Page 1

PETROM GETS EUR 400 MILLION LOAN FOR NEW POWER PLANT; SEE NEWS ON PAGE 5 NEWS

Central Bank governor Mugur Isarescu says this year’s inflation target set together with the IMF is achievable See page 4

GREEK INVESTMENTS

Romania has been a favorite destination of Greek investors but the recent economic downturn brought down the number of investing firms See pages 10 - 14

ANALYSIS

Interest in outdoor advertising is as keen as ever but slashed ad budgets and rules about msh displays challenge firms active on this segment See page 20

BUSINESS REVIEW www.business-review.ro

ROMANIA’S PREMIERE BUSINESS WEEKLY

MAY 11 - 17, 2009 / VOLUME 14, NUMBER 17

JOINT VENTURES TIME

Real estate developer Avrig 35 is working on several residential, office and retail projects, and is looking for strategic partners for its future projects. CFO Edwin Warmerdam says this is the time for joint ventures LAURENTIU OBAE

See page 9


BUSINESS REVIEW ROMANIA’S PREMIERE BUSINESS WEEKLY

MAY 11 - 17, 2009 / VOLUME 14, NUMBER 17

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BUSINESS REVIEW / May 11 - 17, 2009

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NEWS

BNR cuts key interest rate to 9.5 percent

BPV GRIGORESCU ADVISES ON EUR 1.5 BILLION PUBLIC ACQUISITIONS DEALS SINCE 2007 é Local law firm bpv Grigorescu said it advised on1.5 billion public acquisitions deals in the last 2 years. The largest contracts involved public transportation deals, the RoEduNet project, or acquisitions performed by ministries of Finance, of Health and Justice in Romania. bpv GRIGORESCU has a team of 29 legal advisers and ended 2008 with EUR 3 million in turnover, a 30 percent increase over the previous year.

The Romanian Central Bank has cut the key interest rate from 10 percent to 9.5 percent and has kept the same levels of mandatory minimum reserves for banks. Analysts expect the BNR to further slash the interest rate to 8.75 percent by the end of the year. The decision to reduce the interest rate was intended to ensure adequate monetary conditions and to revive the lending process, the BNR has said. Banks will first reduce interest rates on deposits and only after that interest rates on loans, following the BNR's decision to slash the key interest rate, said Adrian Vasilescu, counselor of the BNR governor. The move came in the week that both the International Monetary Fund and the European Commission approved financing for Romania. Following the news, the Romanian currency slightly appreciated, after having depreciated continuously since the beginning of the year. The annual rate of inflation slightly dropped to 6.7 percent in March from 6.8 percent in February on a slower increase in prices of services.

INSOLVENCY FILES MIGHT GROW BY 40 PERCENT IN 2009 é The number of insolvency files might grow by 40 percent in 2009 to reach over 20,000 companies, according to risk management agency Coface Romania. In the first 3 months of 2009, insolvency files grew by 58 percent compared with the same period of last year to reach a number of 5,173 companies. At the end of 2008, there were 14,483 registered companies involved in different insolvency files’ stages, the most affected segments being retail commerce (811), bulk commerce (2,932), constructions (1,666), transport (811), wood-based products companies (793) and restaurants (782). The least affected industries were energy, telecommunication and financial brokerage. LOCAL MANAGERS CAN OPT FOR CHINA TRAINING é European managers have been selected for professional training in China, on a ten-month program financed by the European Union. As many as 48 managers from 19 European member states have taken part in the program, with several Romanians included too. The EU covers the entire cost of training and give a monthly allowance. The fourth series of this program starts in May this year. 4

MEDIAFAX

BRIEFS

Mugur Isarescu, governor of the Romanian Central Bank BNR

Citi bank analysts estimate Romania will see an inflation of 5.5 percent this year, higher than the previous forecast of 5 percent. BNR targets a rate between 2.5 and 4.5 percent for this year, and the same for 2010. The inflation target was established together with the IMF. “It is a realistic and achievable target within the current uncertain economic context,” said the BNR governor Mugur Isarescu.

The IMF expects Romania to see a difficult 2009 and 2010, even with the financial support from the fund. Economic growth will be negative this year and zero in 2010, following a drop in worldwide economic activity, said Jeffrey Franks, the head of the IMF mission which negotiated the agreement for Romania. Romania's policies should allow the country to avoid the negative effects of the crisis and emerge as a more competitive economy, he added. The Romanian government should take measures to ensure the banking system stays healthy. “Banks agreed to allot some additional capital to cover for future losses, and foreign banks in Romania agreed to keep capital in the country,” Franks added. He mentioned the current account deficit and the budget deficit among Romania's major problems. “This program addresses these difficulties. As for the fiscal deficit, the government has already taken measures to decrease the imbalance, which will be within the Maastricht criteria by 2011,” said the IMF representative. Corina Saceanu

BRD sees increasing cost of risk biting into its Q1 profit Local lender BRD Societe Generale saw its net profit dropping by 19 percent to EUR 49 million in the first quarter of this year on the similar period of the last, mainly due to the increase in the cost of risk, the bank has announced. BRD is the second largest lender on the Romanian market asset wise. “We have seen a large drop in demand for loans and a significant increase in the cost of risk. These two factors were the main reasons which have triggered the reduction in economic activity and the very high in-

terest on deposits, especially on local currency. […] Although significantly higher than last year, the net cost of risk should be well below the average in the banking system,” said Patrick Gelin, president and general manager of BRD Societe Generale. Its costs for provisions grew three-fold compared to the first quarter of 2008, reaching EUR 47 million. The banks net revenues reached EUR 191 million, up 18 percent on the first quarter of 2008, and its gross profit

from banking activities reached EUR 108 million, up 20 percent. The total volume of loans granted to its customers grew by 19.5 percent, to some EUR 7.8 billion, and was equally split between individuals and firms. Deposits grew by 9.4 percent, and their total volume was slightly below the volume of loans. BRD Groupe Societe Generale has 2.6 million customers. Its assets were of EUR 11.9 billion at the end of March this year. Corina Saceanu

Economic crisis brings down the number of registered firms The number of companies that suspended their activity surged 13 times to 14,035 last month compared to April 2008, as voluntary liquidations advanced significantly according to data from the Trade Registry Office (ONRC). Most firms were from Bucharest (3,152), followed by companies in Brasov (958) and Galati (701).They operated in retail and wholesale, vehicle repair, real-estate transactions

or rentals. Also, the numbers of bankruptcies in Romania advanced by 55 percent y-o-y in the first three months, to 4,948 cases, while the number of newly-registered firms decreased by 34.4 percent. The most affected companies were those with Romanian capital, meaning 4,247 units. Companies in the retail industry, the car and motorcycle repairing and in the processing

industry and real estate topped the list of bankruptcies. The most cases were registered in Bucharest, 557. According to ONRC, 34.4 percent fewer companies were set up in the first quarter this year, over the similar period last year. The number slipped to 18,738, out of which more than 9,900 in the retail and gross sales. Dana Ciuraru BUSINESS REVIEW / May 11 - 17, 2009


NEWS

Petrom gets EUR 400 mln loan from EIB and EBRD Cosmote revenues increase by 84.2 percent, Romtelecom Petrom, oil and gas producer in SE Europe announced that it had borrowed EUR 400 million from international financial institutions to build a power plant. Petrom, majority owned by Austria’s OMV borrowed EUR 200 million from the European Investment Bank (EIB) and another EUR 200 million from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). Both loans have a 12 year maturity. The total value of the investment stands at EUR 500 million. The power plant, which Petrom plans to build by 2012 in the southern town of Brazi, will have an 860 MW capacity. Around 20 percent of its capacity will be used by Petrom. Earlier in the day, Petrom posted a 48 percent fall in its first-quarter net profit to USD 163.5 million, mainly due to lower oil prices. “For the two loans, we are practically completing the funding process agreed last year, which together with the loan from OMV and the cash flow generated by the company will secure the required resource to meet out objectives for 2009-2010. The two loans from EIB and EBRD will serve as

BUSINESS REVIEW / May 11 - 17, 2009

long-term financing for the Greenfield power plant in Brazi of 860 MW which costs over 500 million euros and which will provide 9% of the country’s power production”, said Mariana Gheorghe, Petrom CEO. Petrom has borrowed another EUR 1.175 billion since October both from banks and from its majority shareholder, OMV. Petrom contracted a EUR 300 million corporate unsecured loan on March 31 from the EBRD. The loan will be used to establish new environmental, health and safety standards. Moreover, in January Petrom announced that it had obtained a fiveyear revolving credit line from its majority shareholder, OMV. Petrom has 940 million boe oil and gas reserves, a maximum refining capacity of 8 million metric tons per year, approximately 550 filling stations in Romania and other 269 filling stations in Moldova, Bulgaria and Serbia. Austria’s OMV Group owns a majority equity position of 51.01 percent in Petrom. The Ministry of Economy holds 20.64 percent, while Fondul Proprietatea has a 20.11 percen t stake. Dana Ciuraru

revenues drop with 8.1 percent in Q1, 2009 Telecom company Cosmote Romania, part of the Greek group OTE, posted a positive EBITDA of EUR 13 million in the first quarter of 2009. The revenues of Cosmote Romania reached EUR 98 million in Q1, 2009, having increased with 84.2 percent com pared to Q1, 2008. In the first three months of this year, Cosmote Romania added 212,000 new customers to its customer base. Thus, the number of customers of Cosmote Romania increased in the first quarter of 2009 with 44.1 percent compared to Q1, 2008. The total number of customers of the company exceeds 6.1 million which corresponds to a market share of 23 percent. The number of postpay customers now represents 20 percent of the total customer base, having increased with 62 percent in Q1, 2009, compared to the similar period last year. The company announced it

would focus on expanding and modernizing infrastructure, the network of sales and customer relations services, according to Konstantinos Apostolou, CFO Cosmote Romania. Romtelecom Romania, the largest landline telephony operator on the market, also part of the OTE group, posted an operational profit of EUR 13.7 million compared to operational losses of EUR 14.2 million in the first three months of 2008. However, the revenues of Romtelecom Romania dropped to EUR 201.4 million, which represents an 8.1 percent decrease in the first quarter of this year compared to the similar period last year. The telecom operator also lost 2.9 percent of its landline customer base that it had in Q1, 2008. However, the number of clients increased on the segments of internet broadband and satellite television. Otilia Haraga

5


NEWS

Italian Gi Group buys Barnet McCall, plans local temporary staffing division Businesspeople Samantha and Charlie Crocker, owners of Barnett McCall Recruitment (BMR) company, have sold 60 percent of their shares in the company to Italian HR group Gi Group, marking the Italian

firm’s entry on the Romanian market. “We started discussions in August last year and finalized the deal in February this year. We needed an international strategic partner to take us to the next development

stage,” Charlie Crocker tells Business Review. The firm started to look for buyers at the beginning of last year, having hired a consultancy company to organize the process. “We ended up selecting Gi Group.

LAURENTIU OBAE

Charlie Crocker says the deal will aid in the firm’s development

We had similar values to them and feel they can accelerate the growth process,” says Crocker, who will stay with the company, along with his wife. Previously, the British owners wanted to expand the company regionally, but the new strategy will include the growth of the business’s temporary staffing division locally. “This is where the growth of the HR business is in Romania,” says Charlie Crocker. The new Italian owner will keep the Barnett McCall Recruitment brand as a legal entity and create a new company under the Gi Group brand to cover the temporary staffing business, with both entities coming under the Gi Group umbrella. It is Gi Group's strategy to keep local brands for specialty services. Barnett McCall posted a EUR 2.5 million turnover last year and hopes to achieve a similar result for this year. “Considering the 60 to 70 percent drop in the HR services market, I will be happy if we manage to achieve what we did last year,” says Crocker. On the longer term, the company wants to become one of the top three recruitment companies in Romania in the next five years, says Crocker. BMR employs 50 staff in Bucharest, Timisoara, Cluj-Napoca and Oradea offices. Gi Group is also present in France, Germany, Poland, Spain, Brazil, China, Hong Kong and India. Corina Saceanu 6

BUSINESS REVIEW / May 11 - 17, 2009


NEWS

Wolf Theiss sees Q1 revenues up 5 percent Nadia and Daniel Badea become first Romanian

LAURENTIU OBAE

Bryan Jardine, managing partner of the Bucharest office of Wolf Theiss

Law firm Wolf Theiss, which has advised on EUR 1 billion of deals last year in Romania, increased the turnover of its Romanian office by 15 percent in 2008 on the previous year, the firm has announced. This has placed the Romanian office second after Wolf Theiss' biggest office in Vienna, turnover wise.

BUSINESS REVIEW / May 11 - 17, 2009

In total, the group posted a EUR 50 million turnover in 2007 and grew that number by 50 percent last year. In the first quarter of the year, its turnover growth in Romania was of 5 percent. For the entire year, the firm expects to at least maintain the same level of revenues as last year. It plans to develop its intellectual property, labor law, restructuring and insolvency practices and to continue increasing its team of lawyers, to reach close to 60 lawyers in two or three years. Now the Bucharest office runs with 32 lawyers, in total 52 staff. The firm has three partners locally and eight senior lawyers. Wolf Theiss has recently advised on the Deutsche Bahn acquisition of Romtrans. The firm has also worked on the acquisition of Rompetrol by KazMunaiGaz. It has advised investment fund DEGI in its acquisition of a EUR 110 million office portfolio in Bucharest and Raiffeisen Evolution in acquiring a land plot from Petrom. Staff

equity partners in a Magic Circle firm Law firms Badea & Asociatii and Clifford Chance merged at the beginning of May, after having worked in association since 2006, when Clifford Chance entered the Romanian market. Daniel and Nadia Badea, partners in the firm, will be the first Romanians to become global equity partners in a Magic Circle law firm. The Romanian office will work under the Badea Clifford Chance name and will be headed by managing partner Daniel Badea. He is also heading the banking and capital market practice, while Nadia Badea, the real estate and M&A practices. “The merger consolidates seven years of collaboration [...] and offers the firm a platform to continue the development in the South East of Europe,� said Daniel Badea. Badea & Asociatii was created in 2002 by Daniel and Nadia Badea. The Bucharest office has four partners and employs 50 lawyers. Clifford Chance is present in

Central and Eastern Europe since 1991, when it opened its Moscow office. It has expanded to currently 36 partners and over 320 lawyers in its offices in Bucharest, Budapest, Moscow, Prague, Warsaw and Kiev. Worldwide, the firm runs offices in 21 countries and employs over 3,200 lawyers. Badea Clifford Chance has been ranked first among law firms in Romania on Banking and Finance and Real Estate by Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners Global for 2009. Of the five magic Circle law firms, Allen & Overy and Badea Clifford Chance are the only ones who still have an office in Romania. Linklaters has closed down its local office in a wider restructuring move across the region. Some of its lawyers went on to create regional law firm Kinstellar. Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer is working on Romanian projects without having an office locally. Corina Saceanu

7


CALENDAR / WHO’S NEWS

EVENTS, BUSINESS AND POLITICAL AGENDA MAY 12

é 09.00- Wolf Theiss organizes debate on distressed assets and debt re-

covery at Hilton Hotel, Regina Maria room. é 11.30- Save the Children organizes event as part of the global campaign

for education at the University of Bucharest.

MAY 13 é Business Review organizes Greek Business Forum at Intercontinental

Hotel Bucharest, 0900 hours. Contact Business Review Sales Director Oana Molodoi at 0720 222 247 for more information. é 11.00- CMU Baneasa launches Stem Health Unirea, the first stem cell

bank with a deposit in Romania. é 11.00- Regus Group inaugurates third location in Bucharest at Calea

Floreasca 169A, Corp A, sector 1. é 13.00- Beautik Haute Parfumerie launches Caron perfume collection at

Brown Sugar club (5 Primaverii Blvd.)

MAY 14 é 16.00- Flamingo announces financial results at Pullman Hotel, Seoul

room.

AmCham Romania brings suggestions for business-friendly fiscal code The American Chamber of Commerce in Romania (AmCham Romania) is lobbying for several urgent adjustments to be made to the new fiscal code, some of them related to the introduction of a holdings law, the repayment of VAT and other charges within the legal period of time. Some of these suggestions were made by Ionut Simion, tax partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers and a member of AmCham’s board. “With a holdings law, companies would operate on the local market instead of going to other countries where there is suitable legislation for this. And, as in any other economic process, companies should recover the repayable taxes and other charges within the legal period, otherwise, they should get paid interest for the sums which are blocked in the state budget,” Simion said. He also pointed out the discrepancy between the applied legislative measures from the National Agency for Fiscal Administration (ANAF) and the previous agreements. 8

Marius Pesinaru, country manager of Xerox Romania and member of AmCham’s board, suggested a more flexible scheme regarding the labor legislation included in the new Fiscal Code. “We submitted with the Ministry of Labor over 70 suggestions regarding the existing legislative outline, the unions’ law and the group work contracts,” said Pesinaru. The representative said that, for example, the current legislative framwork makes dismissal procedures very complicated. On energy, AmCham’s board plans to lobby for a stable and firm law regarding energy efficiency and preservation both for the public and private sector. Sorin Mandrutescu, the AmCham president, also called for consultation and involvement of the business community in the decision-making affecting the economic and social environment and pointed out that sustainable, transparent and predictable measures should be adopted, aimed at economic proficiency and effectiveness. Magda Purice

WHO’S MICHAEL KRAHN, 48, is the new general manager of Praktiker Romania. He has 19 years of experience in the Praktiker group. Before taking up this position, he worked as sales manager for Praktiker Poland. Krahn was previously a member in the administration board of Praktiker Romania from 2002 until the end of 2007 as sales manager. EUGEN LASCU, former executive manager of Raiffeisen Bank Romania, was appointed vice-president in UTI group. He will be in charge with coordinating all the financial activities of the companies in the group. Previously, Urdareanu coordinated all corporate loan- related activities in Raiffeisen Romania.

NEWS billion, as well as real estate finance, acquisition finance and greenfield investments in the energy sector. TIBERIUS ISTOCESCU has been appointed Managing Partner of Istocescu& Vintila Attorneys at Law. Istocescu specializes in M&A advisory, EU Funds and restructuring. He also holds academic qualifications in business engineering and EU Law. The firm he runs comprises a team of 12 lawyers specialized in M&A, restructuring, corporate&commercial, capital markets, regulatory compliance and dispute resolution.

CRISTIAN MOANTA, 47, is the new Marketing Manager of Altex Romania. He has over 15 years of experience in distribution, promotion and sale of electronic products locally. Before taking up this position, he was branch manager of Sony Romania. He coordinated local operations of Sony developing the presence of the brand in Romania but also in the Moldova Republic and Israel.

IRINA PENCEA was appointed executive manager in Odyssey but will continue to temporarily coordinate directly the Client Service department until a new Client Service Director is appointed. Pencea has 10 years of experience in advertising and has been a part of the Odyssey team and management since the agency was founded in January 2004. Since June 2006 she became Client Service Director. Previously, she was part of the team D’Arcy Romania, being Account Director in charge of the Mobifon account.

MIHAI DUDOIU, 33, was appointed Managing Associate with Tuca Zbarcea & Asociatii and Co-ordinator of the firm’s Banking & Finance practice group. Previously, he was Senior Associate and Cocoordinator of the Banking and International Finance Department of CMS Cameron McKenna for 3 years. He worked for 10 years as a corporate and international finance lawyer in Bucharest, having acted on numerous secured financing syndicated transactions with an aggregate value in excess of EUR 1

CAMELIA PANAIT, Group Brand Manager for Mainstream and Value brands at Ursus Breweries, is joining the Effie Jury for the first time. She came to Ursus Breweries in April 2008 as Group Brand Manager for Worthmore Brands. Before that, she worked at Pernod Ricard as Marketing Manager. Panait also attended the International MBA program of Instituto de Empresa, Madrid, Spain, where she graduated in December 2007.

Business Review welcomes information for Who’s News from readers. Feel free to contact us on 206 0680 (10 lines), by fax at 335 3474 or e-mail: otilia.haraga@bmg.ro

BUSINESS REVIEW / May 11 - 17, 2009


FEATURE

LAURENTIU OBAE

Edwin Warmerdam, CFO with Avrig 35, is looking for potential strategic partners for several projects

Avrig 35 goes residential with plans for affordable housing Real estate developer Avrig 35 is working on several residential, office and retail projects, and plans some more retail and residential for the future. With available equity from previous sales and banking financing in place, the developer is looking for strategic partners for some of its projects, and, although not in a hurry, plans to eventually sell its properties. By Corina Saceanu

When asked whether the company had lost any money in the real estate down spiral, Edwin Warmerdam, the chief financial officer of developer Avrig 35, knocks on wood while saying no. The company has three projects under construction and a few others in advanced stages of planning. It has equity from previous sales, bank financing in place for most of its ongoing projects and a 5 million sqm land bank. It seems to be recession proof, but it still wants to share risk BUSINESS REVIEW / May 11 - 17, 2009

and is looking for strategic partners for some of its projects. “This is the right moment to take joint venture partners on board, to manage to develop all the pipeline. There is only so much one can bear on one’s shoulders,” says Warmerdam. Using partners is not a new approach for Avrig 35. The Iris commercial center in Titan was developed in partnership with Aerium, while Charles de Gaulle Plaza, the office building Warmerdam overlooks from the firm’s rented offices across the street, was a development in partnership with CA Immo. Both

projects were eventually sold to third parties, which is what Avrig 35 intends to do with the ones it still holds. But at the moment “we haven't asked for any offers, we are not exactly looking. There is nobody knocking on the door in the current market, just opportunistic buyers looking for distressed assets,” says Warmerdam. Meanwhile, the firm is working on its first residential project, a 60unit building on Mihai Eminescu Street, and is planning some more residential properties. The biggest of them will be a planned 3,000-unit project in the Baneasa area of Bucharest, where the developer owns 35 hectares of land. “The Baneasa project will deliver affordable housing. We want to sell it for around EUR 1,000 per sqm. You get the volume of sales on the affordable market. Most people are looking for EUR 60,000-70,000 apartments, not for EUR 200,000 apartments,” Warmerdam explains. The first phase of the project should deliver 750 apartments, but “this is not the kind of project which we will start this year, I hope we will do it next year,” the CFO goes on. Two other residential project, but smaller and more upmarket, are also planned for Bucharest. A 30,000-sqm office complex is also under construction on Avrig Street, close to the developer's former headquarters, the Avrig 35 building. The developer has owned the land for six years, but started the project last year, and hope to complete it in 2010. A third project soon to go under construction is the third phase of its retail project in Titan, which will add some big box retailers like World Class, Kiabi and Go Sport, expected for delivery in 12 months. The first two phases of the project were bought by investment fund DEGI, which has an option to buy this third phase too. For the ongoing projects, Avrig 35 says it has attracted funding from several banks on the Romanian market, and is currently negotiating with BCR over a loan for the third phase of the Titan project. For the larger residential project in Baneasa, the developer is talking to a syndication of banks led by UniCredit. “We have been negotiating for a long period of time, because this is not the right moment to put a massive affordable residential project in the pipeline,” says Warmerdam. A partnership with Cascade

Group is ongoing for a mixed project in Theodor Pallady area, where the developer owns 30 hectares of land. The project is planned to deliver 100,000 sqm of retail, residential and some offices. “But it is wishful thinking that under these market circumstances we would be able to attract financing at reasonable commercial terms,” says Warmerdam, so this is a project to begin later on within a two-year time frame. A partnership with Industrialexport was used for Bucharest Tower Center office building too, but the project, which was completed in autumn last year, is yet to be leased. “We have agreed with our partners on the leasing strategy and we are ready to accept leases […] The building was originally in a pre-sale agreement for 40 percent of it to Alpha Bank, and our partners are still negotiating with them over the contractual terms,” Warmerdam adds. Countrywide, Avrig 35 is asset manager for the office portfolio it has sold to NEPI and in charge of leasing some of the space there, and is refurbishing an office building in Brasov, also sold to the same fund. It has similar plans for an office building in Constanta, which could also be acquired by NEPI. Its plans for the future include a chain of commercial centers with additional office and residential spaces in several cities such as Focsani, Buzau, Piatra Neamt, Suceava and Timisoara. “In the past we felt it was an unacceptable risk to start only with the food anchors and the doit-yourself stores, so at this stage we would like to obtain a much higher pre-lease percentage. If we have 50 percent of the galleria leased out, then we think we should put it under construction, and we can finance it,” Warmerdam explains. A standard investment in such a project, some 30-40,000 sqm of space, would cost around EUR 50 million. The group of investors who own Avrig 35, including Alexander Hergan, have not only looked at real estate in Romania. Its non-real estate activities, managed through an investment fund, include companies like glass facade producer Flexxelf, TV station Pratech TV and Pratech Production. It also owns several master franchises, like retailers Cache-Cache and Go Sport, and is looking at adding several others. corina_saceanu@bmg.ro 9


GREEK INVESTMENTS REVIEW By Dana Ciuraru

STOCKEXCHANGE

Greek investments in Romania are estimated to reach half of last year’s level

Greek investors sail towards Romania’s hotspots In an agitated economic climate and an unstable fiscal environment, Greek investors keep investing in the telecommunication, food, health and banking sectors. Meanwhile, green energy and distribution are attracting further Greek cash. What might dent their enthusiasm is the continuous changes in legislation and tax and the lack of good infrastructure. 10

Greek businesspeople are among the most long-standing foreign direct investors in Romania. Many of them started operations on the local market as long as 15 years ago, a period in which most of them adapted to the colorful local economic climate. The Romanian market has seen considerable expansion in the past four years, making it a favorable one among Eastern European countries. Greek investors cite the continuous changes in legislation and fiscal policies, lack of predictability for future business developments and the lack of a good infrastructure as Romania’s weak points. However, these challenges, along with the current economic and financial turmoil which Romania is currently facing, haven’t become a scarecrow for foreigners. “On the long term, Romania remains an attractive country for foreign investors. Its Central European position and the particularities of the local market offer an important commercial advantage for the business environment. Romania is one of the biggest markets in terms of population among CEE countries with significant natural resources. Romania also offers opportunities for development in alternative energies, tourism, infrastructure, agriculture and other fields,” Andreas Maragkoudakis, CEO of Banca Romaneasca, told Business Review.

GREEK BANKS BET ON STABILITY The National Bank of Greece (NBG), one of the largest financial groups in South-Eastern and Central Europe, became the main shareholder of Banca Romaneasca in 2003. Currently, NBG holds 89.07 percent, and the EBRD also joined the bank in 2005, presently owning a 10.21 percent stake. When it was acquired in 2003, the bank reported EUR 166 million in assets, EUR 267,015 in net profit and had 652 employees. By comparison, last year, it reported assets of EUR 2.3 billion, and a net profit of EUR 26.4 million, representing a 100 fold increase, while the number of personnel has almost tripled, reaching 1,680 in 150 branches. “Banca Romaneasca increased its share capital between 2003 and 2008 more than fifteen times, in order to sustain the bank’s strategy and develBUSINESS REVIEW / May 11 - 17, 2009


GREEK INVESTMENTS REVIEW million last year. The Greek investor increased its number of employees by 796 to 2,651 last year, in the context of opening 75 new branches to reach a network of 200.

GREEK CONSOLIDATION IN TELECOM COURTESY OF BANCA ROMANEASCA

MEDIAFAX

COURTESY OF MEDSANA

Vassilis Chaniotis, Medsana general manager

Yorgos Ioannidis, Romtelecom CEO

Andreas Maragkoudakis, Banca Romaneasca CEO

opment. The most significant increase of EUR 100 million took place last year, when the investment level reached around EUR 200 million. There were other substantial funds attracted from NBG, so that the market share in terms of assets increased from less than 1 percent to 3 percent,” said Andreas Maragkoudakis, CEO of Banca Romaneasca. He added: “The main focus in lending will be on the SME and corporate segments, but we will also continue to support retail loans. Be-

sides the support we are receiving from the mother company, we will also continue to encourage savings by offering competitive products and interest rates.” The Banca Romaneasca official says that the financial institution plans to have a calculated growth and to reach a 10 percent increase in assets this year. “Strategically, the bank wants to maintain an appropriate liquidity position to sustain moderate growth this year, improve the level of productivity and effectiveness focus-

ing on deposits and collection, enhance the range of liabilities products in order to sustain the fund-raising activity and maintain a good quality and structure of assets,” said the CEO. A qualified and inexpensive labor force is one of the advantages offered by Romania, the Banca Romaneasca CEO added. Another Greek bank with operations in Romania is Alpha Bank. The lender reported a 20.8 percent increase in pre-tax profit to EUR 45.8

Telecommunication has attracted three major Greek players: OTE present locally with landline operator Romtelecom and mobile telephony operator Cosmote, and Germanos Group Greece. The Romanian subsidiary of OTE group, OTE International Investments Ltd, became a Romtelecom shareholder in 1998, acquiring a 35 percent stake and taking over the company. In 2003, OTE became Romtelecom’s majority shareholder. Since 1999, Romtelecom has invested about EUR 1.7 billion, EUR 100 million of which was spend last year alone. “The investments went particularly into modernizing the telecommunication infrastructure, introducing new technologies, improving the customer service system as well as diversifying the products and services portfolio,” Yorgos Ioannidis, CEO of Romtelecom, told BR. continued on page 13

shops, or it may be on the list of the biggest tax payers in Romania. Among the things we are proud of, the most important is that in time we became to be perceived by our clients as ‘part of the team’, and not the external legal adviser. What are the main issues you clients need advising on right now? Has anything changed because of the economic crisis? Indeed, things have changed because of the current economic climate. On one hand, in real estate we have noticed an abrupt halt of transactions in fall last year, followed by a slight improvement, due to acquisition of distressed assets. On the other hand, we are facing a continuous growth of enquires related to labour issues, and of the number of litigation cases. Clients are also paying now more attention to their tax exposure and consequently we are lately working extensively on such assignments. I am also surprised of the large number of cases of voluntary liquidations, even before the recent change of the fiscal legislation which imposed a forfeiting tax.

Marian Lucu, Managing Partner - Lucu Tsignopoulou Associates

When did you decide to set up a presence in Romania and why? The law firm operates since 2003, initially under a different name, and it was initially created as the affiliated law firm of Baker Tilly Klitou for business ventures seeking professional legal, audit and accounting services.

BUSINESS REVIEW / May 11 - 17, 2009

What would you advise Greek investors interested in doing business in Romania? I’d rather restrain myself from giving them any advice in this respect. I am sure that they know better than me their line of business and the opportunities in Romania. Instead, I would like to share with them the best piece of advice I have received lately, which came from a very dear client, a British-Cypriot developer that has lived through similar times in early nineties, in London: the lesson he learned was that there is nothing one can do to change the general environment; however, what one should do is to literally mind his business.

ADVERTORIAL

How big is the local firm? What are the main practice areas? What are your main clients? We have a total staff of twelve people, out of which nine lawyers. Our practice focuses on corporate and commercial, real estate, tax, mergers and acquisitions, labour issues, and litigation. The typical profile of our client is an international corporation, often listed on the stock exchange, who has entrusted us to deal with the legal affairs of its subsidiary in Romania. This corporation may act in the heavy industry, FMCG, banking or construction sector, it may be one of the main distributors of appliances, an international soft-drinks producer or the world’s leading chain of coffee

How are you adapting your strategy to the present economic climate? There are two things that have changed in our strategy because of this: we have reallocated resources to serve the additional amount of work in litigation, labour and tax, and we are now dedicating more time to client development and consolidation of the identity of our office, something that we did not feel the need to do during the last years when we were too busy serving our clients. However, the fundamentals have not changed: we still offer legal services in the same areas and we did not become overnight specialists in other areas, we still offer the same profitable pricing policy that our clients are already used to, and we are still careful with the professional development of our staff.

11


GREEK INVESTMENTS REVIEW / INTERVIEW By Dana Ciuraru

LAURENTIU OBAE

Economic crisis leaves Greek

investments on downturn The current economic crisis has put a foot on the brake for the investments of Greek-owned companies in Romania. IOANNIS PASCHALIS, minister and counselor of economic and commercial affairs with the Embassy of Greece in Romania, told Business Review that this year the investments level will be between EUR 200 million and EUR 300 million, down 50 percent from last year’s level. However, Greek investors continue to show interest in renewable energy and agriculture. 12

What impact is the current economic environment having on foreign direct investments on the local market? I came to Romania in November 2006. I encountered here something that I had never had to deal with in 30 years of experience in seven countries: thousands of Greek investors. In fact, Romania is the top destination for Greek investors worldwide, with more than EUR 3.5 billion invested since 1992. The biggest wave of Greek investors in Romania came around the year 2000, when financial institutions like Alpha Bank set up here. Our statistics show that 4,500 Greekowned companies had been registered in Romania by the end of January 2009, of which I estimate that around 1,000 firms are active. This discrepancy is because most of these companies were formed just so the owners could buy a piece of land. Comparing the data from December last year to the end of January this year, 26 new Greek firms have registered in Romania, despite the crisis. This is encouraging. How much did Greek-owned companies invest in Romania last year? Additional investment in 2008 compared to 2007 is around EUR 500 million, according to data from the Romanian Central Bank. Banks have increased their share capital to be able to face the crisis. The telecommunication company Cosmote also invested a lot last year. Greek-owned banks and Cosmote alone invested EUR 400 million last year. My estimation is that the investments of Greek-owned companies in Romania will be at half of last year’s level. Cosmote and Romtelecom will continue to develop their products. Cosmote will continue to improve its network to reach every corner of the country this year. And Romtelecom keeps expanding in rural areas and bringing out new products. The investments announced by these two multinational companies alone exceed some EUR 200 million. Which sectors are attractive for FDI in Romania? One sector that has already

caught the attention of Greek investors is energy, and in fact everybody expects that investments in this sector will be higher than in previous years. The Public Power Corporation, a Greek state-owed company through its division PPC Renewable, and Greek firm Terna are interested in investing in the renewable energy sector. State company Astrofos, which is specialized in engineering in oil and gas, GP and Avax are also keen to invest in Romania and participate in different tenders. And the Greek company Mytilineos has started a hydro-electric project in partnership with General Electric. Another sector which has piqued Greek investors’ interest is agriculture. I know that there are several investors looking to buy bigger pieces of land to cultivate wheat. One such is Jean Valvis – after he sold his business he shifted his focus towards the vineyard business. Other Greek-owned companies with operations in Romania are investing in pig and sheep farms or have shifted towards the logistic and distribution sector. What are the ups and downs of the local economic environment? It is true that a few Greek-owned companies have had problems with tenders: they complain that they have been unfairly excluded, and when they seek remedy in court, the decision is not an objective one. Furthermore, there are problems with local authorities. For instance, one company receives a permit to build a building and then another central authority withdraws the permission. One example is when OSIM, the organization for patents, granted a patent to a Greek-owned firm and then the same organization almost withdrew it. The list goes on. Other Greekowned companies invest in a factory and want to have 300 meters of nearby road asphalted, but because it is situated on the boundary of two different counties, neither authority considers itself responsible, so the street remains without asphalt for two or three years. Moreover, there are some cases of taxation problems too, especially when it comes to excess duties. dana.ciuraru@bmg.ro BUSINESS REVIEW / May 11 - 17, 2009


GREEK INVESTMENTS REVIEW continued from page 11

BUSINESS REVIEW / May 11 - 17, 2009

A

HEALTHY MARKET

Greek investors have not shied away from the health sector. “In the medical sector, growth has been more or less constant in the past years, and it was the only sector that was not significantly affected during the expansion years, nor during the crisis,” Vassilis Chaniotis, Medsana GM, told BR. The company has been present on the local market as an investment of Athens Medical Center group from Greece since 1996. The total value of investments to date surpasses EUR 14 million, and went into developing the clinic network. The company reported a USD 800,000 turnover and a gross profit of USD 22,500 with 25 employees in 1998. Last year, turnover reached EUR 6.5 million and the gross profit hiked to EUR 500,000. Its staff had also grown to 165 employees. The strategy of Athens Medical Center, of which Medsana is a part, is to develop greenfield investments. “We plan to open two new clinics in Bucharest this year and to initiate a hospital project. The hospital will offer multidisciplinary medical services with a built surface of 15,000 sqm and a 150-200 bed capacity. For the two medical centers we plan to open this year the total investments will reach EUR 2 million,” said Chaniotis.

RETAIL

GOES

GREEK

On the retail side, the name of Greek company Elmec Romania is strongly linked with the Romanian market. Elmec Romania was estab-

lished in 1999 as a subsidiary of Elmec Sports, one of the leading commercial companies in Greece, and started its operations here as a Nike product distributor. The first Nike store was opened in the center of Bucharest in December 1999. Currently, the company has 23 Nike stores, three Nike outlet stores and two Nike shop-in-shops nationwide. “Three years later, with the same enthusiasm, we made our first move in creating an innovative and unique retail concept in Romania by launching the Famous Brands store model. The company kept on growing by enlarging its brand portfolio and expanding the retail networks for both Nike and Famous Brands. The turnover figures recorded double digit increases year after year and Elmec Romania always maintained its position as one of the leading players in the industry,” Cristian Beznoska, CEO Elmec Romania, told BR. In 2007, the two Famous Brands galleries in Bucharest Mall and Plaza Romania opened under the shop-inshop retail concept. More than EUR 2 million was invested in 2007 in retail network development, personnel training and permanent improvement of the services offered to clients. At the end of 2007, Elmec Romania became part of the Greek group Folli Follie, which has over 300 jewelry and accessories stores in cities around the world. “Our turnover increased to more than EUR 50 million last year. We now have 40 stores all over the country, more than 40 wholesale partners and our expansion plans continue. This year, even though it is a turbulent business year for everyone, we are very optimistic regarding our plans for new store openings, extending our portfolio with additional top brands and investments in new projects in Romania and Moldova,” said Beznoska. Another Greek retail company active on the Romanian market is Sprider. Company officials say that

they plan to reach 30 stores by 2010, from the current 14 units, through the franchise system. Georgios Dyonisatos, Sprider Stores GM in Romania, says the average investment the firm has put into its local stores so far is about EUR 500,000, clothing stock included. The Greek retailer, which also runs stores in Croatia and Bulgaria, wants to add home products to its stores, under the Sprider Home brand, which will be launched in Romania in autumn. “We will start by adding Sprider Home in four existing stores, two in Bucharest, one in Timisoara and one in Cluj-Napoca,” says Dyonisatos.

GREEK INVESTMENTS SPICE UP FOOD SECTOR This year, the Greek toast bread producer Karamolegos Bakery started its first investment on the local market. The company announced a EUR 10 million investment in a bread factory in the Popesti Leordeni area. Meanwhile, Greek company Epitome, established in Romania last year, is also making its first investment on the Romanian market: Illusions restaurant. Illusions GM Aris Tsouros is one of the three Greek private investors who control the facility. The Greek investors have put EUR 1.4 million into modernization works and the interior design of the restaurant. The hosting building, formerly home to the Hungarian Embassy in Bucharest, was rented through a 10-year leasing contract signed in June last year. “We want to position ourselves in the market as an exclusive luxury restaurant, and therefore we have partnerships with luxury brands on the local market. Epitome is a private company but, currently, we want to create and consolidate market awareness,” said Tsouros. Some of the brands involved in partnerships with Illusion restaurant are Maserati, Longines, and other names displayed in a small shopping gallery located in the building. ■

Trade balance between Greece and Romania Greek exports to Romania Greek imports from Romania Volume Balance

2006

2007

2008

Change 07-08 (%)

595.82

774.65

772.42

-0.28

505.26

535.96

525.25

-1.99

1,101.08 90.56

1,310.61 238.69

1,297.67 247.17

-0.94 3.55

SOURCE: THE NATIONAL STATISTICAL SERVICE OF GREECE

Cosmote Romania, member of Cosmote Group, launched commercial operations in December 2005. The company has also developed attractive solutions for the corporate customers, while in May 2007 it introduced i-mode exclusively in the Romanian market. Cosmote exceeded 3.6 million customers on December 2007. Cosmote Romania has currently 850 stores across the country, counts more than 1,000 employees and has a strategic partnership agreement with the Internity stores. Moreover, since November 2006, Germanos Romania represents and distributes exclusively Cosmote products and services. Since it entered the Romanian market, Cosmote invested over EUR 600 million. At the end of 1998, when OTE took over Romtelecom, the local company reported EUR 1.12 billion in revenues, about EUR 386 million in EBITDA and 48,441 employees. By comparison, last year revenue reached EUR 869.8 million, while the reported EBITDA was EUR 291.6 million. Over this period, Romtelecom has reduced the number of its employees to 10,344. The operator’s strategic plans for last year involved improving internal procedures, offering competitive services in order to increase the client database and intensify the company’s presence on the market segments which post growth, meaning internet and digital television, along with a strong cost control. This strategy will be implemented this year as well. Most of the company’s investments go into infrastructure development in order to provide broadband internet, both fixed and mobile. The current economic climate has left a mark even on the telecommunication sector, but the Romtelecom CEO is more optimistic. “We expect the telecommunication industry to be less affected by the world economic crisis than other industries such as the automotive industry and real estate. Of course, we will suffer a decrease in consumption and a new approach to spending. This is why we estimate a slowdown on some segments as internet or television, compared with previous years,” said Ioannidis. Germanos is similarly optimistic. “The Q1 results are in line with our planned objectives. Obviously, we are attentively following the market evolution and, if made necessary by the evolution of the economic con-

text, we will adjust our strategy. Nevertheless a long-term forecast is risky, because of market unpredictability,” Germanos officials told BR. Germanos Group Greece entered the local market in 1996, by opening a battery store in the Unirea shopping center in the middle of Bucharest. In 2000 Germanos Telecom Romania was set up, and the firm began to work with mobile phone operators. In January 2006, Germanos opened its 100th store, and in 2006 the company was acquired by Cosmote Group. In 2007, Germanos acquired the telecom retailer Telsim GSM and February of last year saw the opening of store number 200. Currently, Germanos Telecom Romania has a network of 260 shops and a large service portfolio. According to company representatives, this year the company will focus on improving its store visibility on the market and the quality of its services.

Numbers expressed in million euros 13


GREEK COMPANIES ACTIVE IN ROMANIA Year established Employees

Investor company - Country - Stake

Capital stock Turnover (RON) 2008 2007

Gross profit / loss ((RON) 2008 2007

Activity

Top local executive Phone Fax

AEGEK SA ATENA SUCURSALA LIPSCANI Str. Lipscani 102, et. 5 Bucure[ti, cod 030039 office@aegef.ro

2002 13

Aegek SA - Greece - 100%

WND 0 7,105,511

- 4,333,609 - 543,901

construction

Fotiadis Miltiadis Legal Representative 021-312-8916 021-312-8736

ALPHA BANK ROMANIA Calea Doroban]ilor nr. 237B Bucure[ti, cod 010566 info@alphabank.ro www.alphabank.ro

1994 2,500

Alpha Bank Group - Greece - 100%

593,618,274 WND WND

45,800,000 EUR 37,900,000 EUR

banking

Sergiu Oprescu Executive President 021-209-2100 021-231-6570

ALPHA LEASING ROMANIA IFN SA Calea Buze[ti nr. 14-18, et. 1-2 Bucure[ti, cod 011014 marketing@alphaleasing.ro www.alphaleasing.ro

1998 71

Alpha Bank AE - 62,9412% Alpha Bank Romania SA 15% Alpha Leasing AE - 16,3606% Alpha Finance Romania SA - 5,6912% Alpha Advisory Romania SRL - 0,0070%

4,695,000 WND WND

WND

financial leasing

Aris Gogos Managing Director 021-264-9000 021-264-9009 021-314-9024

ALUMIL ROM INDUSTRY SA Calea Rahovei nr. 286A Bucure[ti, cod 050912 office@alumil.ro www.alumil.ro

1997 300

Alumil Milonas SA - Greece - 55.9% Michail Sotiriou - Greece - 24%

60,000,000 113,620,804 111,643,948

9,567,401 14,103,716

production & distribution of aluminium profiles for architectural applications, system accessories, aluminium composite panels, polycarbonate sheets, tools for processing aluminium profiles, interior, security & fireproof doors, automatic doors

Michail Sotiriou President & CEO 021-424-3456 021-424-3459 021-423-3932

BANCA ROMÂNEASC~ SA - member of The National Bank of Greece Group Bd. Unirii nr. 35, Bucure[ti, cod 030822 office@brom.ro ww.banca-romaneasca.ro

1992 1,679 (december 2008)

National Bank of Greece - Greece - 89.07% European Bank for Reconstruction and Development - 10.21%

748,648,220 874,891,331 515,608,247

18,971,298 8,348,897

banking

Andreas Theodoros Maragkoudakis General Manager 021-305-9000 021-305-9300 021-305-9191

COSMOTE ROMÅNIA Bd. Nicolae Titulescu nr. 4 -8, Cladirea America House, Aripa Vest, et. 5-6 Bucure[ti, cod 011141 info@cosmote.ro www.cosmote.ro

2005 > 1,000

Cosmote Mobile Telecommunications SA Greece - 70% Romtelecom SA - Romania - 30%

WND 311,000,000 EUR 155,600,000 EUR

WND

mobile telecommunications

Stefanos Theocharopoulos CEO 021-404-1234 WND

ELGEKA FERFELIS ROMÅNIA SA Drumul \ntre tarlale nr.150-158 Bucure[ti, cod 032982 home@elgeka-ferfelis.ro www.elgeka-ferfelis.ro

2002 480

Elgeka Cyprus LTD - Cyprus - 50.02% Illian Services LTD - Cyprus - 49.98%

22,581,500 285,193,622 193,582,670

WND

national distribution of FMCG products & lubricants

Ferfelis Ioannis General Manager 021-204-6600 021-204-6627

FRIGOGLASS ROMÅNIA SRL DN 59 Timi[oara-Moravi]a, Km 16 Sat Par]a, jud. Timi[, cod 307396 romania.office@frigoglass.com www.frigoglass.com

1994 483

Coolinvest Holding LTD. - Cyprus - 100%

1,723,810 329,101,332 294,487,028

62,892,681 48,583,453

manufacturer of Ice Cold Merchandisers products & provider of services

Elias Koutsogiannis Plant Manager 0256-407-530 0256-395-258

GECA SA Str. Vasile Lucaciu nr. 78 Bucure[ti, cod 030695 office@geca-sa.ro

1996 15

General Cables Ofranidis Bross SA - Creece 100%

618,310 6,442,868 6,592,082

- 165,921 474,495

trade with cables, electric materials & lighting bodies

Panagiotis Trapalis Director 021-323-5097 021-223-3859 021-323-4819

1996 aprox. 350

WND

3,790,500 489,654,153 378,571,779

2,480,873 19,341,933

distribution & retail

Ionas Ignatios Administrator 021-201-1180 021-201-1187

2001 WND

Yfantis Axch Industrial and Commercial SA Greece - 79.75% Luncheon Meat Evrou SA - Greece - 19.95%

32,858,190 20,288,174 23,798,760

WND

meat preparations manufacturing

Zafeiris Georgios General Manager 021-300-7984 021-300-7989 021-350-1934

1994 283 (end of 2008)

Zoulama Holdings Limited - Cyprus 99,9852% Physical Persons - Cyprus - 0,0148%

94,846.5 77,679,771 63,872,997

- 3,542,304 2,164,523

soaps, detergents & household cleaning products manufacturing

Chrysis Nikolaou CFO 021-256-4636 021-256-4626

INTRAROM Str. Fabrica de Glucoz` nr. 17 Bucure[ti, cod 020331 office@intrarom.ro www.intrarom.ro

1993 588

INTRACOM SA Telecom Solutions - Greece 66,7% others - 33,3%

37,014,894 498,133,041 188,509,390

24,582,603 15,055,921

IT & C

Nikolaos Doukakis CEO 021-204-0906 021-204-0902

MEDSANA BUCHAREST MEDICAL CENTER SRL Str. Dr. Nanu Muscel nr. 12 Bucure[ti, cod 050521 office@medsana.ro www.medsana.ro

1996 165

Athens Medical Center Group of Companies - Greece - 100%

WND 25,910,000 19,000,000

2,000,000 2,660,553

medical services, multifunctional diagnosis medical centers

Vassilis Chaniotis General Manager 021-9607 021-408-7800 021-402-8076

PIRAEUS BANK ROMÅNIA Bd. Carol I nr. 34-36 Bucure[ti, cod 020922 office@piraeusbank.ro www.piraeusbank.ro

1995 1,846

Piraeus Bank Greece - Greece - 99.99 % Romanian Individuals - Romania - 0.01%

916,587,213 617,565,567 317,036,418

158,920,400 73,362,034

banking

C`t`lin Pârvu Executive General Manager 021-303-6969 021-317-3116

318,464,490 869,800,000 871,900,000

WND

telecommunications

Yorgos Ioannidis CEO 021-1930 WND

Company Address E-mail Web page

GENCO TRADE SRL Str. Biharia nr. 67-77, Complex Metav Bucure[ti, cod 013981 office@genco.ro www.genco.ro / www.intersport.ro IFANTIS ROMÅNIA SA Calea Bucure[tilor nr. 301B Otopeni, jud. Ilfov, cod 075100 office@ifantis.ro www.ifantis.ro INTERSTAR CHIM SA Bd. Basarabia nr. 256 Bucure[ti, cod 030352 office@interstar.ro www.interstar.ro

ROMTELECOM Str. Gârlei nr. 1B Bucure[ti, cod 013721 relatiimedia@romtelecom.ro www.romtelecom.ro

1997 OTE International Investments Ltd. - Greece 10,344 (end of 54,01% 2008)

SYSWARE SYSTEMS INTEGRATION SRL Str. Mihail Sebastian nr. 72 Bucure[ti, cod 050784 office@sysware.ro www.sysware.ro

1999 35

Altec SA - Greece - 100%

553,450 34,364,004 50,364,465

125,955 307,793

computers, peripheral equipment & software wholesale trade

Ioannou Vasileios General Manger 021-410-1211 021-410-2036

UNISOFT ROMÅNIA SA Str. Mihail Sebastian nr. 72 Bucure[ti, cod 050784 office@unisoft.ro www.unisoft.ro

1996 15

Altec SA - Greece - 99.6% Ioannou Vasileios - Greece - 0.1% Kzpros Christofi - Czprus - 0.1% Nikitas Katsaras - Greece - 0.1% Evanggelos Poris - Greece - 0.1%

90,000 1,627,228 1,373,263

164,570 - 548,275

make soft on demand

Ioannou Vasileios Administrator 021-410-2047 021-410-2820

Companies are listed in alphabetical order. The information in the list was provided by companies. Only those companies answering our questionnaire were included. 2009 Business Review. The list may not be reprinted or reproduced in whole or in part without permission from the publishers. Corrections or additions to the list should be send to research@bmg.ro or by fax 021-335-3474. 14

BUSINESS REVIEW / May 11 - 17, 2009


Estates&Construction

MARKET

MAY 11 - 17, 2009 / VOLUME 14, NUMBER 17

BUSINESS REVIEW FORUM

Manage your business environment !

Immoeast buys out participation in local projects from partner Eyemaxx

COURTESY OF EYEMAXX

Immoeast bought Eyemaxx’ participation in two industrial projects in Timisoara and Ploiesti

Austrian investment fund Immoeast has went on buying yet another set of projects on the Romanian market, despite having given up on some of its planned local pipeline projects. Immoeast has bought its partner Eyemaxx’ participation in two logistics projects in Timisoara and Ploiesti and land plots in three other cities, Sibiu, Brasov and Targu Jiu. Both logistics projects have already been finalized. Eyemaxx has announced plans for a network of logistic centers under the Log Center brand in Sibiu and Brasov too. It had also announced plans to

build a shopping mall in Targu Jiu, the 23,300 sqm Jiu Mall, to be finalized in 2011, according to the company. Contacted by Business Review, Eyemaxx would not offer further details on its updated plans in Romania. Immoeast had previously sold its participation in seven projects locally to its partner S+B Gruppe, and bought European Future Group's shares in four other projects. Immoeast started to sell some of its assets across the region, and reported at the end of last year a portfolio of 80 projects in Romania worth

some EUR 1 billion, compared to 135 properties of EUR 3.4 billion in total mid last year. Regionally, Immoeast canceled 51 projects and delayed 29. The fund, listed on the Vienna and Warsaw stock exchanges, saw its share value drop by as much as 90 percent last year. The Austrian investment fund was one of the most active buyers on the Romanian market in 2006 and 2007. The fund owns properties such as Polus Center Cluj, SPark, Euromall Pitesti, Gold Plaza, Victoria Park and Armonia Arad, among others. Corina Saceanu


ESTATES & CONSTRUCTION MARKET

Cotroceni mall to open in September, ahead of schedule

LAFARGE AND HOLCIM CEMENT SIGNIFICANT PROFIT DAMAGE IN Q1 OF 2009… é Cement giants Lafarge and Holcim saw a tough year after the global construction slowdown eroded their profits in the first quarter, according to Reuters. Lafarge posted a 35 percent drop in its current operating profit, while Holcim saw its operating profit fall 54 percent. Lafarge posted a USD 22.77 million net loss, while Holcim's bottom line tumbled to USD 65.54 million.

Israeli firm AFI Europe's planned mall in Bucharest AFI Cotroceni Park will open its gates earlier than scheduled, as the developer has decided to speed up the works and launch the venue at the end of September this year. So far, the mall’s tenants occupy 85 percent of the total 76,000 sqm GLA, comprising brands such as Inditex, C&A, Mango, Bestseller Group, Deichmann, Marks & Spencer, Nordsee, Hondos, Nike, Converse, Miss Sixty, Calvin Klein, Champion, Benetton and SMYC within a shopping gallery of 300 shops. On top, the project delivers 2,500 parking spaces, a Real supermarket, 20-room 3D Imax cinema complex and a go-karting ring in the mall’s entertainment area.

REAL ROMANIA TO PUT EUR 60 MILLION INTO THREE NEW SUPERMARKETS é Retail chain Real Romania, part of Germany’s Metro Group, plans to assign some EUR 60 million to opening three new supermarkets during 2009, according to the company. Last year the network opened four new hypermarkets in five weeks towards the end of the year. Currently, the supermarket chain operates 21 stores in Romania. IMPACT TARGETS 11 PERCENT MARKET SHARE IN BUCHAREST é Romanian real estate developer Impact Developer & Contractor’s main objective in 2009 is increasing the company’s market share in Bucharest to 11 percent, according to the company. Currently, the company holds a market share of 9.5 percent in Bucharest. 16

The mall is 85 percent leased

Last year, developer AFI Europe announced it had obtained financing of EUR 234 million from Hypo Real Estate

Bank for the Cotroceni Park development, launched in 2007. The loan is granted for eight years and will cover 80 percent of the entire investment, which is estimated at almost EUR 300 million. The commercial center and one office building to be launched this year are part of the project’s first development stage, while the second stage will deliver four office buildings of 12,000 sqm in total and a five-star hotel. Besides this large project, AFI Europe has announced that it would start two retail projects located in Ploiesti and the Bucurestii Noi area of Bucharest, under the brand AFI Palace. The company is awaiting the construction permits. Magda Purice

Sonae Sierra still pursues three local projects, posts gains over last year Portuguese commercial center developer Sonae Sierra has announced that it is proceeding with the three projects the company previously announced it would deliver in Romania, Bucharestbased Parklake Plaza and two projects in Craiova and Ploiesti. According to a statement, “Sonae Sierra is continuous working on all projects by intensifying the technical and design optimization, the lease activities and bank financing research.” The firm has decided to write off the losses caused by various land price fluctuations between end-2007 and end2008 on its 2008 accounts, assuring a healthier start to the financial year 2009. Overall, the developer’s financial statement, published last month, reports that total direct profits in 2008 increased by 13 percent over 2007’s result. The developer made an overall profit of EUR 315.2 million in 2008, EUR 35.3 million higher than the EUR 279.9 million gains made in 2007. The results come from the

LAURENTIU OBAE

… WHILE WIENERBERGER POSTS OPERATIONAL LOSS OF EUR 29 MILLION GLOBALLY IN Q1 OF 2009 é Austrian brick producer Wienerberger has also been hit by the general economic downturn and posted EUR 29 million of operational losses in 2009’s first three months, with the lowest results being registered in Eastern Europe in countries like Romania, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. In Q1 of 2008, the producer posted profits of EUR 42.6 million. This year, the company’s EBITDA value dropped 82 percent to EUR 16.2 million. In February, the company lost 65 percent of the profit registered in 2008, to reach EUR 103.3 million

LAURENTIU OBAE

BRIEFS

The developer owns River Plaza mall in Ramnicu Valcea

growth of the firm’s portfolio through acquisitions made in 2007 – the Romanian-based project River Plaza, among others in Portugal and Germany – along with openings made in countries like Italy, Spain and Greece. The Portuguese group’s operational

profit was calculated at EUR 179.9 million in 2008, a rise of 16 percent over 2007, according to the company’s official financial data. The net profit resulting from direct operations reached EUR 67.8 million in 2008, while the value of operational net assets hit EUR 1.416 billion in 2008. Locally, Sonae Sierra acquired River Mall in Ramnicu Valcea and has managed Arena Plaza in Bacau since 2007. In 2008, Sonae Sierra and Warsawheadquartered retail developer Caelum Development joint-ventured for the EUR 591 million development of Parklake Plaza, scheduled to open in April 2011, according to a company statement last year. The Parklake Plaza project, including ParkLake Towers, is located in eastern Bucharest, and will be developed on an 8.2-hectare plot. The projects in Craiova and Ploiesti will be developed at an estimated cost of EUR 293 million, the company said last year. Magda Purice

UBM unrolls second phase of CLP logistic park in Bucharest UBM, the Austrian real estate developer, has finished the second phase of its center for logistics and light industry in Chitila. Located on the northwest Bucharest ring road, close to the DN1 and A1 (Pitesti) motorway, Chitila Logistics Park (CLP) is situated within the Bucharest zoning region for logistics, distribution and industrial companies. The EUR 35 million project totals 45,000 sqm of industrial and office space. CLP is a joint development with the Romanian real estate partner Metropola

Imobiliar. The first phase was launched last summer and comprises 16,000 sqm, which has been 100 percent let. So far, the retail park has leased space to tenants such as Schenker, RTC’s division Be Proffice and Montero. The second phase of the project was opened in April and comprises more than 22,000 sqm, out of which 75 percent is already rented, the company said. Spaces in this second stage are occupied by tenants such as Hiparion and Ringier Print. The final phase of the park will deliver approximately 7,000 sqm of warehouse

and office space, which could also be developed as built to suit, and will be completed in the second half of 2009. The Austrian developer focuses on countries in Central and Eastern Europe, where it invests and develops a wide range of schemes from industrial projects to four- and five-star business hotels. It has offices in 11 countries around Europe. In 2008, UBM registered a total annual development and construction output of more than EUR 300 million. Magda Purice BUSINESS REVIEW / May 11 - 17, 2009


ESTATES & CONSTRUCTION MARKET

Eagle Development secures EUR 21 million BCR Ocif Group tries to buck market with for EUR 170 million Jackob Park project sales scheme for Vivando Unirii project loan Israeli developer Eagle Develop- sold,” said Cohen. The prices of the Israeli real estate developer Ocif Group has developed a new scheme to atract potential buyers and increase awareness of the Vivando Unirii project, which it will launch at this year’s edition of the real estate trade fair at the Parliament Palace in Bucharest. The firm is one of the several residential developers that have started to step up and vary their sales promotions, since sales on the real estate market, and the residential segment in particular, ground to a halt, “Recently, we have witnessed increasing interest from potential buyers in under-construction residential projects. During the real estate national trade fair (TNL), we will make a promotional offer which grants a EUR 300 per month allowance to buyers of a residential unit in Vivando Unirii. The allowance will be granted for three years and will start once the apartment is delivered to the owner,” said Cristina Danila, marketing director

of Ocif Group. So far, according to the developer, Vivando Unirii has sold 30 percent of a total of 110 apartments, with the highest demand for apartments of two and three rooms priced at an average of EUR 2,100-2,200 per sqm, without VAT. Vivando Unirii comprises six blocks of 110 apartments built on an 8,000-sqm plot near Unirii Square, acquired in 2006. In February this year, Ocif Group assigned Libby Weizman as the company's new general manager. Last year, the developer announced EUR 200 million of investment in Romania until 2010, following a partnership with investment bank LCF Rothschild Group. The two companies have partnered so far for two residential projects in Bucharest: Vivando Unirii, which will require a EUR 20 million investment, and a second residential project, to be located on 90,000 sqm land in Pipera. Magda Purice

Be Igloo at the National Real Estate Exhibition (TNI)

18

first 10 apartments from the complex are estimated at EUR 1,200-1,300 per sqm, and the developer is planning price increases for the other units to be built. So far, Eagle Development has acquired five hectares of land in Bucharest, Ploiesti and Giurgiu, for which it paid EUR 50 million from the company’s funds. Besides the Bucharest residential project, Eagle will develop two commercial centers in Ploiesti and Giurgiu, under the brand of “7 Star Malls”. “We will build 35,000 sqm of rentable area in Ploiesti’s commercial project which will require EUR 55 million of investment. The mall will be completed at the end of 2010 or the beginning of 2011. So far we have rented 77 percent of the spaces. ILDC acquired in 2007 50 percent of the shares in a company set up in Romania. The acquired company is the owner of the real estate site in Ploiesti. Regarding the Giurgiu development, we are planning a rentable area of 22,000 sqm of commercial project, under a EUR 18 million investment,” said Cohen. Israel Land Development, which operates on the media and real estate segments, has been listed on the Tel Aviv stock exchange since 1953. It has operations in Israel, Poland, Canada, the Republic of Moldova, Kazakhstan and Georgia, comprising a portfolio of logistic projects, hotels, malls and 2,000 under-construction residential units. Magda Purice

Cyprus-based company proposes 58-level tower in Bucharest’s Romana Square

ADVERTORIAL

At the real estate exhibition TNI, from Palatul Parlamentului, the new organization Be Igloo came with 800 apartments in seven residential projects from Bucharest and with the smallest prices possible: euro 98 000 for 2 rooms apartment and 64 000 for one room; in the same residential projects, it seems like if you are buy-

ing directly from the developer the price is bigger. They are confident in the Romanian market and still knowing very well the market’s conditions and that is why, in the last two months, they sold exactly how they planned: 4 apartments/month. „If we are giving the appropriate solutions for the people, they are buying. If we are going to supervise the work at their homes, to offer them financing possibilities according to their needs, they will buy. That is why we are trying to sell only finalized apartments, so that the trust of the end user to be complete.” explained Nimrod Zvik, the marketing director of Be Igloo. Be Igloo is the sales organization for the Norwegian investment fund Romania Invest.

ment, a subsidiary of the Israeli Land Development Company (ILDC), said it had contracted a EUR 21 million loan from the Romanian Commercial Bank (BCR) to be used for financing the first development stage of the residential project Jackob Park. The project is located on 5.4 hectares in the Pantelimon area of Bucharest. The company acquired the land two and a half years ago. “The bank loan has been taken out in order to finance the first development stage of the project, while the land and the pre-development works were carried out using our own funds. The first sum from the bank loan will be cashed after three months, when the foundation works are completed,” said Eli Cohen, vicepresident of ILDC. This is the company’s first project to be developed on the Romanian market. The complex’s first stage will deliver 250 residential units, following an investment of EUR 30 million. Overall, the project will comprise around 1,500 apartments located in 12 buildings, according to the developer. It delivers a built area of 160,000 sqm and will require a total investment of EUR 170 million. According to Cohen, the project will be developed in several stages over a six- to eight-year period. “The apartments will be finished according to the market evolution. The first development stage will be completed within two years, and we will start building the second stage when 50 percent of the first stage’s units are

A Cyprus-registered company has submitted to the Bucharest mayoralty’s town planning commission a proposal for the development of a 200-meter high, 58-level tower to be erected in Romana Square. If approved, the tower will be built on 5,000 sqm, on a plot owned by Rubin Gold company. The developer has proposed for discussion three alternative projects for a development on this land, comprising either the tower, a 55-level building designed by the Israeli architecture company Bergman, Walls & Associates, or a

90-level building designed by the Romanian architect Dorin Stefan. The tower project would host a five-star hotel, luxury apartments, casino and commercial spaces. However, the Bucharest town planning commission has some reservations regarding the project due to its potential location within an area that is home to patrimonial houses and monuments. So far, the commission members seem to be siding with the Romanian architect’s design application for the 90-level tower, but no decision has yet been made. Magda Purice BUSINESS REVIEW / May 11 - 17, 2009


ESTATES & CONSTRUCTION MARKET

Praktiker consolidates Romanian DIY chain with new unit in Foscani

German DIY operator Praktiker has increased its Romanian presence with a new store in Focsani, following an investment of EUR 11.1 million, the company has announced. As a result, the retailer now operates a chain of 26 outlets in 22 cities in Romania, serving towns with populations of over 100,000. With a unit opened in every such city, Praktiker has consolidated its metropolitan DIY web with three stores in Bucharest and two in Timisoara and Iasi. The new Foscani store delivers

BUSINESS REVIEW / May 11 - 17, 2009

MEDIAFAX

LAURENTIU OBAE

The retailer runs 26 units in Romania

4,300 sqm and a parking area with 250 spaces. It has a staff of 100. “The unit in Foscani is the sixth one we have opened in the Moldavian region of Romania,” said Michael Krahn, general manager of Praktiker Romania. Following this investment, the German group has now put EUR 257 million of investment into Romania and delivers through its countrywide retail spaces a total of 170,000 sqm of sales area, employing 3,000 people. Praktiker Romania registered sales of EUR 88.52 million in Q3 of 2008, representing a growth of 20.6 percent compared with the same period of 2007, according to the company. At nine months, the group posted net sales of EUR 217 million and expanded with three units in Deva, Pitesti and Iasi. In Europe, it owns over 400 units in nine countries including Germany, Bulgaria, Poland, Hungary, Turkey, Luxembourg, Ukraine and Romania, and employs over 23,000 people, half of whom work in Praktiker’s units opened outside Germany. Magda Purice

Gap opens gates to Baneasa Shopping City store, plans second Romanian opening in 2009

Gap is run in Romania by Marinopoulous group, the franchise owner for the SEE

American fashion retailer Gap has opened its store in Baneasa Shopping City in Bucharest, through the Greek Marinopoulos Group, the franchise owner for the South-Eastern Europe region. The shop in Baneasa mall delivers 720 sqm. “Because we have complete confidence in the Romanian market, we are planning a second Gap opening in Romania for 2009,” said Stelios Skordalakis, marketing manager of Marinopoulos Romania. Besides Gap, the Marinopoulos Group also operates the Romanian fran-

chises of Beauty Shop / Sephora, Starbucks and Marks & Spencer. The group has signed a franchise agreement with Gap Inc for introducing the brand in Greece, Bulgaria, Cyprus and Croatia too. Gap Inc. is an international clothing retailer running stores under the Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy and Piperlime brands. The company operates directly 3,100 stores in the US, UK, Canada, France, Japan and Ireland, and under franchise agreements in Asia, the Middle East and Europe. Magda Purice

19


ANALYSIS

LAURENTIU OBAE

The new policies coming into play on the outdoor market will generate further discussions

New rules and low budgets pose challenges for outdoor industry This year, outdoor companies have had to deal with clients reining in their advertising budgets, although customers are as keen as they were last year. That means tougher negotiations between parties this year. New rules by City Hall limiting mesh advertising on historical buildings will also affect market strategies. Magda Purice

Recently, ad company managers say, firms have been frequently revising their budgets for outdoor-type advertising. Raluca Pop, sales manager of Clear Channel Romania, said that budgets have been considerably cut in 2009, even though interest in this kind of advertising has remained stable. “While in recent years, real estate and financial companies have represented an important percentage of the 20

WHAT

WRITING IS ON THE WALL THIS YEAR?

The Clear Channel Romania representative finds it hard to make a prognosis on operations in 2009, due to the general economic situation and the ongoing discussions on outdoor market stipulations. The effect of the new rules, which restrict the display of advertising panels in some areas of Bucharest, including the city’s historical center, is currently difficult to gage. “We are ready to sacrifice our profit margins in 2009 in order to get an outdoor regulatory structure. As far as we are concerned, even if the company’s turnover is limited for a short time, the added value provided by this policy will start to pay off on the medium and long term,” Pop told Business Review. The recently approved set of laws regarding the location and operation of outdoor displays, set out in a document released by Bucharest City Hall officials, reveals some interdictions. For example, advertising prints, meshes, screens and so on may no longer be displayed on buildings hosting public authorities and social institutions, public gardens, trees, monuments and patrimonial buildings, as well as in the areas of Universitatii, Romana, Magheru, Charles de Gaulle, Aviatorilor, Victoriei and some other places, most of them central locations. Regarding sales for this year, Vision Media Plus’s management reports steady assigned budgets for this type of advertising from customers

operating on the FMCG, telecommunications and services industries. “In the first four months of 2009, we noticed that some of these companies slashed budgets by as much as 35 percent, but the companies ruled by tough management fought to maintain the previous budgets to develop their strategy of reaching potential customers,” Mujdei told BR. The manager considers outdoor to be a media channel which justifies its cost in the advertising strategy for reaching the target. Vision Media Plus operates 20 locations countrywide, with eight in Bucharest and one each in large Romanian cities such as Brasov, Cluj, Constanta, Timisoara, Iasi, Craiova, Sibiu, Pitesti, Ploiesti and Galati. This year, the outdoor operator forecasts a similar turnover to 2008 and is even hoping for a market share increase despite the current economic background. Regarding costs as compared with the other advertising channels, outdoor is ranked third after TV and print media, which are far more expensive, Raluca Pop told BR. However, prices differ depending on several factors, such as dimension, location and support, and are in direct proportion with the estimated generated effect. “Concerning the efficiency calculated in terms of cost-quality, the ranking changes drastically. TV is the cheapest, followed by outdoor,” Pop added. According to a recent study by AT Kearney, the Romanian media market had an annual growth rate of 27 percent between 2003 and 2008, but the figure is expected to slow to an annual growth of 5-8 percent until 2013 in line with developed markets.

Advertising Channels Lowdown é Internet/online advertising was

the most attractive segment of the media market for investors with an increase of 50 percent by comparison with 2006 é With almost 66 percent of the market in 2008 due to good national coverage and affordability, TV remains the most popular advertising medium and is expected to grow to 67 percent in 2009 é Though in 2008 print press had half the market share it had in 2003, it had an annual growth rate of 12 percent and will grow even more due to the elections é The radio market increased by 26 percent in 2008, even though the annual number of listeners is decreasing

SOURCE: A.T KEARNEY RESEARCH, MEDIA FACT BOOK 2008

OUTDOOR CHANNEL DEALS WITH COST-CONSCIOUS BUT STILL INTERESTED CLIENTS

overall amounts, these companies have now cut their outdoor budgets. But outdoor continues to make up the same 9 percent portion in the overall advertising mix budget of a company,” Pop explains. Outdoor has kept its slice of the budgeted advertising and marketing mix due to its advantages, say players, which Pop cites as proximity and the public’s geographical segmentation. “For example, an outdoor tool can be placed in the vicinity of sales points and, as a result, represents the final incentive before the acquisition decision,” said Pop. Part of the worldwide outdoor group Clear Channel Outdoor, Clear

Channel Romania has a consolidated market presence in 30 Romanian cities, and operates over 700 outdoor locations countrywide. The group has over 1 million panels in more than 50 countries worldwide, with a presence in 49 industry segments of a total of 50. In the United States, the group is represented by its Spectacular division, while the group’s international division is DEFI. Last year, the company improved on the previous year’s turnover by 50 percent to reach EUR 9.2 million, which ranked its Romanian outdoor operations in third place after Turkey and China within the group’s overall results, Pop told Business Review. Adriana Mujdei, sales director of Vision Media Plus, another player on the Romanian outdoor market, says the company holds a market share of 45 percent on the OOH TV screen segment in Romania. Vision Media Plus operates outdoor web displaying street TV screens of 20 sqm, which is the most suitable area for LED-light screens.

BUSINESS REVIEW / May 11 - 17, 2009


EVENTS

Romanian Boat Show opens new edition

STOCKEXCHANGE

The European Film Fest started last week under the slogan “Movies of all kinds”. Overall, the festival will run until May 31 in four cities: Bucharest, Brasov, Timisoara and Iasi. In Bucharest, the event will continue until May 17. The festival opened with “Gomorra” by Italian director Matteo Garrone, and will close with the Turkish movie “Three Monkeys” by Nuri Bilge Ceylan. It will also include some Romanian productions such as “Gruber’s Journey” by Radu Gabrea, which will be shown at Studio cinema on May 14 in the presence of the director and his crew. The successful experimental production “Elevator” by director George Dorobantu will also be screened during the event. LAURENTIU OBAE

Organizers expects EUR 13 mln in sales

The fourth edition of the Romanian Boat Show took place between May 6 and 10 in the Baneasa commercial area. Organizers expected to sell boats totalling a value of EUR 13 million, which is approximately 13-15 percent lower than the total value of the boats displayed in 2008. Last year, boats worth EUR 15 million were sold during the show. The event was organized with a budget of EUR 350,000. Otilia Haraga

Pictures taken by surrealist painter Rene Magritte are displayed in an exhibition opened at the National Museum of Art with the help of the Valonia- Brussels Delegation in Bucharest. The exhibition is entitled “The Fidelity of Images. Rene Magritte and Photography,” an innuendo to a painting that Magritte did in 1929 entitled “The Treason of Images.” The photo exhibit contains 59 pictures taken by the artist of his family and friends among whom writers like Louis Scutenaire, Paul Nougé, Marcel Mariën, Paul Colinet, Irène Hamoir and his wife Georgette Magritte and brother Paul. BUSINESS REVIEW / May 11 - 17, 2009

21


EVENTS

LAURENTIU OBAE

Poet and singer LEONARD COHEN will return to Romania for another concert on September 4 in Constitutiei Square in Bucharest. The huge demand for the prolific artist’s previous concert last year prompted organizing company Events to bring the singer back for yet another performance in Bucharest. Cohen, well known for classics such as “Dance Me to the End of Love,” “In My Secret Life,” “Tower of Song,” “Suzanne” and “Waiting for the Miracle” is also an acclaimed novelist and poet. Tickets for the concert cost RON 124, RON 248 or RON 399, depending on their position in relation to the stage. Tickets are on sale on the sites www. ticketpoint.ro, www.eventim.ro, www.bilete.ro, www.blt.ro as well as from the Palace Hall box office, the Diverta chain store and Eventim sale points.

Stradivarius tour raises funds for the blind

LAURENTIU OBAE

STOCKEXCHANGE

Romanian photographer Cosmin Bumbut will open an exhibition on Cuba on May 14 entitled “Cuba Goes On”, hosted by the Karousel gallery (Dorobanti Square). The exhibition will run until May 28. The pictures by Bumbut, one of the most celebrated contemporary local photographers, are an attempt to go beyond labels and appearances and see how people in that country live their lives, in other words a story of Cuba “as it has never been told.” The pictures will also be displayed in Cluj-Napoca at the National Art Museum between May 29 and June 7 as part of the Transylvania International Film Festival. Afterwards, the exhibition will return to Karousel in Bucharest where it can be again visited until the end of June.

LAURENTIU OBAE

The InterContinental Hotel in Bucharest treated its guests to a surprise last week as receptionists and waiters could be seen working in pajamas and slippers, encouraging guests to jump and pillow-fight on a giant bed located in the hotel lobby. The scene was part of a wide-reaching initiative that marked the launch of a special offer from InterContinental Hotels Group. In total, 20,000 people were expected to jump on giant beds located in large capitals throughout the world. Participants included Olympic champions who jumped on the beds at the same time all over the world.

The tour includes 15 Romanian cities

The Stradivarius tour of young

violinist Alexandru Tomescu and pianist Horia Mihail will this year raise funds for the Association of Blind People in Romania. The tour which offers the public the opportunity to hear live the unique sound of the Stradivarius violin played by Tomescu is underway. It includes 15 cities in Romania and will last until May 16. The organizer of this event is Accendo Cultural Association, founded by the two soloists who hope they will be able to raise EUR 500,000 by the end of the event. Several companies from the private sector have also joined this initiative. Otilia Haraga

Bucharest marks Europe Day with special ceremonies

Electro-goth pioneers DEPECHE MODE’s concert in Bucharest is just a week away. The event will take place in Izvor Park on May 16. Tickets for the concert have sold out, except for those in the VIP area and C area, which is farthest from the stage. Anyone who still wants to see the British band can purchase tickets from www.myticket.ro or in any of the stores in the Diverta network. The price of a VIP ticket is RON 360 while a ticket in C area costs RON 100. The British trio – David Gahan, Martin Lee Gore and Andrew Fletcher – have just released a new album entitled “Sounds of the Universe” which they are promoting with the “Tour of the Universe” that brings them to Romania. The band has its roots in the 80s new wave period, but the Depeche Mode style has evolved from light synth-pop to dark electro beats, and the band has acquired a faithful following during their nearly 30 years of making music. 22

The Arch of Triumph is opened for public

Bucharest celebrated Europe Day this year through shows, exhibitions and military ceremonies

around the Arch of Triumph in Bucharest between May 8 and 10. Europe Day is celebrated every year on May 9th to mark the anniversary of the day in 1950 when the European Union was founded. The Arch of Triumph was opened by the authorities for public visitation. Inside, Bucharesters could view four exhibitions about important moments in European and Romanian history. Outside there were special military ceremonies. On May 9, the exhibition “Europe in the Cartography Mirror,” a journey into the old cartography of the XV- XVIII centuries was opened at the National Cotroceni Museum. Otilia Haraga BUSINESS REVIEW / May 11 - 17, 2009


Business Review, Issue 7, May 11-17  

Business Review, Issue 7, May 11-17

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