Page 1

A GROUP OF MPS IS TRYING TO GET THE SIF THRESHOLD THROWN OUT; SEE PAGE 4 FEATURE

Initially founded to educate expats’ children, international schools in Romania are now making money from local enrollments too See page 8

US INVESTMENTS REVIEW

The local market hasn’t welcomed any new American firm lately, but existing ones continue their expansion, increasing FDI See pages 9-11

FURNITURE MARKET REVIEW

The local furniture market is expected to contract by one third of last year’s volume, falling to a level last seen in 2005 See pages 12-15

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BUSINESS REVIEW ROMANIA’S PREMIERE BUSINESS WEEKLY

JUNE 29 - JULY 5, 2009 / VOLUME 14, NUMBER 24

STEMMING THE CRISIS

Against a tough background, some firms are making money from the collection and storage of stem cells, a procedure still in its infancy in Romania, but the field is likely to expand with a third stem cell bank on its way and more players interested Register at:

See pages 20-21


BUSINESS REVIEW ROMANIA’S PREMIERE BUSINESS WEEKLY

JUNE 29 - JULY 5, 2009 / VOLUME 14, NUMBER 24

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NEWS

BRIEFS IMMORENT ROMANIA TO BUILD RESIDENTIAL COMPLEX IN BUCHAREST IN 2010 é Erste Grup’s real estate leasing division Immorent Romania plans to build a residential complex in north Bucharest from 2010. Sited on 4.4 hectares of land, it is estimated to cost EUR 300 million, according to the company. The project will include 150,000 sqm of office and residential space. In 2008, Immorent made a turnover of EUR 50 million. It holds a portfolio of 218 contracts with a value exceeding EUR 78 million. Last year, real estate leasing contracts reached EUR 29.3 million, down about 20 percent from the value registered in 2007. PORSCHE LEASING ROMANIA DOUBLES MARKET SHARE TO 18 PERCENT é Porsche Leasing Romania has announced it reached an 18 percent market share, double the 2008 value, and contracted new leasing contracts worth EUR 40.5 million in Q1 of 2009. The firm is part of Porsche Finance Group, a financial solutions provider for car importer Porsche Romania, which has a dealership network of 89 dealers countrywide. Porsche Finance Group, established in Romania in 1999, comprises five companies. E.ON TO CUT PLANNED INVESTMENTS IN ROMANIA BY 26 PERCENT é E.ON Romania will allot this year a total of RON 245 million to investments and cut by 26 percent the investments volume of RON 331 million announced at the beginning of the year for its electricity and gas networks, due to the economic crisis, company data shows. E.ON Moldova Distributie, partly owned by E.ON Gaz Romania Holding, announced it was planning to inject about RON 440 million into revamping its infrastructure by 2012, after the last four years saw investments of RON 560 million. The plan for this year was to replace about 40 percent of the company's pipeline web, which is added to the 850 km of pipeline that was repaired during the last four years and to the 1,450 km that was replaced. 4

MPs make new attempt to throw out SIF ownership threshold Owners of SIF shares may be able to exceed the 1 percent stake threshold if the current legislation which sets the maximum 1 percent stake is changed by Parliament in fall. A group of MPs has proposed the cancellation of the ownership threshold for SIFs, which would allow shareholders to change SIFs' administration councils, among other moves, according to the initiators of the proposal. “What is most important is that investors in SIF shares enjoy all their rights as shareholders. These companies have a closed circle of leaders, administrators who haven't been changed in the last 15 years, but who don't act on behalf of the shareholders,” said senator Ovidiu Marian, member of the Democrat Liberal Party (PD-L) and the initiator of the project. This is not the first attempt to alter the ownership threshold. In 2006, former finance minister Ionut Popescu tried to increase it to 5 percent, but the proposal failed to garner political support. Following the announcement, SIF shares increased in price on the Bucharest Stock Exchange, and if

Th SIF ownership threshold issue has brought strong words from both sides of the divide

the proposal comes into force as law, the value of shares may further increase, attracting the interest of large foreign investors too. “Ovidiu Marian's support for canceling the ownership threshold is not surprising and it is not new. This attempt can be understood as a bid to cancel the 1 percent threshold by several individuals who have worked together, although they had

been warned to start acting legally. This is a complex issue, with major implications, and it should be treated with prudence,” said Ioan Cuzman, general manager of SIF BanatCrisan, in response to the new proposal. “SIFs are funds of collective placement and they should be protected against those who would like to perform hostile takeovers and change their structure. We will continue to defend the interests of millions of small shareholders against the efforts of several business people who would like to promote their agenda and their own financial interest in SIF 1 Banat-Crisana,” Cuzman went on. Several shareholders in SIF Banat-Crisana tried to take over the helm of the investment fund during the General Shareholders' Meeting in April this year, which led to several law suits. The five investment funds – called SIFs (Societate de Investitii Financiare) – own assets worth around EUR 1.4 billion. Their shares are listed on the Bucharest Stock Exchange, with their daily price evolution being monitored through the BET – FI index. Corina Saceanu

Coca-Cola HBC puts EUR 16 mln into thermo power plant in Ploiesti Coca-Cola HBC and ContourGlobal plan to launch a EUR 16 million thermo power plant in Ploiesti, at a location near the existing Coca Cola plant. Coca-Cola HBC Romania has rented more than 2,100 sqm of the plot where the company has developed the plant with ContourGlobal, with Coca-Cola HBC Romania being the main beneficiary of the power resources generated by the thermo station. The site will become operational at the end of July. The station is part of a wider project developed by Coca-Cola Hellenic, comprising a further development of 14 such projects on its operational markets. The plant in Romania is meant to decrease carbon dioxide emissions by 40 percent, according to the company’s representatives. A second similar project has been announced for development in

Coca-Cola HBC has recently moved to new HQ

Timisoara, with the operational starting point set for 2010. In February, Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company (HBC) Romania, the local arm of the soft drinks maker, an-

nounced it would dismiss 44 employees this year while another 56 would be re-deployed within specialized companies of the group. Coca-Cola plans to offer its dismissed employees from seven to ten months’ salary in accordance with the labor contract. In April, the company relocated its HQ to the Pipera area, within the A-class green-office type building Global City. According to Mugurel Radulescu, communication representative of the company, “The relocation generates a better cash-flow” for Coca-Cola Romania. Global City is a project run by the Greek investment fund Global Finance through its real estate arm Global Emerging Property Fund. The office part of the project delivers 80,000 sqm within six office buildings. Magda Purice BUSINESS REVIEW / June 29 - July 5, 2009


NEWS

Banks file offers for state-backed housing loans BRIEFS

The First House program is intended to help first-time buyers get on the housing ladder

The Romanian government's First House program, set up to offer guarantees for home loans, has generated interest from 19 banks active locally which had applied for the program last week, according to data from the Government. The total value of funds given over by these banks to the program reaches EUR 814 million. Banca Transilvania, Leumi Bank, BRD, ATE, Raiffeisen, Millennium, Volksbank, BCR, CEC Bank and Pireus Bank are among the banks to have filed offers. Previously, the minister of public finance Gheorghe Pogea said 18 banks had filled offers for loans totalling EUR 1.4 billion under the program. Raiffeisen has set a threshold of EUR 50 million for loans granted

under the First House program, according to the bank. Millennium Bank has allotted EUR 30 million to such loans, and Bank Leumi EUR 10 million. The latter has said it would offer the loans with an interest equal to ROBOR for three months plus 2.45 percentage points for loans in RON and Euribor for three months plus 3.95 percentage points. The lowest interest announced so far was from CEC Bank, which will offer mortgages in local currency at ROBOR plus 1.9 percentage points, according to Aurel Saramet, the president of the National Loan Guaranteeing Fund for Small and Medium Enterprises. CEC Bank has allotted EUR 95 million to the state guaranteed lending program. BCR, the largest bank in Roma-

nia, expects to grant home loans only in euro of up to EUR 450 million, at an interest rate of Euribor plus 3.8 percentage points, according to the bank's representatives quoted by Mediafax. Piraeus Bank's threshold for this lending program will be EUR 100 million, and Bancpost’s EUR 50 million. Individuals who take out mortgages under the First House program will make a 5 percent down payment for a house of up to EUR 60,000 or EUR 3,000 plus the difference from the acquisition price. The interest rate set by the state is a maximum of three months Euribor plus 4 percent a year for loans in euro, while for loans in local currency, the maximum interest will be Robor plus 2.5 percentage points. The maximum set interest also includes the bank's total fees. The state will guarantee the EUR 60,000 for each loan, which can be used either to buy a completed house or to build a new one, as long as it is the buyer’s first owned house. The Euribor (Euro Interbank Offered Rate), which is the rate at which euro interbank term deposits within the eurozone are offered by one prime bank to another, dropped to 1.2 percent last week for the three month deposits. The ROBOR, which is the average rate for loans in RON used on the Romanian market, was around 10.3 percent last week. Corina Saceanu

OTP Asset Management launches public offer for S&P500-linked fund OTP Asset Management has launched a closed investment fund, OTP WiseRo, which will be listed on the Bucharest Stock Exchange at the end of August, the firm has announced. The fund invests in an index swap derivative, which is based on an index developed by Societe Generale Corporate & Investment Banking and calculated daily by Standard & Poor's, which follows the monthly evolution of shares that make the S&P500 index. The fund's assets will be placed BUSINESS REVIEW / June 29 - July 5, 2009

in deposits with five banks in Romania or elsewhere in the European Union. This is the first fund with guaranteed capital, the firm has said. It has a three-year maturity and both individuals and corporations can buy units in the fund for a month starting June 29, with a minimum investment value of RON 200. Units fund can be bought through Intercapital Invest brokerage company or through OTP Bank's branches. There are 30,000 such

units in the offer, and in order to be successfully closed, 20,000 need to be subscribed. The product can also be purchased as a savings package, through OTP Bank Romania, which allows customers to open a deposit account, in RON or EUR, for a maximum amount equal to the sum invested, for a three month-period. Clients receive interest of up to 15 percent for RON deposits and up to 6.2 percent for EUR deposits. Corina Saceanu

SIF MOLDOVA NETS EUR 12.71 MILLION FOR BANCPOST STAKE é Financial investment company SIF Moldova (SIF2) has sold its 3.48 percent stake in Bancpost to major shareholder EFG in a transaction worth EUR 12.71 million. Greek group EFG now controls more than 98 percent of Bancpost. Recently, two other SIFs, Transilvania (SIF3) and Banat-Crisana (SIF1) sold their 3.49 percent stakes in Bancpost for a similar sum: EUR 12.75 million. In turn, SIF Oltenia (SIF5) previously sold its participation for EUR 12.15 million. EFG Eurobank, which controls Bancpost, recorded a net loss of EUR 4.1 million in Romania in the first quarter of 2009. SAV INTEGRATED SYSTEMS TIPS TURNOVER TO DROP BY 12.5 PERCENT IN 2009 é IT security systems provider SAV Integrated Systems has revised its turnover prediction for 2009, estimating a decrease of 12.5 percent for this year compared with 2008, according to the firm. Initially, representatives foresaw a turnover of EUR 4 million, a boost of 60 percent on the previous year. Due to poor results in the first quarter of 2009, the results for 2009 reflect a turnover of EUR 3.5 million to EUR 3.8 million. The company’s profit in 2008 was estimated at EUR 50,000, and is expected to increase this year. SAV Integrated Systems provides security solutions on behalf of Siemens, Bosch, Pentax, Roel Electronics, Panasonic, Nec and Polycom. KOOR INDUSTRIES INCREASES STAKE IN CARREFOUR BY INVESTING USD 886 MILLION é Israeli holding Koor Industries will invest USD 886 million in French retailer Carrefour, according to the international media. So far, Koor holds 1.76 million shares in Carrefour, 0.25 percent of the second largest retailer worldwide. The Israeli group will make the investment following an extension of credit of EUR 300 million, secured from a pre-agreement with HSBC bank. French retailer Carrefour posted a decrease of 44.7 percent net profit in 2008 for its group retail network, and a net profit of EUR 1.27 billion last year, due to the downturn in sales and price cuts. 5


NEWS

BRIEFS LOCAL LEASING COMPANIES HOLD OVER 10,000 CARS FROM DEBTORS é Romanian leasing companies have in stock over 10,000 cars seized from buyers who could no longer keep up their installments. The vehicles will be sold through dealers, public auctions or at auto parks, said Razvan Diaconescu, Impuls Leasing GM. The average price of a car has fallen by 35 percent since last year. The price plunge was caused by the massive stocks with which car producers and importers began the year, explains Diaconescu. To get rid of the vehicles, some leasing companies are even offering packages of 50-60 units at low prices. CHINESE COMPANY PLANS TO INVEST EUR 28 MILLION IN BRICK PLANTS AT MOTRU é Representatives of a Chinese company are in negotiations with the local administration of Gorj county over an investment of EUR 28 million in order to build two brick production facilities in Motru. The plants would create 250 workplaces. According to the local info, the Chinese company has been interested in the land of the former coal mine Rosiuta for the past two years. MITRE BUILDING WINS INTERIOR DESIGN WORKS FOR COCOR BUCURESTI é Local company Mitre Building Construction has won the interior design works contract for Cocor Bucuresti (COCR) commercial center, a contract worth EUR 4.45 million, 25 percent under the budgeted amount. The company participated in the Dutch auction along with 59 other companies, with six short-listed participants.

Business Review previously announced the appointment of Bogdan Bibicu as partner and head of the banking and finance practice with Kinstellar. However, Bibicu will join Kinstellar on completion of the formalities of his departure from his current firm, Bulboaca & Asociatii. 6

Petrom starts oil exploration in Kazakhstan Oil and gas producer Petrom has started oil production at the Komsomolskoe field in the Mangistau region of western Kazakhstan. According to company data, the initial production is about 1,000 bbl per day and is expected to reach a plateau rate of 10,000 bbl per day by next year. The proven and probable reserves are estimated at 34 million bbl. “We are very pleased to have achieved this milestone of the first oil production from the Komsomolskoe field. Developing a mid-sized oil field in around one and a half years is a big achievement and will contribute to our strategic objective of raising international production in the Caspian Region to about 20,000 boe per day,” said Johann Pleininger, Petrom’s executive board member responsible for E&P. Petrom entered the development phase at the Komsomolskoe oil field after obtaining the necessary permits from the Kazakhstan authorities in November 2007. The development plan comprised the drilling of six horizontal production

Petrom first entered the Kazakh market in 1998

wells and additional new vertical wells for gas and water injection. It also included the construction of a gathering system, central processing facilities, a tie-in pipeline and transfer station to the pipeline grid of KazTransOil, as well as infrastructure and auxiliary facilities. Company information reveals that investments of about EUR 180 million supported the project.

Petrom entered Kazakhstan in 1998 and holds exploration and production licenses for six fields: Tasbulat, Aktas, Turkmenoi, Komsomolskoe, Zhilankyr and South Rovnaya. The firm’s activities in Kazakhstan are run through Tasbulat Oil Corporation LLP (100 percent owned by Petrom) and Kom Munai LLP (95 percent owned by Petrom). Last year, Petrom’s daily production of oil and gas in Kazakhstan reached approximately 5,700 boe/day, up by 24 percent compared to 2007. Petrom exploits estimated proven oil and gas reserves of 0.9 billion boe, has an annual refining capacity of 8 million tons and holds around 550 filling stations in Romania. The company also has an international network of 257 filling stations located in Moldova, Bulgaria and Serbia. Last year, its turnover was EUR 4,552 million, and its EBITDA was EUR 969 million. OMV, the Austrian energy group in the European growth belt, holds a 51.01 percent share in Petrom. Dana Ciuraru

E.ON Gaz Distributie sues ANRE over price cut E.ON Gaz Distributie has decided to take legal action against the Romanian Energy Regulatory Authority (ANRE) following its decision to reduce the natural gas distribution tariff from May 1, this year. According to E.ON Gaz Distributie, the ANRE measure seriously affects the financial status of the company, jeopardizing jobs and investment programs. “Following the decision to reduce the distribution tariff as of May 1,

E.ON Gaz Distributie has incurred unjustified costs amounting to RON 172 million (EUR 40.7 million), and, as a result of this situation, the amount is constantly increasing. For this purpose, the company sent a preliminary claim to the ANRE asking for the economic and legal assumptions that the decision was based on. Unfortunately, until now, the ANRE has not sent any satisfactory reply to the claim submitted by our company,” said

Virgil Metea, E.ON Gaz Distributie GM. Company information indicates that the firm will reconsider its investment budget planned for this year and accelerate the company optimization process. E.ON Gaz Distributie says it believes that the action of the ANRE in reducing the distribution tariff is unjustified and has decided to challenge it the relevant courts. Dana Ciuraru

KazMunayGas acquires remaining Rompetrol stake KazMunayGas (KMG) has acquired a further 25 percent equity interest in the Rompetrol Group from Romanian businessman Dinu Patriciu. With this transaction, KMG becomes the 100 percent shareholder of Rompetrol. The transaction was based on the terms of the initial agreement signed in August 2007, under which KMG acquired a 75 percent stake in the firm from Rompetrol Holding. “KazMunayGas remain the largest foreign investor in Romania and will continue to implement investment projects of the program for reconstruction of Petromidia refinery, use of the marine terminal at the port of Midia and expand

the retail network of Rompetrol petrol stations in Romania and beyond,” said Kayrgeldy Kabyldin, KMG president. “The decision to sell my participation in Rompetrol Group (TRG) is part of a broader business strategy. I intend to focus on three main areas, European real estate, media and several projects in the energy sector. The current economic environment offers exceptional opportunities for investors with liquidities and I am actively involved in developing new projects which require time and attention,” said Patriciu in a statement to the Bucharest Stock Exchange. He went on: “Ever since I took over Rompetrol in 1998 to the present I have changed a company which the World

Bank has labeled as a destroyed asset into a modern European oil company, which runs activities in 13 countries.” Patriciu has recently invested and planned offers for two Western European real estate investment funds, after having acquired British fund Fabian, with assets in Romania. He plans to restructure the portfolios of the two funds, Deutsche Land and Rutley Europea Property, in order to benefit from the cash from their income producing assets. Patriciu is also the owner of Adevarul Holding, a media group which publishes Adevarul newspaper, the local edition of Forbes magazine and Foreign Policy magazine, among others. ■ BUSINESS REVIEW / June 29 - July 5, 2009


CALENDAR / WHO’S NEWS

EVENTS, BUSINESS AND POLITICAL AGENDA JUNE 29 é 11.00 – Roche launches education and information campaign “Cancer

Is Not A Death Sentence” at the Radisson SAS Hotel.

JUNE 30 é 11.00 – Microsoft Romania and Depozitul de Calculatoare organize De-

mo Day for a demonstration of the future operating system Windows 7. Event takes place at Unirea Shopping Store, third floor. é 11.00 – Marine Resources Exploration International (Marexin) organize

first press conference in Romania, in the presence of Peter Hamilton, CEO of Marexin. Event takes place at Hotel Radisson SAS, Alcyone room. é 18.00 – Sony organizes summer event at the Bonton club in Herastrau

Park. é 19.00 – British Romanian Chamber of Commerce organizes second edi-

tion of the event British Days, which will take place on JW Marriott Hotel, Constanta room.

JULY 16 é 9.00 – Business Review organizes French Business Forum at the Inter-

continental Hotel Bucharest. For more details please visit www.brforum.ro.

JW Marriott welcomes Igael Porecki to the helm, former GM builds consultancy locally

Kurt Strohmayer is stepping down from the hotel to set up his own consultancy firm

The five-star hotel JW Marriott in Bucharest has chosen Israeli Igael Porecki as its new general manager, starting from the beginning of July, after Austrian Kurt Strohmayer decided to leave his position at the hotel. Strohmayer, who had been at the helm of the hotel since 2003, will however stay in Romania and create his own hotel consultancy firm. The new GM, who will be welcomed at BUSINESS REVIEW / June 29 - July 5, 2009

a ceremony on July 1, comes from Georgia, where he had been general manager of the Marriott and Courtyard hotels in Tbilisi since 2002. He holds a degree in hotel management and is fluent in English, German and also Romanian. Porecki joins a group of expat five-star hotel managers in Bucharest, which includes Pierre Boisel, the GM of Crowne Plaza, Ali Yilmaz Yildirimlar of Radisson SAS, Marten Schoenrock of Intercontinental and Friedrich Niemann at the helm of the Hilton. JW Marriott, which has 402 rooms, posted EUR 40 million in turnover last year, making it the biggest hotel on the local market, revenue-wise. The facility is owned by Societatea Companiilor Hoteliere Grand, where the majority shareholder is Austrian Bau Holding Strabag. The Marriott hotel chain will set up a local four-star unit under the Courtyard brand in the next two years, according to previous announcements. Corina Saceanu

WHO’S CARMEN SIMION joins 121 Communication as managing director as of this month. Previously, she spent a year as manager of the BTL & online divisions of Cohn & Jansen/Ashley & Holmes, while between 2006 and 2008, she was client service director at the same agency. Between 2005 and 2006, Simion was account director for the Renault account at Publicis. Before that, she was group account director for the Pepsi brands at Graffiti BBDO for three years. Between 1998 and 2001, she was group account director at Scala JWT while before that she filled the position of account executive at Scala JWT. RAMONA ANDREI was appointed PR manager at Ogilvy Public Relations. She has seven years of experience in PR & communication, having previously coordinated programs of corporate communication and consumer marketing for customers in FMCG, industry, pharma, real estate, shopping centers and retail at agencies such as Tempo Advertising and GMP PR. She was one of the team that set the basis of GMP PR. Her portfolio includes campaigns for Tuborg, Carlsberg, Skol, Orangina/Tuborg Romania, Agricola Bacau, Hoffman La Roche, Mobexpert, Flanco and Genco/Samsung. STEPHAN MARIA WEBER, 45, was appointed president of the Romanian Brewers’ Association. He is currently also the president of Ursus Breweries. He has been part of SABMiller Europe since

NEWS 2003 when he was appointed sales & distribution and trade marketing director for Europe. Weber has an MBA in Marketing & Human Resources from the Bayreuth University in Germany as well as a Master’s degree in Business Administration from the Western Illinois University.

BOGDAN NEAGU is the new managing director of Electrolux Romania. He has accumulated over 11 years of experience in management in key positions in companies such as Credit Support and MBC. He also worked for Electrolux Romania from November 2001 to December 2004. Neagu replaces Florin Porojan, who held the position from January 2005 to March 2009. MONICA ALUAS was appointed general manager of ASBIS, after having been sales manager of the company for the past four years. Aluas has worked in the IT industry for 14 years, having held management positions at various companies. She graduated from the Faculty of Computers within the Bucharest Politechnica University and later attended numerous management classes. She is currently undertaking an MBA. MARCO S TETTLER is the new general manager of Pagini Aurii SA. He comes from Ringier AG where he worked as general manager for Ukraine. Before this, he was executive manager of the free newspapers division of Ringier Romania. Stettler was advertising director of classified print & online for Neue Zurcher Zeitung and was involved in founding the online sales company AdLINK Internet Media AG.

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

7


FEATURE

The number of enrollments in Bucharest’s international schools is stagnating because of the recession

International schools let parents sidestep local education system International schools were originally founded to teach expats’ offspring in Romania, but now also educate local children, whose parents are politicians, business people and diplomats. Since most such schools offer international curricula, pupils will adapt more easily if their family moves to another country or they go to college outside Romania. These seats of learning provide highly trained teaching staff, transport and extra-curricular activities. All this comes at a price, and not usually a low one. By Otilia Haraga

The Greek School of Bucharest Athena caters to the some 2,500 registered Greek expats working in Bucharest and 8,000-10,000 Greeks who go in and out of Romania (on business) yearly. It was established in 2008, with the support of the Hellenic Ministry of Education, and under the auspices of the Embassy of the Hellenic Republic in Romania, in response to demand from the large Greek companies operating in Romania. In the first year, the school was open only to Greek and Cypriot pupils, as well as mixed families with at least one Greek/Cypriot citizen, but from the next academic year 8

(2009-2010), it will also accept Romanian and international pupils. A total of 55 pupils, from Greek or mixed families, registered for the school last year. “This year, we expect the number to increase, as there is more awareness about the school and the fact that we can now enroll Romanian children as well,” say school representatives. Teachers are appointed by the Hellenic Ministry of Education after a rigorous selection process. Most of them have between 20 and 30 years of experience teaching in Greece and other countries. Annual tuition fees amount to EUR 3,500. For an additional sum, the school also provides bus transportation to/from school and other benefits. The

registration period has already started and will end in September, once all classes are filled. For the academic year 2009-2010, the Greek School of Bucharest will award three scholarships, based on a selection procedure conducted by a special evaluation commission comprising representatives of the Hellenic Ministry of Education and the Hellenic Embassy in Romania, as well as the president of the Greek Parents’ Association. The Greek School is run by the GPA, a nonprofit organization. Tuition fees are primarily meant to cover the running expenses and to accomplish the long term goal, which is to extend the school’s capacity and educational grades up to 12, as well as operate in its own building. The International School of Bucharest (ISB) has around 600 children enrolled. “We have approximately 40 different nationalities so far for the new school year starting in September,” say school representatives. Approximately 25 percent of the children are Romanian, while the rest come from various countries such as Greece, China, Turkey, Argentina, Portugal, Lebanon, Syria, the USA, Nigeria, Iran, Spanish, Switzerland, India, Hungary, Canada, Bulgaria, Italy, the UK, South Korea, Iraq, Jordan, France, Indonesia, Serbia, Croatia, Slovakia, Poland and Vietnam. Last year, the ISB had 580 pupils. Fees are EUR 4,450 or EUR 5,450 for Early Years foundation, EUR 7,500 for primary school, EUR 8,000 for secondary school and EUR 8,950 for high school. The school is run as a non-profit educational institution, under the SC Lumina Institutii de Invatamant SA, which runs other well known educational institutions in Romania. It was founded in 1996 to meet the needs of the Englishspeaking community, using a rented building and teaching just 17 pupils. “In order to serve an increasingly mobile international community, the curriculum gradually absorbed the practices and requirements of a number of different systems,” say school representatives. In 2001 the school became a CIE Exam center to run the IGCSE Examinations. “This step and the school offering an IGCSE and AS/A level Program has further influenced the multicultural outlook of teachers and pupils,” said school representatives. Despite moving the primary school to a new campus in 2003, rapid expansion saw enrollment grow to around 350 pupils by 2004, necessitating new premises. “Many different locations were considered before Pantelimon was finally chosen for the construction of a new purpose built site,” added the reps.

But will the number of pupils decrease as a result of the financial crisis? “We do not think that the number of pupils will fall, but we may not reach the number we were expecting. This is because many international companies are delaying their projects due to the recession,” say ISB representatives. Recently, the company invested EUR 12 million in its new purpose built campus near Pantelimon Lake. The school offers a school environment on 19,000 sqm (11,000 sqm closed area), on-site sports facilities and a conference hall as well as a cafeteria. The ISB has approximately 85 teaching staff. The majority are native English speakers who have a recognized teaching qualification from a UK university. Teachers need to have experience in teaching the National Curriculum for England and Wales and often come with either an EAL qualification, or international experience teaching English as an additional language. Romanian teachers are trained in teaching the National Curriculum for England and Wales and have a Romanian teaching qualification. They are also highly proficient in English, according to school representatives. The American International School of Bucharest teaches from three-yearolds to 12th graders. “Our enrollment last year was approximately 710. We had around 150 new pupils register during the year,” says Lynn Wells, admission & advancement director at the AISB. There are 50 nationalities represented. Approximately 20 percent of students are Romanian, 14 percent American and the others come from a variety of countries such as Israel, the UK, Germany, the Netherlands and Korea. Fees range between EUR 13,300 and 18,605 per year. This includes afterschool activities and books and a high level of instruction from qualified teachers. Pupils may join throughout the year if places are available. “We have around 100 people in our teaching faculty. They come from approximately 12 different countries around the world including the US, Canada, the UK, New Zealand and Romania. They are recruited primarily through international recruitment services and at international job fairs,” says Wells. The school was founded in 1962 by the US Embassy in Bucharest. “It is a private, non-profit educational institution and therefore does not have individual owners. The AISB is a non-profit foundation governed by a board of directors and the chairperson of the board is the Deputy Chief of Mission of the US Embassy in Bucharest,” says Wells.

BUSINESS REVIEW / June 29 - July 5, 2009


US INVESTMENTS REVIEW local subsidiary with Romanian executives. For example the BPO section will have fully-Romanian management in June, while for the other businesses it depends on the company’s development rhythm in Romania.

CRISIS BURNS PIZZA HUT, BUT RESULTS TOP EXPECTATIONS

Despite no new US firm coming to Romania, existing ones continue to expand and increase FDI

Current American players carry on alone Uncle Sam is far from reaching the top three foreign direct investors in Romania this year. American officials say no newcomers have expressed their intention to come here and invest. But US investors with operations in Romania are expected to continue their expansion here, increasing the level of FDI. Food, consumer goods and energy are the sectors most likely to see expansion this year. By Dana Ciuraru

The local IT&C sector has been very popular with American investors. Internationally known names like Microsoft, Adobe, Oracle and Dell set up bases of operation in Romania several years ago, attracted by the trained and highly skilled workforce. Another domain that has tempted US investors is telecommunication. Cable TV operator UPC Romania entered the Romanian market 16 years ago and has invested about EUR 700 million so far. UPC Romania, which had 1.66 million subscribers a year ago, is a subsidiary of BUSINESS REVIEW / June 29 - July 5, 2009

Holland-based company UPC Holding, part of the American group Liberty Global. Specialized in management consulting, technical solutions and outsourcing, Accenture Romania started operating here a few years ago. The firm’s investments so far, the value of which it has not disclosed, went into the renting of its local headquarters, and training for basic professional skills and foreign languages, said representatives. Its plan is to increase the local team to around 1,000 people in, at most, three years, depending on the business development. Accenture said it was aiming to replace the current international management team of the

The first Pizza Hut restaurant was opened in 1994 on Calea Dorobantilor, and since then the firm has invested more than EUR 8 million in its restaurant chain, Carmen Lupulet, KFC & Pizza Hut marketing director, tells Business Review. The firm is happy with its financial results. According to company data last year, Pizza Hut reported a turnover of EUR 10 million, made with 570 employees. The crisis has left its mark on the American brand’s operations in Romania. “This year, we are not planning to open a certain number of locations. Pizza Hut expansion hasn’t been stopped but moderated. If the real estate market recovers we will analyze expansion opportunities,” said Lupulet.

KFC NOT CHICKEN ABOUT EXPANDING Lupulet says that the first KFC restaurant was opened in Romania in 1997, on Magheru Boulevard in Bucharest. Up until now the company has invested over EUR 15 million in the network. For last year, KFC Romania reported a turnover of EUR 40.5 million. In all, 34 restaurants in Romania and Chisinau employ over 2,000 people. “This year we will continue our expansion on the local market. Since the beginning of this year, we have opened two new KFC restaurants. One is the first drive through in the country, in Sibiu, which required a large investment. We are being much more selective and careful in choosing new locations. We cannot afford to have long waits until the location becomes operational. By the end of the year, we will most probably complete another two or three locations,” said Lupulet. According to her, the main local resource is the 23 million inhabitants which Romania has, a number too large to be ignored.

MCDONALD’S IS LOVIN’ THE LOCAL MARKET The McDonald’s fast food restaurant chain, Romania’s largest player on this segment, intends to expand its local portfolio with the McCafe cof-

fee shop, targeting some EUR 135 million in net sales this year. Estimates for 2009 indicate EUR 100 million for the Romanian business of the American chain. “The McCafe brand will be launched no later than 2010. The location is a bit atypical, more luxurious, and different from the restaurant. We will start in Bucharest, but the concept will be applied in the rest of the country as well,” said Marian Alecu, McDonald’s Romania GM. The company plans to open at least 100 new restaurants, both in Bucharest and the rest of the country, in the coming seven-eight years. The local subsidiary of the American giant’s fast food restaurant network posted some EUR 24 million in net sales in the first quarter of this year, up 10 percent year-on-year. “This is a satisfactory increase for us, considering the current economic context,” added Cristian Savu, communication manager of McDonald’s R o m ania. The firm has 59 restaurants, with more than 4,000 employees, and ended 2008 with EUR 108 million of net sales. The average investment in a restaurant is EUR 1.5 million.

COCA-COLA

FIZZES

One of the best known brands in Romania among consumers, Coca-Cola has been present on the local market for 17 years. “In 1991, it started with zero market share and only two years later became the leader on the soft drinks market. The permanent investment in the improvement of the factories and in the expansion of production, puts us among the top investors in Romania,” Mugurel Radulescu, public affairs and communication manager of CocaCola Hellenic in Romania, told BR. He added: “Over time, we have invested in product development, research, testing, production and the introduction of brands created for the tastes and needs of Romanian consumers. Furthermore, besides all the promotional campaigns in which Coca-Cola constantly invests, together with Coca-Cola Hellenic, the bottler and distributor of Coca-Cola products, we have annually invested close to EUR 1 million in CSR programs.” continued on page 10 9


US INVESTMENTS REVIEW/INTERVIEW ness’s rights. But I think the business community’s views – compared even with other countries in Europe – are rather rigid. The other thing I’d say is that in Romania laws have been changed to react to the crisis, but in such a way that harms investors.

Foreign investors call for coherent policies New American investors in Romania are unlikely this year. BLAIR LABARGE, economic counselor with the Embassy of the United States of America in Romania, told Business Review that the local authorities should focus their attention on current investors. According to him, FDI is more likely to increase due to the companies already here, rather than to newcomers. LaBarge added that in these times of crisis foreign investors are searching for coherent policies and law and tax measures. By Dana Ciuraru

How are US investors’ relations with the Romanian authorities? I would say that Romania should not take existing investors for granted. The local authorities love to talk about Romania’s need to continue to attract investors – a noble goal – but let’s not forget that there is a huge community of investors already established in Romania who have invested in facilities, infrastructure or labor and need the support of the government to continue expanding their operations. I want to emphasize that once a company is established here, it is much easier to provide the right environment to convince them to invest in the local market. 10

The eventual downsizing of companies in the local market has been a response to the effects of the crisis – not because of problems encountered specifically in Romania. But we have felt a lack of sensitivity or perceptiveness from the local authorities about the interests of investors and companies already here. What main issues do investors face in relations with authorities? There is a wide range of issues – tax policy, labor force. Many companies are unhappy with the bureaucracy, not only when hiring people, but also in those instances where it is necessary to downsize. I recognize that there is a balance between protecting the employee’s rights and the busi-

Can you give any examples? There are cases where firms are legally entitled to VAT reimbursement, but it is difficult to get the money back. We also had a situation two months ago when the government, by law, was required to increase the level of its contribution to the pension funds but for budgetary reasons decided not to do this. I understood why, but the firms which run these pension funds have made very substantial investments because of this law – and in many cases they have not made a profit. By making this change the government delayed further any potential profit and, in essence, changed the ground rules. At the same time, this strategy sent a signal to investors that the assumptions they had made about the legal basis for their investments were suddenly no longer valid. I know the government has talked about restoring those contributions in the future but who knows when? Why is Romania still attractive? Romanians are hard working, reliable employees. They often have language skills which, frankly, in other countries in the region are difficult to find, and they adapt well to Western business models. I think the fact that Romania is part of the EU and offers a lower cost platform to produce goods has been a very attractive asset. Romania needs to keep in mind the importance of an attractive labor force. I think it continues to have cost advantages in this segment compared to other countries in Europe, but frankly they have narrowed. Romania has to invest in better education to meet the real hiring needs of the market. It also badly needs significant investments in road and energy infrastructure. Will we see new US companies investing in Romania this year? Specific companies, no. I have to be honest and say that the investment climate is generally very bad. But in areas such as energy and renewable energy there is a great deal of potential investor interest. From what I know, the state is considering approving public-private partnerships (PPP) but investors are waiting to see if it does what it said in terms of legislation. dana.ciuraru@business-review.ro

continued from page 9

P&G

NOT HAIR TODAY AND GONE TOMORROW

Procter & Gamble (P&G) began the construction of its second factory in Romania, in Urlati, Prahova county, this year. The initial investment in the haircare products factory reaches USD 50 million and will double by next year. P&G’s intention is to have a final value of investment in excess of USD 100 million. The production unit will be built on land from Ploiesti Industrial Park. Daniel Myers, production vice-president of the American group P&G, said that there were several reasons which convinced the firm to build the factory in Urlati. One was that P&G already has another factory here, in Timisoara, whose development was a success. In this way, the firm got acquainted with Romanians working practices. A second determining factor was the strategic location of the country, which allows the distribution of products in Eastern Europe. American group P&G has been present on the local market, working in production, since 1995, when it purchased the detergent factory in Timisoara, in which it invested USD 40 million.

SMITHFIELD BEEFS UP LOCAL INVESTMENT Smithfield Ferme started operations on the local market in 2004 and currently handles 50 farms, from an initial investment of USD 600 million. Last year the company reported a turnover of USD 120 million, a 20 percent increase compared with the previous year. Smithfield Ferme cultivates over 20,000 hectares of land, 10,000 hectares of owned property and the other 10,000 rented. The firm also built two factories with investments exceeding EUR 60 million.“Smithfield Ferme’s operational plans for this year involve a USD 20 million greenfield project and making operational another 12 pig farms which will result in an increase in turnover of approximately 20 percent,” Bogdan Mihail, Smithfield Ferme GM, told Business Review.

DELPHI

TO POWER UP PRODUCTION AT IASI FACTORY THIS YEAR

US giant Delphi Diesel SysBUSINESS REVIEW / June 29 - July 5, 2009


A panel made up of (L to R): Luciana Marinescu, ARIS representative, Anca Harasim of AmCham, Blair Labarge from the US Embassy, Marius Persinariu of Xerox and Byan Jardine of Wolf Theiss

tems Romania will open its EUR 100 million factory in northeastern Miroslava, Iasi county, on 1 July, with production to begin in September, said Agnieszka Przymusinska,communications manager of Delphi Eastern Europe. Until that time, the company is carrying out training programs for employees in a small brownfield production unit in the Tehnoton complex in Iasi. Some 1,0001,500 jobs will be created in the first stage of the project, and this number will eventually rise to 2,500. “Delphi has well defined expansion plans, which include a se-

ries of additional investment projects, in accordance with a series of new contracts signed with our clients. Each stage of these projects requires investments in new buildings, machinery and equipment, which indicates our long-term commitment to the Iasi investment,” said the company official.

GE ELECTRIFIED BY ENERGY PROJECTS The American giant General Electric (GE) has been active in Romania since 1984. Since then, many GE divisions have entered the Romanian market, hence the

An audience of over 50 business people attended last week’s US Business Forum, organized by Business Review BUSINESS REVIEW / June 29 - July 5, 2009

number of employees exceeds 1,200 people and is continuously growing. GE’s local presence consists of some registered businesses, including Unison Engine Components Bucharest, former Turbomecanica Combustor Products, the only manufacturing unit for aircraft engine components GE has in South Eastern Europe, and GE Medical Systems Romania, helping healthcare professionals provide patients with earlier diagnosis, information and treatment equipment. Under the GE Money brand, GE offers in Romania financial products such as auto finance and leases, personal loans and mortgages. Romania is one of the fastest growing locations for the firm in Europe, GE's recent local investments together with its partners amounting to about USD 500 million. The prospects are good for the American company, say insiders, as the development of the renewable energy projects is a magnet for GE.

BECHTEL, AN INVESTMENT WITH ISSUES Bechtel is a global engineering, construction and project management company with more than a century of experience on complex projects in challenging locations. Privately owned with headquarters in San Francisco, it has 40 offices around the world and 40,000 employees. In Romania Bechtel is involved in the construction of the Transilvania highway. The project is a four-lane, 415kilometer motorway, stretching northwest from Brasov in central Romania to Oradea on the country's border with Hungary. The project has generated ongoing discussions between the American company and the Romanian authorities over the money for the investment. Recently, it has been said that the American company might finance the second big section of the motorway from Brasov to Targu Mures pending the concession of the entire motorway. Company information shows that the cost per kilometer reaches some EUR 10 million, compared to a European average of some EUR 6-7 million per kilometer. dana.ciuraru@business-review.ro

3Q Anca Harasim executive director, American Chamber of Commerce in Romania (AmCham) What main issues do American investors have to face in Romania? The main concerns are the lack of predictability and stability as well as poor and sometimes non-existent public consultation, the adoption of measures that affect and contradict the flat tax rate, a burdensome bureaucracy, old-fashion legislation which doesn’t illustrate the real progress of the economy, lack of uniformity in applying fiscal provisions and high labor fiscality and rigidity. One area which the Romanian authorities need to address in their relations with investors is VAT reimbursement. Many companies active on the local market are affected by the delays in VAT payments which considerably impact on their cash-flow. How do US investors get on with the local authorities? AmCham has always called for an attractive investment environment, and authorities need to focus on attracting new investors, but also on maintaining current investments. Often, authorities fail to realize that it is easier to attract more investments from businesses which are already operating in Romania, than to draw brand new ones. What is the level of investments by US investors in Romania? According to this year’s Doing Business in Romania – a Country Commercial Guide, the value of US FDI as of December 2008 was USD 1.05 billion. The US is the seventhranked foreign investor nation after Holland, Austria, Germany, France, Cyprus, and Italy. US-source FDI represented 3.6 percent of Romania's total. However, official statistics do not fully account for the tendency of US firms to invest through foreign subsidiaries, meaning the actual amount is higher. Dana Ciuraru 11


FURNITURE MARKET REVIEW By Magda Purice

DON’T

Cushioning the blow: the economic crisis has hit the furniture market, but firms are sharpening their strategies to try and minimize the damage

Sofa, so good but slump heralds tough times for furniture firms The furniture market is estimated to contract by almost one third, back to its 2005 level, according to the latest market research. From a segment estimated last year at over EUR 1 billion, current furniture operations could fall to EUR 820 million. Last year’s increasing price of raw materials, the reduction of corporate and retail budgets this year, companies’ relocations to smaller spaces and cost cutting strategies are among the causes of the slump. To survive and look to the future, furniture firms are hanging on and applying razor-sharp business strategies. 12

BANK ON IT

Elvila, 70 percent of whose business targets the retail segment and the other 30 percent corporate sales, is keeping calm in the face of an estimated downturn this year. While in 2008 the firm managed to make a turnover of EUR 115 million, it now expects a drop of 10 percent. The less than optimistic predictions, attributed in part to the general downturn of all economic sectors, are also due to the tremendous increase in the price of raw materials, estimated by Gabriela Craciun, marketing economist at Elvila, to currently be some 60 percent over the value of 2007. These supplementary costs are mirrored in the product prices, which has hit sales, within an overall downturn on the furniture sector in Romania. Still, Elvila’s business development representatives don’t rule out a future comeback and chain expansion. “So far, Elvila has invested EUR 50 million on the furniture market and, in the future, the investments will focus on large sales stores, following the pattern of the Ploiestibased Elvila store,” Craciun told BR. The company’s main strategy is to finance the business from its own funds and avoid bank loans. Despite the current economic background, the company’s representatives would not consider, even in an emergency, seeking bank financing, “no matter what the situation on the market,” Craciun commented. The same approach to loans is shared by Dan Sucu, owner of Mobexpert. The businessman told BR that the company’s current main strategy is to take out as few bank loans as possible. It has also decided to cancel financing lines worth over EUR 15 million. “The cost of bank financing is really unrealistic at this moment and cannot be sustained from the furniture retail operations,” Sucu explained. He also cited as problems the increasing price of the materials used by all furniture producers to develop the final products, along with the supplementary costs of utilities, fuel and employees. To avoid adding these costs to the sales price, Mobexpert representatives have started to “toughly negotiate” with their suppliers in order BUSINESS REVIEW / June 29 - July 5, 2009


FURNITURE MARKET REVIEW to maintain prices in the local currency but the struggle is far from over, Sucu said. “Every supplier on the market operates using the Euro, and, as a result, everything is related to the Euro. Increases in sales prices were not as visible when the local currency had a good exchange rate with the Euro but the effects were harsh when the depreciation was high,” he added. According to the businessman, there is a general pessimism on the market which has resulted in a weaker furniture industry. Sucu expects a recovery sometime in 2011 or 2012, when yearly targets could be set again, instead of the quarterly-type plans at the moment. Many businesses are playing the waiting game, a predictable strategy to adopt in a very unpredictable economic climate. Mobexpert posted a turnover of EUR 169 million in 2008. Its many divisions include 10 retail companies, eight furniture plants, six import companies and three business units running logistic, IT and development and planning operations for

Horatiu Didea, commercial manager of COS

Dan Sucu, Mobexpert owner

the group. The furniture firm has put EUR 100 million into its development since 1993. As for sales on the retail/corporate segment, the business ratio is similar to the other companies on this market, 79 percent retail and 21 percent corporate. Sucu estimates a slight decrease on the office segment this year, as a natural result of the fewer acquisitions and developments currently being carried out by companies.

In its turn, BoConcept furniture retailer, owned by BD Furniture company, entered the Romanian market in 2006 when it first opened a store inside the Feeria complex in Bucharest. Last year, the retailer opened a second unit of 550 sqm in Sibiu, within Shopping City Sibiu commercial center. With the two units opened so far, the furniture retailer has spent EUR 900,000, according to Diana Staicu, the official representative of the BoConcept

brand on the Romanian market. Last year, the company announced its plans to reach a network of six units countrywide by the end of 2010. Currently, BoConcept is focusing on logistics and plans to open a storage site which will facilitate deliveries for the retailer’s chain. In the last quarter of 2009, a store in Iasi is expected to join the network. Regarding the firm’s business strategy for 2009, Staicu told BR that sales prices have been frozen at a RON/EUR parity of RON 3.9/EUR, in order to keep sales stable. Still a drop of 10 percent is also on the cards for BoConcept in the first quarter of this year. But Staicu says the future looks brighter, with the last quarter expected to generate more positive results. Starting next year, the online sales platform is expected to be implemented within the entire BoConcept business worldwide structure and, based on the current demand coming from its Romanian clients, the company will wait until 2010 to access these services. Galermo, another furniture retailer operating on the local market,

Corporate Office Solutions bets on quality and sustainability registered a 15 million Euros in turnover with the completion of the new headquarters of companies such as ENEL, CETELEM, PEROT SYSTEMS, PHILIP MORRIS, OMNILOGIC, ICON, DISCOVERY CHANNEL, PTC, DANONE, CAP GEMINI, BMW, BULBOACA & ASSOCIATES and KISS FM. Despite the financial crisis, we began 2009 with a nice start, by signing contracts for more than 7 Million Euros in the first 6 months and already completing the new headquarters for companies such as L’OREAL, HOLCIM, BAT, AGIP, MARS, EUROMEDIA, VISA, INTERSNACK and NOVONORDISK. How did the financial crisis affect your company’s business so far this year? In comparison with 2007-2008 timeframe, we have seen fewer projects on the market since the beginning of the year and budgets of clients have dropped drastically in terms of furniture purchase. Companies prefer to keep their existing Christophe Weller, Managing Partner, Corporate Office furniture a bit longer instead of investing in new items. Companies are thinking about cost saving Sollutions at the moment, so furniture purchase for growth What were Corporate Office Solutions’ of personnel gets rarer and rarer and each purchase is done with a lot of caution, stressing a most important projects over the past year? 2008 was a very successful year for COS, dur- lot on prices. We believe that the criteria of ing which we reached our highest turnover ever purchasing have shifted for a lot of companies: since the foundation, almost 12 years ago. We price comes first, before durability, quality, BUSINESS REVIEW / June 29 - July 5, 2009

ergonomics and sustainability. What type of furniture has your company sold best last year? Steelcase desk ranges such as KALIDRO and DOUE, which combine nice design, durability, functionality, ergonomics and very good price positioning, sold well last year. Steelcase chairs have been also a great success with LET’S B as the best seller, followed by THINK, a great chair, very ergonomic and design. COS has also been very successful with the products from its Italian manufacturers, SINETICA, LUXY and DIEFFEBI, thanks to their design, durability and quick delivery terms. What are your main clients? What new clients did you attract recently? Looking at our client portfolio, we see that many multinational companies, such as BRD – GROUPE SOCIÉTÉ GÉNÉRALE, RAVENSDALE, RBS Bank, BAT, ENEL, CETELEM, L’OREAL, PEROT SYSTEMS, ERNST&YOUNG, OMNILOGIC, OFFICE DEPOT, PHILIP MORRIS, HOLCIM are among our top clients. Other major corporations from various industries have joined our client portfolio in the last year: PEROT SYSTEMS, AGIP, ICON, DANONE, PTC, DISCOVERY CHANNEL, MARS, INTERSNACK, EUROMEDIA, DLA PIPER, TEVA PHARMACEURICALS, LINDNER, LEITNER and others. 13


FURNITURE MARKET REVIEW

Empty seats: the general downturn has hit business in the office sector

has developed a business strategy which its representatives deem safer. “Currently, the demand is low due to the general business downturn registered across all economic segments. To fight this problem, we are mainly addressing the high-income users less affected by the crisis, with more than 75 percent of our product portfolio,” said Zafer Gurbuz, general manager of Galermo. The company reported that producers’ prices had more than doubled between 2007 and 2008. Still, once the general slump started to show up in most budgets, the end of last year brought decreasing raw material prices. “Due to the significant stock levels all producers are dealing with, the decrease hasn’t also resulted in lower sales prices to the enduser as yet. We estimate that from the end of 2009, the sales price reduction will start to be more visible,” added Gurbuz. In the near future, the company will focus on developing its countrywide distribution network, which is expected to bring more positive results than the retail operations.

ropean Heritage brand, and which will also include Thomas Antiques,” Ralph Polko, executive director of Quadra Invest, told BR. He added: “There is still a lot of room for expansion, despite the slowdown in the real estate market. We also plan to explore the interior design and consulting business as we have reached a point where we can offer total solutions for interiors that include fabrics, paint and tailormade upholstery besides the ever increasing range of decorations and furniture.” So far, the company, based on export-oriented commercial activities, has opened two European Heritage retail stores in Hunedoara Mall and Sibiu, and plans include the launch of a partner shop in Cluj. “Last year also saw an investment of EUR 200,000 in a Factory Outlet Store in Targoviste, where warehousing and sales are combined in a 800-sqm showroom,” Polko said. The company’s total investments in Romania exceed EUR 5 million so far.

EXPANSION

Cautious and more price-sensitive clients, along with new acquisition expectations, characterize today’s consumer, an opinion shared by both Diana Staicu of BoConcept and Mirela Dumitru, general manager of Innoffice. “Clients are showing more caution over investments in equipment and high-level fixed expenditure, having been negatively impacted by the long periods taken to reach breakeven and due to stagnant activ-

IN SIGHT

Some companies, such as Quadra Invest, are planning to consolidate their local presence through continuous expansion. “We have a continued focus on expanding our portfolio for total interior design solutions, with outstanding service and aff o r d a b l e prices. We currently have 1,000 sqm under construction in the historic center of Bucharest, where we plan to open a flagship store for our Eu14

FURNITURE COMPANIES FACE RESTRICTIVE CORPORATE BUDGETS AND TAXING CLIENTS

Not sitting so pretty: furniture firms are being cautious about making plans

ities. As we are operating on a niche market, there is a paradox in the fact that demand is still there, but the expectations of acquisitions brought about by the new economic trend are negatively balancing this demand,” Dumitru told BR. As InnOffice exclusively targets the office segment, the general downturn in office developments within an overall blocked real estate market has put a hold on the company’s mathematics. “Relocations currently mean smaller spaces and fewer staff, and the new spaces chosen for businesses are rarely A-type class,” Dumitru said. InnOffice, as part of a group of companies, made sales of EUR 1.5 million two years since starting operations on the Romanian market. Most of this sum represents sales from 2008. For this year, the InnOffice representative foresees a possible sales decrease of 40 percent. Dumitru also cited the increasing price of raw materials, resulting in higher sales prices, but has now detected a certain improvement. “The prices of raw material had increased two fold since 2007, resulting in several percentage points so far. Now, though, the prices charged by the producer have obviously improved,” Dumitru said. As a company focusing on the o ffice corporate segment, retail makes up only five percent of the company’s overall business structure, “a share that will remain unchanged in 2009,” Dumitru estimates. Horatiu Didea, commercial director of Corporate Office Solutions in Romania, thinks that the segment on which the firm operates will suf-

fer an overall reduction of 25 percent this year. Still, COS representatives are quite optimistic, following their business strategy of targeting turn-key and ongoing office projects, and do not think the company’s turnover will be affected by the general downturn, maintaining last year’s value of EUR 15 million. In 2008, COS recorded a 13.5 percent increase in its turnover compared with 2007. From this amount, 80 percent came from B2B office solutions sales, according to Didea. Since its establishment on the Romanian market 10 years ago, COS has invested over EUR 2 million and the next investments will target refurbishing and maintenance work at the firm’s showroom in Victoria Business Park and replenishing stocks. On the long term, according to Didea, the company is looking at opening regional subsidiaries in the next two years. As for sales prices, it seems that the office segment is a little bit different from that of home-use furniture producers and importers. COS representatives have acknowledged a slight increase in the price of raw materials but, according to them, it is not enough to push up final sales prices. COS is another of the companies that are shunning bank loans. Like most other players on the furniture segment, it is securing the financing for development from its own resources.

INTERNATIONAL RETAILERS HANG ON This year, the furniture retailer Staer International plans to halve its BUSINESS REVIEW / June 29 - July 5, 2009


FURNITURE MARKET REVIEW imports and increase to 85 percent production at the company's plant in Galati, in line with the strategy adopted for 2009, the company has said. In 2008, the firm posted a turnover of EUR 26.8 million, a decrease of 12 percent from 2007, when it posted EUR 30.44 million. In February 2009, Staer International opened a 4,000-sqm showroom in Brasov and it also has plans to open four more offices in Braila, TarguMures, Bacau and Focsani within local retail parks. The total investment is estimated at EUR 2 million, according to an official statement by the company.

HIGH

As each Ikea unit needs between 12 and 14 months to open, the second store in Romania is likely to open in 2009. The company is currently negotiating for land in Constanta, Galati, Iasi, Cluj-Napoca, Timisoara and Brasov, according to Oprisan. The Austrian Kika also announced expansion plans when it planted its flag on the Romanian market, with a 27,000-sqm store worth EUR 31 million located within West Park Bucharest.

At that time, the retailer planned five more openings in Romania, for which it said it had already secured locations, following an investment of between EUR 30 million and EUR 40 million. “I can see three Kika stores in Bucharest, but countrywide, taking into account that Romania is several times bigger than Austria, I am thinking of a very long-term developed business here. We started with this location in West Park Militari and we have already secured loca-

tions and financing for five other outlets in Romania. At least for Constanta, Timisoara and Oradea, we plan to assign a total of up to EUR 40 million by 2011,” Paul Koch, manager director of Kika, told BR at the end of 2008. Currently, the Austrian Werner Grassmann, in charge of Kika Romania’s retail operations, is busy trying to adapt the Austrian model to the local market. magda.purice@business-review.ro

TIMES FOR HIGH END

Distinct from the wide rangeorientated retailers, Thomasville, which entered the Romanian market last year, claims to have seen no significant effects on the company’s sales, due to the high-end nature of its products. According to a company representative, the luxury furniture segment has not experienced significant differences from last year, since a company targeting the highend consumer gains its profits from the sales value rather than volume. For this year, Thomasville is looking outside Bucharest for expansion, having already developed a showroom in Iasi. Local furniture producers, both small and big, have to face up to a wider range of problems – such as decreasing demand and the price of raw materials – than the international furniture retail chains Ikea and Kika, which chose to target a very clear segment of the market. Kika found a place on the Romanian retail furniture market one year after Ikea came here. The Swedish chain’s local franchise, owned by Moaro Trading, has within its administration and management names such as Michael Lloyd and Puiu Popoviciu. At the end of 2008, Ikea reported a turnover of EUR 104.7 million. Last year, Cornel Oprisan, retail manager of Ikea, stated that the firm’s imminent expansion plans would not include a second store in Bucharest, but the possibility was not being ruled out on the long term. “I don’t think the next store will be in Bucharest. So far, we haven’t bought any piece of land nor signed any contract,” said Oprisan. BUSINESS REVIEW / June 29 - July 5, 2009

15


FURNITURE COMPANIES

Companies are listed in alphabetical order. The information in the list was provided by companies. Only those companies answering our questionnaire were included. Š 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. 12

BUSINESS REVIEW / June 29 - July 5, 2009


Estates&Construction

MARKET

JUNE 29 - JULY 5, 2009 / VOLUME 14, NUMBER 24

BUSINESS REVIEW FORUM

Manage your business environment !

Tri Investments fund puts EUR 15.5 million in Perla Residence apartments and land rights

The residential complex consists of 85 apartments, three villas and various other facilities, and is situated near Pipera Lake

British investment fund Tri Investments has spent EUR 15.5 million on buying up part of residential complex Perla Residence, according to a statement from law firm DLA Piper, which offered legal advice on the deal. The fund has acquired 69 residential units at Perla Residence and some of the property rights over the land where the complex is built. Perla Residence, which is being developed by Crown Constructions, the Romanian subsidiary of Greek

group Morfi, comprises 85 apartments, three villas and other facilities near Pipera Lake. The deal with Tri Investments was carried out through Salamanca Capital, with legal advice provided by DLA Piper. Since the beginning of 2009, the law firm has advised on four deals, with others in progress, according to a recent statement. “Corporate brings around 60 percent of the revenue. This year we've completed four deals, acquisitions or sales and have several others in progress. We

also do work in public procurement and competition. The other 40 percent comes from finance and banking, real estate and employment,� said Marian Dinu, country managing partner of DLA Piper in Romania. Salamanca Capital, though Central Eastern European Residential Opportunity fund (CEERO), has bought more than 600 apartments on the Romanian market, in projects such as Greenfield, Cosmopolis, Green Park and Eminescu View. Magda Purice


ESTATES & CONSTRUCTION MARKET

MiniMax Discount opens EUR 750,000 store

The new store has a 1,100-sqm sales area

Discount chain MiniMax Discount, controlled by Austrian group Real 4 You, has opened a new shop in Cisnadie, Sibiu county, following an investment of EUR 750,000. It also plans to expand to Vulcan, Brasov county, according to a company statement. The unit in Cisnadie delivers 1,100 sqm of sales area and 80 parking spaces. So far, the discount chain runs 20 shops in Romania and plans to develop a countrywide network of 100 discount-type retail units. It aims to open units in cities with more than 30,000 inhabitants, with the entire network coordinated by

the logistic center in Bucharest on 15,000 sqm. Two years ago, Austrian operator Real 4 You announced its plans to build a seven-unit discount mall chain in Romania. The projects, to be operated under the Mega Mall brand, were planned to feature between 24,700 and 68,000 sqm in Botosani, Braila, Focsani, Pitesti, Satu Mare and Sibiu. The Bucharest-based project was projected to deliver a 100,000-sqm planned retail unit and 20,000 sqm of offices. The project in the capital will be built on a 72,000-sqm plot in a dense residential area. The biggest Mega Mall outside Bucharest will be in Sibiu, on some 68,000 sqm. For these developments, the company has secured sites in Focsani, Braila, Satu Mare and Giurgiu, for building shopping and/or big box centers with rentable areas of 10,000 to 25,000 sqm. The chain competes with other discount networks such as Plus Discount, Profi, Penny Market and lowcost hypermarket operator Kaufland in Romania. Discounter Lidl, which has been preparing the ground for its market entry for some time, is expected to open its first stores in Romania in 2010. Magda Purice

Rafar invests EUR 1 million in opening third Debenhams store in Bucharest RTC Holding’s fashion division Rafar plans to open the company’s third Debenhams in Bucharest, in Baneasa Shopping City, following an investment of EUR 1 million, the company has said. The new store delivers 1,000 sqm. Since March 2007 when it was launched on the Romanian market, Rafar has opened Debenhams units in Romania and the Republic of Moldova with an overall sales area of 11,000 sqm. Rafar controls a total of 28 stores, delivering over 15,000 sqm, with franchise rights for fashion brands such as Aldo, Olsen, Mandarina Duck, Sacoor Brothers, Kanz, Pablosky, Toi&Moi, Forever 18, Bijoux Terner, J.Press, Bally, Bruno Magli and Fratelli Rossetti. In 2008, RTC’s plans for its fashion division Rafar were for EUR 7-9 million of investment to be made during 2009 in opening over ten stores on the BUSINESS REVIEW / June 29 - July 5, 2009

Romanian market. “If there is no negative influence to change our plans, in 2009 we expect to open at least two stores for each brand in our portfolio, plus the two or three new brands we will bring to Romania,” said Ramona Stanciulescu, Rafar CEO. According to the representative, the franchise brands are profitable if their sales approach the international average. “The profitability margin on this market is between 5 and 15 percent,” said Stanciulescu of fashion retail. RTC Group restructured its business in 2007, when it sold several divisions, and has also re-organized its fashion retail division. The group currently comprises several divisions. The best known are Proffice, which sells stationery, the book shop chain Diverta, Cup&Cino coffee shops, Rafar, Rimobi and TC Logistics. Magda Purice

Cafe Cafe Constanta: a good reason to visit the city, even during the holiday

Mediterranean restaurant with terrace, coffee-shop and lounge bar right in the center of Contanta city Positioned into a historical building from the center of Constanta, Café Café Restaurant became, for a while, the place of meeting for decorous persons; spectacular architecture, bio-food, traditional recipes, exotic spices transform it in a perfect place, whether we talk about holiday or business meeting. Why we shouldn’t miss the restaurant? Not because the VIPs meet often here or because the lovely atmosphere, but first of all for the healthy food, Mediterranean specialties, unusual recipes, particular for the area. In the Menu you can find seasonal food, the fresh smell of a real garden, Black Sea fish relished with the chef’s

inspiration. Also you can find the wellknown Dobrogean sheep with rosemary, Mediterranean Dorada with pimiento, goose roast with strawberries, ice cream with fresh cherry or Madagascar vanilla baton, marinated bell-pepper or apple. The Mediterranean specific fill the beauty of the location by the variety and freshness of the menu. It is wanted to resuscitate the tastes of grandma` cooks by virtue of fresh ingredients and the perfect recipes. The Bar Menu and the Wine Book complete the offer with coffee recipes from all the Mediterranean Coast, with a spectacular list of cocktails and wines. Details: www.cafecafe.ro; telephone: 0732 190 991

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FEATURE other countries, the local market is still small compared to others in the region. “For example, in Greece there are 20 cord blood banks. In most European countries there are between three and 20 such banks,” Andreia Valter, general manager of Stem Health Unirea blood bank, tells Business Review. But while stem cells from cord blood can be collected and even stored locally, a transplant using those cells is most likely to be be done abroad, as in Romania such transplants have only been conducted experimentally. Stem cells can be taken from adults too, and transplants using such cells have been done in Romania. Last year, 116 such operations were performed in the country, according to data from the National Transplant Agency.

NEW ENTRIES RAISE AWARENESS OF STEM CELL STORAGE

Giving it the hard cell: stem cell storage is a growth area as the technology develops

New business stems from stem cell storage and collection Several firms active locally are making money from collecting and storing umbilical cord blood stem cells, those master cells in the human body that can be used to treat blood cancer and potentially other diseases in the future. Existing players expect competition to get tough, despite the strict regulations and large required investments in equipment, technology and training. By Corina Saceanu Using stem cells to treat various diseases and even replace organs may be a bet for the future and still in the research stage, but what lies in the present is the possibility to store stem cells collected at birth for the next 20 years and use them for transplants to cure blood cancer, for example. 20

Cord blood banks, which keep stem cells frozen for 20 years from birth at minus 196 degrees Celsius, have started to become an option for Romanian individuals as well. With two existing blood banks which store these cells locally, a third blood bank underway and several companies which only collect the stem cells from cord blood at birth in Romania and send them to their blood banks in

Stem Health Unirea, a 50-50 partnership between local Centrul Medical Unirea (CMU) and Greek Hygeia Group, started activity at the beginning of May this year, following an investment of EUR 2 million, the second such bank in Romania. Its target is to store 100 to 150 stem cell samples per month this year, with expectations of storing some 2,000 to 2,500 samples in 2010 and, for the five years after that, around 5,000 each year, according to Valter. The current storage capacity of Stem Health's location in Baneasa is 10,000 samples for this year, but the firm plans to increase it. With a target of around 1,000 stored samples at the end of this year and a cost per sample of EUR 1,600, Stem Health could achieve a turnover of around EUR 1.6 million at the end of 2009. In Romania, unlike in other countries, such as Greece, families decide to sign a stem cell storage contract between the fifth and seventh month of pregnancy, which for Stem Health Unirea means many of those contracts will come into force after July and August, when the babies are born. “We even have several contracts for due deliveries in November,” says Valter. A target of 5,000 contracts a year in the next couple of years seems realistic judging by how many women took out stem cell storage contracts last year in Romania: 8,000, according to the National Transplant Agency. Stem Health Unirea collaborates with all maternity wards in Bucharest and has also started to touch the regional market. Around 90 percent of the clients for such services are Romanian. Most of the foreigners who sign up are working in Romania, but the firm has also received enquiries from doctors

abroad, from Belgrade and Chisinau, on behalf of potential customers there. The price of storage of stem cells in Romania is similar to abroad, but opening a stem cell bank in Romania is not as easy due to the stricter local legislation. However, current players believe more names will enter the local market. Opening a stem cell bank is a costly operation – money goes on equipment, the technology used and training for the laboratory personnel. Storing the stem cells comes at a high cost, as samples are frozen in liquid nitrogen, which is expensive. Valter says storing alone can cost as much as one third of the price of the contract. Stem Health sells stem cell collection and storage packages for EUR 1,600, half of the sum covering all the procedures before storage, and the rest the storage services for 20 years. Stem Health would like to expand from stem cells to other components used for regenerative medicine, as well as to develop a public stem cell bank. “We are currently discussing this project with the National Agency for Transplant, says Valter. Most of the companies active on this market segment take stem cells from babies born in Romania and store them in blood banks in other countries. Such firms have import-export accreditation from the National Transplant Agency. They include Life Renaissance, Cord Blood Center, which also opened the first cord blood bank in Romania last year, Biogenis and Cells Life Center. Biogenis, a company in the Famicord.eu group, which entered the Romanian market in 2007, has doubled its turnover in the first part of this year compared to the same period of the last and it expects up to three times turnover growth at the end of this year compared to the last. “The results are within expectations. The only issue we’ve noticed compared to 2008 is the increase in the number of debtors, patients who sign the contract but fail to pay,” Marius Vicea Calomfirescu, general manager of Biogenis, told Business Review. The firm is now collecting stem cells in Romania and storing them in Poland, but it also has a storage facility in Romania awaiting accreditation. By the end of the year, Biogenis plans to invest EUR 500,000 in a new location for its stem cell bank in Romania, with both collection and storage facilities, according to the GM. So far, the firm has attracted 1,500 clients, and expects the number to grow following several information campaigns. Calomfirescu expects two or three more firms to join the existing ones towards the end of this year or the beginning of the next. “Of the existing comBUSINESS REVIEW / June 29 - July 5, 2009


FEATURE/EVENTS

Andreia Valter of Stem Health Unirea

Marius Vicea Calomfirescu of Biogenis

panies, probably one will cease activity, and the development of the existing ones will be through the expansion of storage capacities in Romania and a new level of pricing in 2010. The market has contracted in this year of crisis by 30 to 40 percent but in 2010 it will probably rebound to the 2008 level,” says Calomfirescu.

Opening stem cell facilities in Romania has the advantage of low costs. “Transport costs are 80 percent lower, which allows more accessible pricing. Also, the number of collected samples has reached a level which justifies investments in technologies and locations,” Calomfirescu explains. corina.saceanu@business-review.ro

Future Shorts Festival, which took place on June 26, was a marathon of short movies at the Bucharest National Theater. Filmmakers from the so-called “New Wave” of Romanian cinema, such as Corneliu Porumboiu, Cristian Mungiu, Tudor Giurgiu, Cristi Puiu and Radu Jude, presented short movies that inspired them and that they could not forget. Since short films are an often overlooked genre, ORICUM Association and Feeder.ro aim to make this event into a tradition. Most of the time, short movies do not reach a wider public but remain objects of study in cinema faculties. “If television channels do not want them, and it seems they don’t, there is always the solution to run them before feature-length movies. The Transylvania International Film Festival did this at its recent edition,” said film critic Alex-Leo Serban.

First digital drive-in cinema opens in Bucharest

Companies which prelevate and store stem cells from cord blood in Romania é Cord Blood Center/CBC Laboratories – private local stem cell bank in

Cluj Napoca, opened in 2008; cost: RON 3,270 plus an annual rate of RON 140 for storage for 20 years; partnership with Eurocord Slovakia é Stem Health Unirea – private local stem cell bank in Bucharest, opened in May 2009; cost: EUR 1,600 for prelevation, tests and storage for 20 years; future possibility of bank loans to cover cost; partnership between local CMU and Hygeia in Greece é Cryo Save Romania/Life Renaissance – local prelevation of stem cells from cord blood, storage in stem cells bank in Holland, laboratory in Mechelen, Belgium; cost: EUR 1,850, includes prelevation and storage for 20 years; Dutch holding é Biogenis – local prelevation of stem cells from cord blood, current storage in stem cells bank in Warsaw, Poland, local blood bank underway; cost: RON 3,452 in total, payable in installments; started activity in Romania in 2007; Romanian-Polish partnership é Cells Life Center – local prelevation of stem cells, cost: from EUR 1,450 to EUR 1,550 depending on payment plan

Stem cells and their use é Cord blood, also called placental blood, is the blood that remains in the um-

bilical cord and placenta following birth and after the cord is cut. The baby's umbilical cord blood is a source of stem cells, which are genetically unique to the baby and the family. Stem cells are the body's master cells because they create all other tissues, organs and systems in the body. Stem cells can be found in the bone marrow, the peripheral blood and the umbilical cord blood. Currently, stem cells are primarily used in transplant medicine to regenerate a patient's blood and immune system after they have been treated with chemotherapy and/or radiation to destroy cancer cells. Transplants with stem cells are currently used in treating leukemia, lymphomas and other blood cancers, brain tumors and bone marrow failure disorders. Emerging stem cell applications include brain injury, type 1 diabetes, heart disease. BUSINESS REVIEW / June 29 - July 5, 2009

Over 300 car loads of viewers can enjoy films

The first digital drive-in cinema in Romania will open on July 1 between Baneasa Shopping City and Ikea. Baneasa Drive In Cinema will be open throughout the summer. The first movie to be screened will

be “Ice Age 3 – Dawn of the Dinosaurs.” The cinema will have a capacity of over 300 cars and a screen of 23.5 x 10 meters. Movies will be screened with the aid of a digital projector and the sound will be transmitted through a local radio frequency that customers will be able to receive through their own car sound system. Baneasa Drive In Cinema will be open daily from 9 pm. Tickets will be RON 15 from Monday to Thursday and RON 20 during the weekend. Children, students and pensioners will pay RON 10. Otilia Haraga

Greek artists sing as international school celebrates first year More than 1,000 people – friends, children, parents, ambassadors and businesspeople – enjoyed a concert by Greek musicians Alkistis Protopsalti and Stefanos Korkolis, which took place at the National Theater in Bucharest two weeks ago. This special performance was a celebration of the Greek School of Bucharest Athena on the occasion of the completion of its first academic year 2008-2009. The school was established in 2008, with the aim of providing high quality education based on the strong foundations and values of Greek culture and heritage. The school was founded with the support of the Hellenic Ministry of Education, and under the auspices of the

Greece is the word: celebrating a year of school

Embassy of the Hellenic Republic in Romania, in response to demand by the dynamic Greek community in Romania. ■ 21


EVENTS

Night of the Cultural Institutes comes Save the Children marks World Refugee Day with special programs up with exhibitions, movies and music

In 2008, 940 asylum requests were submitted in Romania

On World Refugee Day celebrated on June 20, Save the Children Romania organized various events for refugees and asylum seekers in the Centers of Accommodation and Procedures of the Romanian Office of Immigration in Bucharest, Galati, Radauti, Somcuta Mare and Timisoara. In Bucharest, refugee children opened an exhibition of photographs, drawings and artifacts they had made, as well as a competition of pavement drawings. The other locations hosted traditional dance shows, concerts,

trips to tourist attractions and sporting competitions. Over 100 children and young refugees and asylum seekers who are part of the educational and social programs of Save the Children were expected to take part in events with their families. In the past ten years, Save the Children has assisted over 1,000 refugee children and 400 parents in the program The Integration of Refugee and Isolated Children into Romanian Society. “With the services we offer, we try to facilitate their integration into Romanian society and offer them opportunities for education and a safer future,” says Gabriela Alexandrescu, executive president of Save the Children. According to statistical data from the Romanian Office of Immigration, 940 requests for asylum were registered in 2008, a 45 percent growth compared to the previous year. In 2007, the number of asylum requests was 657. The requests in 2008 came mainly from Pakistan (247), India (134) and Iraq (127). So far, there have been 352 requests for asylum of which only 44 were approved. Most came from Afghanistan (53), Pakistan (39) and Turkey (34). Otilia Haraga

Various cultural programs were held at the partner institutions

The Night of Cultural Institutes, now on its third edition, took place last week. Those who answered the call of culture were the French Institute, Czech Center, British Council, Cultural Center of the Hungarian Republic, Vito Grasso Italian Institute, Cervantes Institute, Wallonie-Bruxelles Delegation, Goethe Institute, Romanian Cultural Institute, Greek Cultural Foundation and Austrian Cultural Forum. Three young musicians from Berlin who took the name of Hyperactive Kid performed for the Romanian public in a show that mingled jazz with rock, drum & bass and new music at the Romanian Cultural Institute (ICR). Jazz artist Harry Tavitian & Orient Express also per-

formed on this night. The band have made a splash at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington in 1999, Hanover World Exhibition, Cormons Festival in Italy and other events. The ICR also showcased an exhibition called At the Expats’ Home, with pictures of families of expats living in Bucharest, many of whom graduated from the Romanian classes organized by the Institute. The Greek Cultural Foundation offered a selection of movies. “From the Snow” by Sotiris Goritsas tells of two young refugees and a child who travel from Albania to Greece in hope of a better life. However, once they get there, they are confronted by intolerance. “Eduart” by Angeliki Antoniou is about a young man from Kosovo who is imprisoned in Greece for killing a man. The Cultural Center of the Hungarian Republic hosted a concert by Bakos Arpad, a notable Hungarian cultural figure. Arpad plays Hungarian folk songs mainly in the company of Macedonian musicians using Balkan instruments. Last but not least, the Czech Center welcomed the public to a night of old and new animated movies. These were both Czech productions, films by the French community in Belgium, and Romanian animations selected especially for this event. Otilia Haraga

Toyota Romania recently launched the iQ model, the smallest four-seater car in the world. At three meters long, it has low fuel consumption and is equipped with no fewer than 12 airbags. This car was specially created in response to city traffic and the lack of parking spaces. The iQ model won five stars in the Euro NCAP chart. Prices starts from EUR 13,031.

The second edition of LeisurEXPO, a fair of premium offers for leisure and outdoor activities attractited 2,500 visitors. The fair showcased car brands with prices between EUR 60,000 and EUR 350,000. LeisurEXPO 2009 also showcased ATVs and motorcycles. Bicycles at prices of up to EUR 3,000 were also displayed. Visitors could also admire and purchase garden furniture, decorative plants for the garden and terrace, camping items and luxury trailers. There was also a wide range of leisure boats that went for prices of up to EUR 33,000. The next edition of the LeisurEXPO will be organized in Constitutiei Square in Bucharest and in Polus Center, Cluj. 22

British R&B artist CRAIG DAVID performed in Bucharest on Friday at Turabo Society Club. The artist launched last fall a Greatest Hits album, a “gift for his faithful fans” but also for those who are only now starting to discover the artist’s music. David has sold 13 million records to date. During his concert in Bucharest, he played his best-known hits such as “7 Days,” “Walking Away,” “Rise & Fall,” and “Insomnia.” BUSINESS REVIEW / June 29 - July 5, 2009


Business Review Issue 24, June 29 July 5, 2009  

Stemming the crisis Against a tough background, some firms are making money from the collection and storage of stem cells, a procedure still...