others have purposefully rejected it, arguing that love is something that should be expressed on a regular basis, not one day a year. More patriotic types might shun Valentine’s Day as an export, on account of the existence of a Romanian love celebration, Dragobete (or Dragobetele in its articulated form), on February 24. Laura Jiga Iliescu, from the Constantin Brailoiu Institute of Ethnography and Folklore, explains that Dragobetele is also known as the “Head of Spring” or the “Patron of Birds”. The day coincides with the Christian Orthodox holiday “Aflarea capului Sfantului Ioan” (“Finding the head of St. John”) and the symbolism behind the word “head”, as in “beginning” or “leader”, may be connected with the above-mentioned meaning of the celebration. At the end of the 19th century, in isolated areas across the country, Iliescu says Dragobetele consisted of searching for spring flowers in forests, and may have had “premarital functions”. Romantic legends say that those who met on this day, while picking snowdrops in the forest, were meant to be together. Ioana Popescu, researcher at Muzeul Taranului Roman (the Romanian Peasant’s Museum), connects the celebration of Dragobete to the rebirth of nature and dawning of a new time. “The tradiLove is all you need: while some argue love should be expressed 365 days of the year, retailers are happy for the Valentine’s boost tion does not have the same date (February 24) everywhere. It is also known as ‘Head of Spring’, and the character Dragomust be tied with a red and white string context of globalization and seculariza- “this trend is already naturally declinbete is known either as the son of Baba (more important than the amulet itself), ing”. True enough, on account of the fition”. The exaggeration of the role of Dochia, or as the brother-in-law of Lazar to bring health and good luck. This tranancial crisis or perhaps due to changing Dragobete is regarded as “a means of our (who died longing for pies). The custom dition spread from the countryside to urjoining the ranks of the rest of the world”, fads, it seems that Valentine’s and Dragodid not have the importance that some try ban areas at the turn of the twentieth cenbete are gaining less attention than in prea not so positive strategy, Popescu sugto attach to it nowadays. It is true that it tury, Iliescu says. The first people to furvious years. gests. fits the current trend of playful ceremonish their daughters and wives with such Other sources, meanwhile, point out Three years ago, the Romanian Peasny or spectacle for the young and thus trinkets were wealthy gentlemen, since, that the local celebration of Martisor ant’s Museum even organized a compeseems to be an equivalent to Valentine’s back then, connected to the red and (March 1, marking the first day of spring) tition between the two characters, ValenDay,” says Popescu. Moreover, she adds white strings usually were small objects may more accurately be assimilated to tine and Dragobete, with the hope that that the media buzz created around this Valentine’s Day. According to tradition, of gold and silver. And gold and silver borrowed celebration, although excessive, “our festivity would become emblematic pendants remain popular Martisor gifts. women in Romania on March 1 are given and stop the surplus of Dragobete”. Alproves “the current need to integrate a Regardless of the denomination and the though it did not work out that way, an amulet or good-luck charm, which holiday for the young into the current Business Review | February 14 - 20, 2011



Florists are expecting a sales spike

straitened times, the celebration of love continues to play its part in a globalizing society, seeking lost traditions.

From the local corner flower shop to five-star hotels, Valentine’s means profit To local merchants, the appearance of Valentine’s Day in the local landscape is another source of profit. The traditional yearly fairs that crowd the Universitate area and old town center, previously in the run-up to March 1 and March 8 (Women’s Day), now start earlier, with their usual array of silver and gold-plated jewelry, stuffed animals of various sizes, flowers and any heart or love-bearing symbol one could ever conceive of, now making an appearance as the winter subsides. A fair with various Valentine’s paraphernalia is taking place until February 14 at the Universitate subway passage, towards the Intercontinental. Named “Amore, Love, Iubire”, it offers everything from chocolate, heart-shaped pillows, rose-perfumed soap, massage oils and candy to semi-precious stones. A mixture between Valentine’s and its local cousin Dragobete, Dragolentin is a festival dedicated to love, from February 14-24 at Casa de Cultura a Studentilor (Student’s Culture House) on Calea Plevnei 61. Online flower shops are also a blooming business on such occasions. estimates that Romanians will spend over EUR 40,000 on online flower orders on Valentine’s Day. The average value of orders will reach an estimated EUR 70, a 50 percent increase compared to the average throughout the rest of the year. Moreover, orders began as early as January 25 according to Marius Dosinescu, business development manager at, who added that the company expects EUR 4,000 worth of sales on Valentine’s Day, a 150 percent increase compared to last year. If music be the food of love for you, there are many options. These include the now traditional Directia 5 (a local rock band, with almost twenty years of history on the Romanian music scene) concert at Sala Palatului, on February 14, starting at 19.00. Tickets cost RON 70-150. On Dragobete, however, another local group, Taxi, will hold a concert at Jukebox Club. Entrance costs RON 30. The group, although it plays numerous genres, could be included in the soft-rock category; however, their orientation towards satire in their lyrics would recommend some Romanian language knowledge. Jukebox Club has also

announced that it has dedicated the entire month to lovers and, on Valentine’s Day, raffle prizes will be up for grabs while cover band Jukebox gives a concert. Five-star hotels across Bucharest bring a more luxurious twist to the celebration of love. The Athenee Palace Hilton offers a four-course menu including wine for RON 195/person, starting at 20.00. Radisson Blu Hotel is hosting Be My Valentine @ Rad on Valentine’s Day, charging RON 180 per person at its Prime Steaks and Seafood Restaurant, starting at 18.30. Caffe Cita and Le Bistro of the same hotel cost RON 120 per person on the same occasion, while Dark Bla Bar and Bla Lounge Bar are celebrating Ladies’ Night. Carol Parc Hotel promises romantic dinners starting at RON 163 until February 15. Howard Johnson is putting on a St. Valentine’s Love-Sharing Dinner Menu at Avalon restaurant, at the price of RON 300 per couple, and promises visitors to its Japanese restaurant Benihana that “this Valentine’s Day, you will fall in love again with our Teppanyaki Menu”, for the price of RON 375 per couple. Howard Johnson is also offering romantic packages at its Health Club, with the Soul Mates couple massage costing RON 150 per couple. JW Marriott brings Love with a Twist on Valentine’s, with the “Red Is For Italian Passion” lover’s menu at 280 RON per couple, “As You Like It” live cooking stations at the cost of RON 190 per two and the Matters of the Heart section promising live piano classical music for RON 32 per person. Valentine’s is also a pretext for giving, as is the case at the Valentine’s Day Charity Ball, by the Blue Heron Foundation. Taking place on February 12, at Ghika Palace, with over 250 guests, the Blue Heron Foundation aimed to offer 50 scholarships worth EUR 1,000 each, to deserving underprivileged students, through the fifth edition of the Valentine’s Day Charity Ball, with the aid of donors from Romania and the US. One of the highlights of the evening was the Forget-Me-Not Award. Previous winners were Dinu Patriciu, Camelia Sucu, Princess Margaret and Anastasia Soare. This year, Steven and Valeria van Groningen received the humanitarian award “for their sustained efforts to improve the life conditions of underprivileged children”, said Mike Costache, strategy and fundraising director of the Blue Heron Foundation.

16 FOCUS Business Review | February 14 - 20, 2011

Photo: Laurentiu Obae

Hard candy: despite the famed moreish qualities of chocolate, the market has been feeling the bitter end of the recession as people cut back on discretional spending

Chocolate market loses its sweet tooth In 2010 the local chocolate market was anything but a box of chocolates. Although a world-renowned comfort food in depressing times, Romanians proved less inclined to indulge their sweet tooth and the market fell by as much as 24 percent, according to some reports. This year, manufacturers are preparing themselves to take the bitter with the sweet yet again, as the market is expected to continue falling, albeit at a slower pace. ∫ SIMONA BAZAVAN Retail chocolate sales consisting of chocolate bars and slabs amounted to about RON 605 million (approximately EUR 145 million) between December 2009/January 2010 and October/November 2010, according to data from Nielsen Romania. The decrease in purchasing power took its toll on chocolate consumption which even without the effects of the re-

cession registered low per capita figures compared to other European countries. Last year, the market fell by about 24 percent, Erwin Vondenhoff, general manager of Heidi Chocolat, told Business Review. Cristian Stancu, marketing manager at Supreme Chocolat, which manufactures the Anidor, Primola and Novatini brands, estimates the drop at around 15 percent. For 2011 he forecasts that the market will continue decreasing but at a slower pace, possibly between 5 and 10 percent. “2011 looks likely to be a difficult

year for chocolate and biscuit manufacturers due to price increases for raw materials, but we hope that we will continue to post growth,” Stancu told Business Review. As consumption went down, Romanian consumers stuck to their favorite brands and were less inclined to take chances on new ones. “This is not the time to launch a completely new brand on the market as consumers are not willing to try them out,” Vondenhoff said. Last year Heidi Chocolat posted a

RON 55 million turnover, 15 percent up on 2009, but the growth was mainly driven by investments in new chocolate assortments and exports, says Vondenhoff. “Exports went up by 160 percent last year which helped to boost turnover as the internal market fell drastically,” said the GM. This year the company hopes that exports will make up 40 percent of its total turnover. Romanian-made Heidi premium chocolate is exported to 32 countries. “The US, Poland, Australia, Chile, China and Canada are among our top export

FOCUS 17 Business Review | February 14 - 20, 2011

Courtesy of Dreamstime

Choc horror: sales figures are well down

markets and Germany remains our main destination,” said Vondenhoff. The most popular Heidi chocolates are Grand’Or and the dark chocolate varieties. “We frequently launch new flavors, new recipes and alternative package sizes. Last year alone we launched 15 new varieties and this year we have launched four new chocolate assortments from the Gourmette variety,” the GM added. Other chocolate manufacturers are Kandia-Excelent, which last year was the subject of one of the largest takeovers on the local FMCG market when US food giant Kraft Foods announced the sale of the Cadbury-owned Kandia-Excelent chocolate and cake business in Romania to Oryxa Capital investment fund. Cadbury acquired the Romanian manufacturer in 2007, but Kraft was forced to divest of it under EU competition rules following its contentious takeover of the UK confectionery giant. The sale includes Kandia-Excelent brands Rom, Magura, Kandia, Laura, Sugus and Silvana and others. Some of the chocolate brands owned by Kraft on the local market are Milka, Toblerone, Poiana and Smash. In a financial report made public last week, Kraft announced for Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East & Africa (CEEMA) organic revenue increases in “high single digits”. According to the report, the growth was driven primarily by volume and other mixed gains. “Although economic conditions and category trends in the region remained weak, share gains in key markets and categories more than offset market weakness,” said the document, one of the brands mentioned being Milka chocolate.

Chocolate as posh nosh

There is the chocolate one finds in the usual retail networks and then there is the posh version one finds in a “chocolaterie”, a specialized shop. The difference between the two is pretty much like that between a regular wine and its expensive, and always fancily named, counterpart. And just like the French are world famous for fine wines, the Belgians are globally renowned for chocolate. If you find yourself in Bucharest in search of some Belgian pralines, the Leonidas chocolate shops are among the very few places to go. The outlet in Strada Doamnei was the

first opened in Romania ten years ago by the M’Bey family. The gloomy situation however, was no different on the premium and luxury chocolate segment last year, Jolyon M’Bey told Business Review. The shop saw sales go down by 20 percent in 2010, but 2011 seems to promise better prospects so far. “Fortunately, we haven’t experienced the same decrease as last year during this period, but it is still too early to be truly optimistic,” he added. The investment in opening the shop was about EUR 150,000, M’Bey told Business Review, and the first years were also the hardest, the owners remembering that it took about two years to grow a client base. The shop was opened through franchise and now the M’Bey family is the master franchisor for the Belgian Leonidas brand in Romania. Worldwide there are about 1,400 outlets, selling over 100 different kinds of Belgian chocolate. Sales volumes reaching about 150 kg of chocolate are sold each month but the

volume multiplies by as much as ten times during holidays such as Christmas and about five times each Easter. Valentine’s Day and 8 March hike sales, but to a lesser extent. Orders from companies also help. All the products are imported and prices vary from RON 10 to beyond RON 2,000. The most popular choice for customers remains pralines but the shop offers other premium products such as gingerbread and nougat and the American ice cream brand Ben&Jerry’s. More exotic offers are chocolate Venetian masks made with edible 24k gold that can cost up to RON 279 for a life-sized mask. “In all these years we have brought products that we hoped would catch on but many didn’t as the market was not ready. Such was the case for Calisson d'Aix, made with marzipan and candied fruit from France or Spain,” the owner remembers. The customer profile has also changed over the years due to the rise in purchasing power. “At the beginning it was easier to distinguish a profile, but more recently this

has changed. Customers come from all social classes with the only difference that some of them buy more for their own consumption while others purchase the chocolate as a gift,” said M’Bey. In addition to the quality of ingredients, among other factors, the difference between retail chocolate and a chocolaterie’s wares also lies in the product’s shelf life. “The chocolate that one finds in a supermarket is made to last up to nine months while the chocolate from specialized shops like ours has a shelf life of only 28 days,” said M’Bey. As for future plans, M’Bey says that they include further investment in the shop’s terrace and recently opened café, as well as in finding new partners interested in taking on the Leonidas franchise in Bucharest and other Romanian cities. The investment in a Leonidas chocolate shop reaches requires an initial EUR 6,000-7,000 and doesn’t involve any further license tax or share of profits. Business Review | February 14 - 20, 2011


Tax pundits talk fiscal changes Tax experts, lawyers and representatives of the authorities discussed the latest fiscal changes in 2010 and 2011 and their impact on doing business locally at the ninth edition of the Romanian Tax, Law & Lobby event organized by Business Review last week. 2010 was a busy year for fiscal authorities, albeit not a very productive one, tax experts argued. This year has begun with more changes, some of which promise long awaited fiscal improvements. ∫ STAFF One of the most important fiscal changes is the ceiling on social contributions and the fact that they will be regulated by the Fiscal Code. Although the measure is welcomed and should reduce compliance costs for companies, experts attending the event said that there is still room for improvement. Also, this modification leaves questions about taxing independent work which hasn’t been included in the Fiscal Code. Other fiscal novelties are the reintroduction of the income tax for microcompanies and a definition of what “fiscal authority” means which should clarify discrepancies in law enforcement between the various fiscal institutions. One of the most hotly debated topics during the event was the government initiative to tax large unjustified fortunes. Tax experts argued that there are real difficulties regarding the way in which such a law could be applied and that there are also issues about its constitutionality and the fact that it leaves room for abuses. Present at the event Andreea PaulVass, economic adviser to the Prime Minister Emil Boc, said that among the government’s fiscal priorities this year is reducing social contributions, and on the long run, cutting VAT and reducing the flat tax. She added that there is an “iron political will” to simplify fiscal procedures and to fight tax evasion and that this year companies will see “significant progress” in these areas. The ninth edition of the Romanian Tax, Law & Lobby event organized by Business Review took place last week at Howard Johnson Grand Plaza Hotel and gathered around 100 attendees. The event consisted of three sessions and was followed by two workshops held by Salans and Riff Holding International. Romanian Tax, Law & Lobby was sponsored by bpv Grigorescu, PwC, Noerr, Salans, Transfer Pricing Services, and benefited from the support of TaxHouse, and Riff Holding International.










10 11

1. Alexandru Rusu, partner at bpv Grigorescu 2. Andreea Paul-Vass, economic adviser to the Prime Minister 3. Marius Stancescu, founding president of Riff Holding International 4. Anca Harasim, executive director of Amcham Romania 5. The third session offered an overview of the legislative and fiscal changes in 2010 6. Arpad Csaba Ladanyi, general commissioner of the Financial Guard 7. During the first session panelists discussed the 2010 fiscal changes and perspectives for 2011 8. Adrian Luca, director of Transfer Pricing Services 9. During the second session attendees discussed business and lobbying in Romania 10. Adrian Moraru, deputy director of the Institute for Public Policy 11. Emilian Bancila, managing associate at D&B David & Baias 12. Delia Dragomir, managing counsel at Salans 13. Cristian Radulescu, partner, Taxhouse 14. Blair LaBarge, economic counsellor of the United States’ Embassy to Bucharest 15. Iulian Sorescu, associated partner and head of financial department at Noerr Finance and Tax Business Review | February 14 - 20, 2011












All photos: Laurentiu Obae

16. Peter De Ruiter, partner tax & legal services, PwC Romania 17. Rudolf Lukavsky, commercial counsellor with the Austrian Embassy to Bucharest 18. Roberto Musneci, senior partner at Serban & Musneci Associates 19. Guy Burrow, partner at Candole Partners 20. Dragos Doros, partner at NNDKP Tax Advisory Services 21. Dan Schwartz, managing partner at Scot & Company Romania Business Review | February 14 - 20, 2011



A complete makeover The King’s Speech

Crowning glory: a return to form

La Veranda at the Crowne Plaza, tel. 021 224 0034 MICHAEL BARCLAY If you are like me and had ‘forgotten’ to go to the Crowne Plaza for the last year, you will be pleasantly shocked by the scale of their refurbishment. For they have changed everything from top to bottom on the ground floor bar and restaurant areas. On the other hand, if you dine there regularly, you would be excused for wondering what all the fuss is about until you recall how plain it was prior to the renovation. It boasts a delightfully relaxing décor, with new dark stained wood floors, offset in sections with marble and etched glass paneled walls separating the dining areas. To call it bright would be an understatement, with its leading restaurant La Veranda being bathed in daylight in winter. In the summer, it must be spectacular. The changes at the Crowne are not only cosmetic. For they have changed the chef and the menu also. So the dining order now is a Brasserie and a separate Veranda seafood restaurant. I have come for the seafood. As proof that printed media advertising really does work, I read that they will cook your fish in any manner specified by the customer. This is important. Three weeks ago I bemoaned in this column the lack of creative imagination on behalf of this city’s chefs, who restrict their dubious talents to either grilling or frying fish. And yet here we have a House that challenges you with a choice of preparations, and for the first time ever, they even offer you a selection of fish sauces. So away to the menu. For starters there was a selection including ‘salmon gravadlax,’ accompanied by cucumber and apple relish and salmon roe. You either love or hate this classic Norwegian alternative to smoked salmon as it is a marinade which is invariably overpowered by dill seasoning. We passed on it, and we also reluctantly passed on their ‘olive oil poached octopus’ served on a bed of potato, olive and ruccola salad. But Blondie couldn’t resist their ‘salmon Caesar salad’. Of course salmon was a twist on the original recipe. I marveled at the fact that they are one of, if not the only House that gives you fresh silver, vinegar marinated anchovies rather than the usual brown, smoked and salted variety. Bravo chef. But before I could test the authenticity of the dish (it should include Parmesan, lettuce, capers, garlic,

lemon juice, mustard and Worcester sauce… plus its famous dressing) Blondie had woofed the lot. Straight into her face without my having the opportunity to taste it. But she loved it. I had a ‘prawn spring roll’, well seasoned and accompanied by a mildly spicy sweet chili dip and a spoonful of ‘avocado hash’. There were the usual suspects of ‘sushi’ and ‘sashimi’ which is really so very ordinary nowadays with just about every reasonable restaurant offering the same. So I passed. I couldn’t wait to dive into the mains, so looked for them on the menu. There was a statement that they offered fresh fish, but it was not listed (and neither was the price), as the availability and variety of the fish changes daily. But the price did include a choice any two of: rice, fries, grilled veg, mashed potato or boiled parsley potato. There was also a choice of four sauces, but more of that later. I asked to examine the fish, which naturally they agreed to, and they brought to my table a huge iced platter of what they had that day. I examined the eyes and gills for freshness, and being satisfied I chose a plaice, as it is a rare thing indeed to see flat sea fish in this country. I asked for my fish to be skinned, and filleted off the bone after cooking it in steam. No problem, and that is precisely what I got. And now to the sauces. They had everything that no other restaurant in town offers. So there was a choice of ‘Salmoriglio sauce’ (a classic Sicilian fish sauce made from butter, olive oil, lemon, garlic and oregano) or, ‘citrus brown butter sauce’, or ‘champagne beurre blanc’… and the latter was my choice. I called for the chef, and asked him to twist this classic French butter sauce by adding white wine vinegar and boiling it off with fish stock. Of course he agreed and smiled as I am sure he has seen that additional variation to that sauce before. It was perfect. There was a choice of three fixed mains, namely: ‘jumbo prawns’, ‘pappardelle’ pasta with prawns, garlic, basil, sweet peppers, spring onions and a cream sauce and ‘black mussel risotto’. Having ‘ad libbed’ my way through the fresh fish section I was full. But Blondie was not! So to be awkward, she asked for the Brasserie menu, and chose ‘corn fed chicken’, marinated with herbs and served with mustard risotto, and a first rate sauce made from chicken stock and bones. I swear she was growling as she ate it, but that was from comfort. Another success! Seven years ago the Crowne had an Indian chef, Raymond Gomez, who was the best chef in the country. Raymond left three years ago. After a brief interregnum with a French chef, he too left now to be replaced by a new Indian chef, Ashley. Wisely, the kitchen kept some of the chefs from ‘the old days’. On the evidence before me, Ashley has raised the standards of the House to a point that the Crowne has well and truly regained its culinary crown.

Firth and foremost: Colin Firth delivers a classy performance as the stuttering royal

Directed by: Tom Hooper Staring: Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter On at: Cinema City Cotroceni, Hollywood Multiplex, Movieplex Cinema

∫ DEBBIE STOWE Playing a character with a disability is a much-trod path to Oscar glory (see Dustin Hoffman, 1988, Tom Hanks, 1994, Geoffrey Rush, 1996). Playing a royal doesn’t hurt your chances either (Helen Mirren 2006). So Colin Firth looks to be on safe ground with his portrayal of King George VI, whose unexpected thrusting onto his country’s throne threatens to expose his embarrassing stammer. After his brother, Edward VIII, abdicates so he can marry American divorcee Mrs Simpson, George hires Australian speech therapist Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush) to cure him of his impediment. The ensuing story fuses an “odd couple” buddy movie – as the stuffy king learns to cope with his colonial chum’s unorthodox

ANCA IONITA The string of BAFTA and Oscar nominations earned by the British costume drama directed by Tom Hooper is living proof that the film represents the perfect recipe for these unsure times we live in. The main ingredients are: royal values which highlight principles like stability and continuation, duty and dedication to the people’s interests, above personal ones; family values incarnated by the wonderful Helena Bonham Carter in the character of Elizabeth, the determined, yet gentle loving wife of the future King George VI of Britain (Bertie to his family and friends), who is the key element in finding a cure for her royal husband’s stammering; and last, but not least, the human values reflected by the egalitarian relationship between Bertie and his Australian nonconformist speech therapist, Lionel Logue, portrayed as an all understanding psychiatrist turned maverick by a too-much-in-your-face Geoffrey Rush. The human cord is there, vibrating at every level of this story about personal bravery during times of great distress (the imminent approach of the grim WWII is

methods – with the uplifting Hollywood chestnut, the overcoming of adversity. The plot advances leisurely, with few surprises. George is persuaded to hire Lionel, they don’t get on very well, then they do, George makes some progress. Gradually, the film builds towards the big challenge: the speech George must give after Britain declares war on Germany – not the sort of occasion he wants to blow his gravitas by getting stuck on the first word. This simple story needs – and gets – no gimmickry. It is told through the splendid performances of high-caliber actors, with Firth as the frustrated monarch and Rush as his quirky tutor supported by Helena Bonham Carter as George’s loyal and sympathetic wife. Guy Pearce provides a counterpoint to the stiff George in the form of his dilettante-ish and flighty brother, while Timothy Spall’s Winston Churchill cameo is a jowly delight. Everything about the movie, from the cast to the script to the direction and the locations, oozes class, confidence and professionalism. felt by both the characters and the viewers like a dark, terrible storm). This whole mix is extremely cleverly sustained by the musical score of the film, which employs the regal-sounding music of Beethoven’s Symphony no. 7 and Piano Concerto No. 5 (‘Emperor’) as a background for the King’s first wartime speech, to announce the beginning of the nightmare. This is actually the climax of the movie, the moment we are all waiting for, which is wonderfully constructed on the rhythmical score devised by the accentuated words, the silence and breathing of the newly crowned king and the grave and solemn beat of Beethoven’s music. The speech itself is transformed into music and the music speaks better than words. For sure, nothing of this magic potion formula would work without the A-list performance of Colin Firth, a demonstration of excellence in acting, whose internalized stammering goes beyond the level of a fantastic acting-technique achievement, becoming the outwardly expression of a rather sad childhood history turned into a meaningful and happy one, by the determination of a sturdy, kind and noble personality. Business Review | February 14 - 20, 2011


CITY EVENTS CALENDAR Film Contest Tenth edition of Transilvania International Film Festival calls for entries The Transilvania IFF Official Competition (Transilvania International Film Festival) is now open for online submissions. Eligible are first or second time directors' feature films, produced after January 1, 2009. The deadline for the submission of shorts and features is February 15, 2011 (post date). When&Where: online More info:


Art exhibition Aneli Munteanu’s work of “unsettling ambiguity”, on display at MORA Art Gallery Titled -an installation-, Aneli Munteanu’s exhibition is on display at MORA Art Gallery until February 19. By appointment at 021 3165 541 or 0721 71 75 72. When&Where: Until February 19, MORA Art Gallery (Str. Grigore Mora 39, Bucharest) More info:

Scorpions to rock Romania ‘like hurricanes’ in farewell tour German rockers Scorpions will arrive in Bucharest, at Zone Arena, on June 9, airing hits like Wind of Change and Still Loving You for their die-hard fans. When&Where: June 9, Zone Arena More info:, Italian rocker Zucchero, on his fourth concert in Bucharest Hits such as Baila Morena and Senza Una Donna should be ringing out from Arenele Romane. The event is part of the Italian rocker’s Chocabeck World Tour 2011. When&Where: June 21, Arenele Romane More info:,

Photo: Bradut Florescu

Pantomime shows by Masca Theater Masca Theater is known for organizing shows at subway stations and mostly focuses on pantomime, music and dance. When&Where: Saturday and Sunday, February 19 and 20 – 12.30, spectacle at Piata Unirii 1; Saturday, February 26 – 12.30, “Pierrot Lunatecul” (“Pierrot Moonstruck”) at Piata Unirii 1; Sunday, February 27 – 12.30, “Ex Libris” at Piata Unirii 1 More info:

When it’s time to give up the day job

Me and Volare are bound to echo through the halls of Sala Palatului, in Bucharest, on April 9. The Gipsy Kings have included Romania in their 2010-2011 World Tour, which began last year in July, in Los Angeles. When&Where: April 9, Sala Palatului More info:,

Whitesnake slither back to Romania for third show After previous concerts in Romania in 1997 and 2008, David Coverdale and his colleagues in Whitesnake will be back in Bucharest on July 3, to play Romexpo. On March 25, the band will launch their 11th album in Europe, Forevermore. When&Where: July 3, Romexpo More info:

Bradut Florescu is a name with resonance among Romanian advertisers, since his CV includes positions at some of the top companies and agencies across Bucharest. However, he started gaining more and more media attention once he traded the urban jungle of the Romanian capital for the untouched wilderness of faraway paradises on earth, such as Thailand.

Bon Jovi Bucharest concert tickets, now available for purchase Tickets for the Bon Jovi concert in Bucharest have officially been put up for sale. Prices range from RON 130 to 480. When&Where: July 10, Piata Constitutiei More info:,

Concert Pony Pony Run Run rush to Bucharest Pony Pony Run Run are a French electrotrio, formed of G, A and T, about which the Guardian wrote in 2009: “This Gallic electro trio confirm what we suspected – that often the French do British synth-pop even better than us.” The debut album of the band is called You Need Pony Pony Run Run. When&Where: February 24, The Silver Church Club, Bucharest More info:

Gipsy Kings bring nomadic rhythms to Sala Palatului The likes of Bamboleo, Djobi, Djoba, Baila

Courtesy D&D East Entertainment

The Mission presents: Parov Stelar, John Digweed, Antipop aka Télépopmusik British electronic music pioneer John Digweed returns to Romania after several previous visits. He will be joined by Austrian turntable spinner Parov Stelar, aka “the godfather of electroswing” and DJ Antipop from French electronic trio Telepopmusik. When&Where: March 12, Arenele Romane, Bucharest More info:

Livin’ on a prayer: Bon Jovi are coming

For more information about the events, please access

When Florescu left, he was first thought to have taken a sabbatical. But the sabbatical slowly but surely turned into a dramatic career change, as he went from fulltime advertiser and occasional travel aficionado to 24/7 travel journalist. What persuaded Florescu to make the switch? “A trip produced my de-click. I was in Borneo, in a jungle village, with the Iban people (a sub-group of the better known ethnic group Dayak). Those people lived far away from civilization, but had everything they needed. They did everything by hand. And then I realized two things: first of all, if I were cast away on a remote island, my background in advertising would not mean anything. Second of all, my work as an advertiser brought no real value; it did not help improve the world. A 30-second ad, broadcast for 30 days, was all I could put on the table.” Travel journalism had been a passion of Florescu’s for a long time. He started independent tourism website in 2007 (recently upgraded into, a site in which he invested “400,000 kilometers, by plane, car, boat and foot. Ten times around the world across the Equator. The cost was not to be overlooked either: EUR 150,000 invested in equipment”, says Florescu whose portfolio includes some of the world’s most exotic destinations. Another project of his,, a virtual guidebook for the visitor to Thailand, will also feature an English version, to reach non-Romanians. Florescu highlights the differences between the job of an advertiser and that of a journalist. “The satisfactions are of a completely different nature. I am glad when I receive messages from the Romanians who went to the places I suggested, I am glad when they ask for details about a highlighted destination, I gladly respond when they need help deciding upon their itinerary. It is a completely different satisfaction than in advertising: it is the fulfillment of a well done activity that, in its turn, brings good to someone else.” Turning an apparent sabbatical into a new career is not so uncommon and might bring unexpected positive results, says Cristina Pasat, general manager at local HR company Professional. “A sabbatical year often helps clarify personal expectations of work in general or a specific job, (…) and can often lead to a complete professional reorientation.” When asked for a piece of advice for younger people seeking a profession to match their vocation, Florescu says, “I think that the problem lies not in doing what you like, but in finding out what you like. A college graduate has too few landmarks, models and choices.”. ∫ Corina Dumitrescu Business Review | February 14 - 20, 2011


QUOTE of the week The pauper president “We have to admit that doctors, teachers, public servants and the military are poorly paid. Who else would you like to add to the list? The president is poorly paid, ok?” President Traian Basescu said last week on a public radio show. His answer came in response to a question about the financial motivation of public sector workers dealing with the absorption of EU funds. The president added that he wished his salary were higher than EUR 1,100 per month but everyone has the salaries “that the country produces.”

FROM OUR READERS Talking point: Destination Romania Foreign invasion

done. How can you become a better medic in these conditions? (Just an example off the top of my head.)



This is an interesting discussion of what brings foreigners to live in another culture. It sounds like these people are fully assimilated and it's good to hear their views on life in Romania. News of Romania is sparse anywhere.

Shark While two, three, thirty people come to live in Romania, about two million Romanians work, permanently or temporary, in foreign countries. Choosing where to live is up to the individual and I get the feeling that this article looks down on people leaving Romania. My wife works in a major Romanian hospital and a week ago the last working radiology device got broken and nobody is rushing to fix it. None works now and nothing can be

Quite a good cross section of expat experiences. The similarities of living abroad voluntarily and permanently in another culture are often the same no matter where one goes.

Irina Budrina According to my experience and background (I am an interculturalist by education and work experience) it is never an easy process. In fact it requires a lot of courage and cultural intelligence (including EQ and IQ) to deal with cultural issues. I am sure your heroes (the ones from the article) went through many interesting situations. Would be useful to hear how they dealt with them!

ROMANIA IN THE INTERNATIONAL PRESS A global center for human trafficking Romania is a point of transit for trafficking people into the European Union, according to David Batstone, co-founder of Not For Sale NGO, in a story featured on “Victims as young as 12 are trafficked into Romania from destinations as farreaching as Honduras, Afghanistan, the Congo, and China. Once they reach Romania, many of these victims are as-

signed for passage beyond into Western Europe,” says the article. The country’s location “makes it a source, transit and destination country for the people trade.” Romania’s accession to the European Union in 2007 also contributed, as it brought “more relaxed border regulations and enhanced its attraction for international human traffickers,” says the article. Romania is major center for buying and selling slaves for EU nations, with Hungary and Bulgaria.

WHAT WE ARE WORKING ON Dana Verdes Senior Journalist is reviewing financing sources available to investors interested in renewable projects and the existing compliance framework. One of the current investment hotspots, renewable energy has seen project announcements but many are still looking for financing.

Corina Dumitrescu Journalist is writing an article on the state of the local education system, how it compares with others in Europe, and how it prepares graduates for the local labor market. HR managers often complain about the lack of new graduates’ vocational skills despite their academic achievements.

Simona Bazavan Journalist is reporting on Bucharest’s hotel segment to see how the hospitality industry fared last year. By 2008 the number of hotel rooms in the city had almost doubled, but with many projects being put on hold last year the sector has slowed.

EVENTS, BUSINESS & POLITICAL AGENDA February 10-20 A project contest for young Romanian architects will take place at the National Museum of Contemporary Art. February 15 Final Distribution organizes a press conference in Baicoi, Prahova county. By invitation only. February16 11:00 A press conference will take place at the new Wella & Londa Professional studio. By invitation only.

19:00 The official launch of the Association of the Romanian Lobby Registry will take place at JW Marriott Bucharest Grand Hotel. By invitation only. February 17 10:30 Muller Dairy Romania organizes a press meeting with the company’s GM at Cafepedia. By invitation only. 16.30 KFC Romania organizes the Laser Tag Press Cup. By invitation only. February 22 ∫EVENT Business Review organizes the second

edition of the Swiss Business Forum event at Capital Plaza Hotel. For more information about registration and future Business Review events, please visit


March 17 ∫EVENT Business Review organizes the third edition of the Greek Business Forum event at Capital Plaza Hotel. For more information about registration and future Business Review events, please visit

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FOUNDING EDITOR Bill Avery EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Simona Fodor SENIOR JOURNALISTS Otilia Haraga, Dana Verdes JOURNALISTS Simona Bazavan, Corina Dumitrescu COPY EDITOR Debbie Stowe COLLABORATORS Anca Ionescu, Michael Barclay ART DIRECTOR Alexandru Oriean PHOTOGRAPHER Laurentiu Obae LAYOUT Beatrice Gheorghiu


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