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Romania Insider

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Forty-six paintings from a lot of 59 artworks stolen in Belgium in March were recovered in Bucharest, Agerpres reported.

Local prosecutors and police officers carried out a European mandate issued by Belgium judicial authorities who are investigating the theft of 59 artworks, paintings and sculptures, from an Antwerp storage facility, the Bucharest Prosecutor’s Office said in a release. The damages in the case amount to EUR 160,000.

“Following the searches, 46 paintings from the 59 items were identified and recovered. The Belgian judicial authorities will continue the investigation,” the prosecutors said.

Last year, a house search carried out by Romanian police officers and prosecutors in Neamt county, in northeastern Romania, led to the discovery of old books and manuscripts reported stolen from Feltham, in London, in 2017.

(Photo: Vlad Ispas | Dreamstime.com)

simona@romania-insider.com

Öhlala Pâtisserie, a confectionery and pastry shop offering French-inspired recipes, opened in Bucharest’s Amzei Square.

The pastry shop is the project of Alina Petrea, a 2019 graduate of the Ritz Escoffier School in Paris.

Petrea and her husband, French Sébastien Cazac, invested EUR 100,000 in the project. The amount covers the design and furnishing of the venue in Amzei Square, the equipment for the production laboratory, the branding and consulting. The two expect to recover the investment over the next three years.

Alina Petrea worked alongside French chefs such as François Perret, Tristan Rousselot and Olivier Lainé. She also went through a two-week internship in the laboratory of François Perret, named the best confectioner in the world in 2019 by the association Grandes Tables du Monde.  She returned to Romania in 2020, after almost 30 years spent in Paris, and founded Öhlala Pâtisserie with her husband.

All products are created by combining French techniques with both local ingredients and ones brought from suppliers in France. “My goal is to use my personal vision, as well as what I learned at the Ritz Escoffier School, to create products that become memorable. In search of the best raw materials, I discovered tasty fruits, of local origin, which I will combine with Romanian milk and cream, French butter and many other quality ingredients. For me, my cakes are the result of an alchemy, a tribute to the two cultures that I appreciate and admire - the Romanian and the French,” Alina Petrea says.

The venue also serves a range of specialty coffee drinks.

Öhlala Pâtisserie (1-3 Christian Tell Street) is open from Wednesday to Sunday, from 10:00 to 23:00. The place can seat 20 inside and 16 on the terrace.

(Photo courtesy of Öhlala Pâtisserie)

simona@romania-insider.com

Romanian conductor Cristian Măcelaru will record all the works of George Enescu with Deutsche Grammophon, the George Enescu Festival announced.

The recording will be done with Orchestre National de France in a project estimated to take ten years. The choir of the George Enescu Philharmonic in Bucharest and various soloists from Romania will participate in the project.

The Romanian conductor, who took over as music director of Orchestre National de France last year, presented the project in a meeting with president Klaus Iohannis, after one concert delivered by the French orchestra at the Enescu Festival, ongoing in Bucharest. Iohannis was in the audience at the concert. 

It is the first dedicated recording of Enescu’s works with the music label.

(Photo: Adriane White, courtesy of Enescu Festival)

simona@romania-insider.com

Romanian prime minister Florin Cîţu announced on Wednesday, September 15, that he no longer wants economic activities to be closed when the Covid incidence rate rises above 3 per thousand.

The large-scale use of the green certificate is one of the proposed alternatives that would allow activities to remain open. PM Citu was asked, at the end of the Government meeting, when the use of the green certificate for various activities will be approved, but he didn't provide a precise answer.

"First of all, the National Committee for Emergency Situations (CNSU) must adopt a decision in this regard, then it must be issued a Government decision," the prime minister said, quoted by News.ro.

But he assured that the economy would no longer be closed as it was in the previous Covid waves.

"In order for the economic activities to remain open, we need to have some form of monitoring. The green certificate […] is one of the proposals for these activities to remain open. Restaurants can remain open based on a green certificate; it is a proposal, we will see if it will be approved in CNSU. […] Now we have a vaccine, we also have a way to check if someone has been vaccinated, tested, or gotten sick. It's a way to keep the economy open, but at the same time follow some rules," he explained.

(Photo: Thea Photography/ Dreamstime)

andrei@romania-insider.com

Romanian prime minister Florin Citu said that he remains in his office, despite the collapse of the ruling coalition, to avoid the collapse of the state.

He also said that his partnership with President Klaus Iohannis is "stronger than ever."

"There is no doubt - the partnership with President Iohannis is stronger than ever. This partnership is seen in the EUR 80 bln that we will implement through the Liberal Government in the coming years, money that was obtained with the help of the President last year," said PM Citu, quoted by Antena 3.

Last week in Switzerland, President Iohannis said that he is not concerned with the political turmoil and that the political situation is not at all supporting such concerns.

In the meantime, the liberal MPs backed by the Social Democrats sent an opinion, on behalf of the Parliament, that compromises the odds of the no-confidence motion filed by the reformist USR-PLUS against the Government.

Specifically, they insisted that not all the document was handwritten, but some of them (including signatures) were copies.

The Constitutional Court expected until September 15 the opinions on the no-confidence motion from both the Parliament and the Government before ruling on the conflict between the two parties.

(Photo: Gov.ro)

andrei@romania-insider.com

All Romanian insurers have significantly raised the prices charged for the mandatory car insurances (RCA) OVER the last ten days amid major problems faced by the market leader City Insurance, which is close to bankruptcy, Bursa reported.

Data supplied by insurance brokers consulted by HotNews.ro indicate that Euroins, the second-largest RCA insurer, previously charging prices marginally above those charged by City, increased the fees the most, while other insurers followed the same trend.

In separate news, there are reports about car repair shops refusing car owners that show up with insurance policies issued by City. I

n separate news, prime minister Florin Citu announced that the Government would pass next week two emergency ordinances (OUG): one of them will regard the prices on the RCA market, and the other will regard particularly the situation at City Insurance and will guarantee that all those with a claim against City will receive their money, News.ro reported.

(Photo: Pixabay)

andrei@romania-insider.com

After selling four logistics parks in Craiova, Sibiu, Arad, and Oradea to regional market leader CTP for a sum between EUR 55 mln and EUR 60 mln, the Maltese group Zacaria announced that the transaction would allow it to continue developing industrial parks, shopping centers, and residential projects in Romania.

"Regarding our immediate plans, we will continue the development of new industrial parks, in the first phase in Sibiu and Piteși and, moreover, we will accelerate the construction of residential complexes, already having some land ready. At the same time, the capital infusion will be directed to new business lines that we want to open in Romania, especially in the retail sector," said Jonathan Scifo Diamantino, CEO Zacaria, quoted by Profit.ro.

The company will soon begin works at three residential projects in Sibiu, Craiova and Bucharest, thus bringing about 550 apartments on the market. Zacaria will then start in October a residential project in Sibiu totaling 121 apartments.

For the end of 2021, Zacaria has scheduled the debut of another major project located in the center of Craiova. Valletta Towers totals 191 apartments.

(Photo: Pixabay)

andrei@romania-insider.com

Wood & Company Financial Services, a top 10 intermediary on the Romanian stock exchange, is reportedly preparing the listing of the online retailer Elefant.ro through an IPO at the Bucharest Stock Exchange (BVB) through an initial public offering (IPO) scheduled for November this year, according to Ziarul Financiar quoting sources familiar with the operation.

Elefant Online, the company that operates the elefant.ro online store, has already issued bonds (RON 7.6 mln, or EUR 1.5 mln) at BVB that mature on September 27, 2021.

Elefant has attached a 9% coupon payable twice a year on its bonds issued in February 2019.

The company reported a modest increase in revenues and deep RON 3.79 mln (EUR 0.76 mln) losses in Jan-Jun this year, compared to thin RON 0.47 mln net profit in the same period of the year before, according to a company’s statement filed to Bucharest Stock Exchange (BVB).

According to Confidas.ro data, Elefant is 60.7% owned by Millennium Gold Resources Limited, registered in Cyprus, OLIF BV in the Netherlands (29.4%) and Catalyst Romania Sca Sicar (9.92%).

(Photo courtesy of the company)

andrei@romania-insider.com

The yield of the Romanian long-term debt (10 yrs) traded on the secondary market increased again in August 2021, to a staggering 3.72%, according to data published by the European Central Bank quoted by CursDeGuvernare.ro.

It has risen to the highest level in the last 12 months, after falling in February 2021 to only 2.65%.

From just 3.24% in July, Romania’s long-term interest rate moved upward, against the trend seen in European markets.

There were only several countries where the interest rate rose, but only marginally - in the Czech Republic (from 1.72% to 1.74%) and Hungary (from 2.83% and 2.84%).

Poland managed a marginal reduction (from 1.61% to 1.60%). Outside the euro area, Croatia (0.43% from 0.45%) and Bulgaria (stationary at 0.14%) performed much better.

The EU27 average fell again in the negative area, from +0.02% in July to -0.08% in August. Basically, Romania borrows money at record interest rates.

Romania ranks first in the top of the most expensive loans that can be taken by a member state of the Union.

The spread versus the second-weakest peer, Hungary, has widened. After a declining trend in previous months, the spread widened versus the Czech Republic as well and rose to a level 2.3 times higher than Poland, an economy with a similar currency regime and the closest in structure to the Romanian one.

(Photo: Tibor Duris/ Dreamstime)

andrei@romania-insider.com

Alfred Stern, the CEO of Austrian group OMV - the majority shareholder of OMV Petrom - is meeting Romanian President Klaus Iohannis on September 16, in the context of the group being expected to make a final investment decision on the natural gas offshore project in the deep Black Sea.

For the decision, however, the group needs all the details, including the amended offshore law promised by the Romanian Government a couple of years earlier.

The overall picture is further blurred by talks about capping the energy (natural gas included) prices in the context of the regional surge of the prices.

The price of gas could be capped because it is a special situation that requires special solutions, said prime minister Florin Citu quoted by Ziarul Financiar daily.

This is not exactly the version of the energy minister Virgil Popescu after the September 15 Government meeting - who mentioned a more market-oriented scheme including end-user subsidies.

PM Citu mentioned this version as well, but apparently, the final version of the plan is not yet drafted. In any case, PM Citu said that some 60% of the households would see their gas bills 25% subsidised.

"We had discussions about capping the gas price. There are several options we think about. It is important not to distort the market ", the prime minister said, adding that the capping of the gas price can negatively affect the investments in this field. 

(Photo: Pixabay)

andrei@romania-insider.com

Romania’s opposition Social Democratic party drafted and is promoting a bill for capping the energy (electricity, natural gas) prices at the past six months’ average.

The losses incurred by the suppliers will be covered by the Government from a fund financed from energy producers’ profits (50% of their net profits) and from the central government budget, explains PSD deputy president Mihai Tudose, Economica.net reported.

This would be a temporary fix until the Government sets in place a more sustainable framework for protecting the households.

The Parliament has just enacted the so-called “vulnerable consumer bill” aimed at supporting low-income households, but the schema was seen as fragile as the Government itself is now discussing some more realistic subsidies for households hacked with high energy prices.

Speaking of the supportability of the current energy prices in Romania, it is more the expected further hikes that create panic since, at this moment, the end-user prices have increased less than the wages over a three-year perspective (since the latest energy price shock).

The natural gas price at the BRM commodity exchange in Bucharest rose from RON 220 per MWh in August to RON 250-290 in September.

The prices set under the forward contracts indicate RON 307 per MWh in October and RON 317 per MWh in November (Aleph).

Similarly, the electricity price on the spot market has tripled as of August compared to the same period last year - while the end-user price has advanced by only 18%.

The surging energy prices on the spot markets all over Europe put massive pressures accumulated by the suppliers - while the Governments attempt to mitigate (or smooth) the impact on the end-users. 

(Photo: Aitor Muñoz Muñoz | Dreamstime.com)

andrei@romania-insider.com

Romania will not face natural gas shortages during the coming winter season because its deposits are 70% full at this moment, explained minister of economy Virgil Popescu, News.ro reported.

From 2.1 bln cubic metres in the deposits, the reserves will increase up to 2.4 bln cubic metres by October 1, which is “more than enough” - he assured.

The statement comes to address the comment of the Association for Smart Energy regarding imminent shortages.

The Association argues that after the natural gas routes in the region have changed, Romania was left with a smaller interconnection capacity that may be insufficient in the case of prolonged periods with low temperatures, according to Mediafax.

Romania’s gas deposits, irrespective of how full are they, can yield a limited daily capacity, and this limit has been repeatedly reached in the past years forcing the authorities to restrict the consumption at some non-key industrial users. This is technically possible to happen this winter again, in case the weather will be extremely cold. 

(Photo: Pixabay)

andrei@romania-insider.com

Romania’s Government considers subsidising households’ electricity and natural gas bills, minister of energy Virgil Popescu announced after the Executive’s meeting on September 15, Mediafax reported.

The households using between 30kWh and 200 kWh per month will receive RON 0.18 per kWh, which is around 22% of the average electricity price (RON 0.82 per kWh).

The size of the subsidy was calculated as the differential between the best (lowest) offer on the market and the average offer, minister Popescu explained.

The households using less than 30 kWh per month are holiday homes, and households using more than 200 kWh per month must be wealthy ones that need no subsidy, minister Popescu explained.

Using electricity for heating is, therefore, a wrong option for Romanian households (except for the wealthy ones).

But not many households use more than 200 kWh per month, according to minister Popescu - who claims that 13 mln Romanians (out of 19 mln) fall into the category of 30 kWh to 200 kWh per month. Most likely, the minister has used the average monthly consumption.

As regards the subsidies to natural gas consumers, households with annual consumption of under 1,200 cubic metres will receive such support.

The 25% subsidy was calculated based on an expected price of 255 per MWh, roughly twice the price last winter.

The subsidies will be effective November 1, but everything is at the level of scenarios discussed by the Government, minister Popescu added. 

(Photo: Gov.ro)

andrei@romania-insider.com

Romanian heritage and contemporary works of art worth over EUR 9 million are exhibited at Art Safari, one of the largest local events dedicated to visual arts, according to News.ro. The event takes place at the Dacia-Romania Palace and Arcub-Hanul Gabroveni in downtown Bucharest between September 16 and September 26.

Art Safari 2021 features about 850 works of art coming from the collections of 25 museums and 80 private collections.

The event includes several exhibitions, namely Samuel Mützner. Following Claude Monet (curator Rodica Marian), Seduction & Triumph in Art. Female artists of Romania (curatorial team: Elena Olariu, Angelica Iacob, Ana Maria Măciucă-Pufu, Cristina Ioniță-Măciucă and Liana Ivan-Ghilia), Constantin Piliuță. Zenith Color (curator Călin Stegerean), and Superheroes/Antiheroes. Trends in Romanian Contemporary Art (curator Raluca Demetrescu).

The Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Romania also announced that it supports the event in Bucharest. In the event’s opening, on Wednesday, September 15, representatives of the Embassy unveiled, for the first time, a giant floral copy of the Vas cu tufănele painting by Romanian painter Samuel Mützner.

“The work, specially designed to mark this moment, has the dimensions of 4 x 4 m. The original painting – oil on cardboard – measures 33.5 x 42.5 cm and is exhibited within Art Safari. 1,750 Dutch plants were used to make this project initiated by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Romania. Overall, the plants used to make the copy of Samuel Mützner’s painting weigh about 400 kilograms,” the Embassy said in a press release. 

“Inside the pavilion, visitors will discover a room dedicated to greenery where they could be inspired by bold landscape architecture projects promoted within the Romanian-Dutch bilateral partnership Urban Landscapes Romania. The exhibition is mirrored in reality by 2 spectacular trees located in the Izvor area inviting creativity to activate the urban space of Bucharest,” the same statement reads.

Art Safari awaits visitors Monday to Sunday between 12:00 and 21:00. Night Tours are also available on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 22:00 to 01:00.

Further details are available here.

irina.marica@romania-insider.com

(Photo source: Facebook/Art Safari Bucharest; photo credit: The Storyalist)

Two UNESCO experts arrived in Romania on Wednesday, September 15, for a field mission to evaluate the Buzău Land (Ținutul Buzăului), the country's candidate for the Global Geopark title. They are set to spend several days in the area to take the pulse of the local community and meet with mayors, entrepreneurs, locals and teachers.

The experts' visit represents the last stage of the project evaluation process. After this, the project can be accepted for the title, postponed, or rejected.

The UNESCO specialists will evaluate the criteria that the Buzău Land must meet to get the Global Geopark status while also checking to see if the reality confirms the information included in the file sent to Paris in December 2020.

To get the Global Geopark title, Buzău Land has to meet 99 of 101 criteria. All the famous tourist landmarks of the Romanian area will be evaluated by September 19, such as the Muddy Volcanoes, the domes of salt, the Eternal Flames, or the Trovants from Ulmet.

According to a statement from the Ținutul Buzăului Association, the two UNESCO evaluators are known to be highly rigorous. Ilias Valiakos (Lesvos Island Geopark, Greece) is the UNESCO evaluator with the most field missions and one of the most experienced Geopark evaluators, while Margaretha Roelfs (Hondsrug Geopark, The Netherlands) comes from the only UNESCO Global Geopark in the Netherlands.

After the field evaluation mission, the two experts will provide general feedback without immediately giving a verdict. About a week after the visit to Romania, they will send a joint report to the UNESCO Secretariat in Paris. The latter will analyze the report, together with the other two reports prepared by a UNESCO commission and a commission of the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS) - based on the file submitted by the Ținutul Buzăului Association in 2020.

Next, the UNESCO Secretariat will send a proposal for acceptance, postponement or rejection to the Board of UNESCO Geoparks, which meets every year in May. The final decision will be communicated based on the votes obtained.

By obtaining the UNESCO Geopark status, Buzău Land will become an internationally recognized territory, being promoted by UNESCO and the European and Global network of Geoparks. At the same time, the status of Global Geopark will attract tourists and have the potential to convince entrepreneurs to invest in alternative tourism, agrotourism, cultural or adventure tourism.

Ținutul Buzăului Association will ensure the Geopark's management, with its partners' support, including the Buzău County Council and the University of Bucharest, a Scientific Council, and an Advisory Council.

Also, the Buzău Land will have a multi-annual budget for this project, with the funds being provided by the Buzău County Council and by the Ținutul Buzăului Association. Other income sources, such as sponsorships, donations, or the revenues from selling products under the Ținutul Buzăului brand, will add to the Geopark's budget.

At present, there are 169 UNESCO Global Geoparks in 44 countries, according to official information. Romania's Haţeg Geopark is also on the list.

irina.marica@romania-insider.com

(Photo source: Ținutul Buzăului Association)

Elrond (EGLD), a fast-growing cryptocurrency that serves the blockchain with the same name, has reached a market capitalization of over USD 5.5 billion after its price almost doubled in the last week, climbing as high as USD 300.

On Wednesday, September 15, EGLD was trading at USD 273 and the total market capitalization was USD 5.3 bln, making it the 33rd most valuable cryptocurrency in the world, according to Coinmarketcap.com.

The strong price increase was supported by Elrond’s push into the United States. Starting Thursday, September 9, US citizens can buy EGLD via credit card directly from the network's Maiar app.

Elrond was created by Romanian Beniamin Mincu and his team of developers from Sibiu, who are looking to create a blockchain that is at the heart of a global, borderless and fully accessible digital economy.

Elrond launched its mainnet in July 2020 but the EGLD price exploded in January-February this year, just before the blockchain launched the Maiar app, which made it much easier to buy or transfer the native cryptocurrency.

In April, Elrond reached USD 240, after which the price dropped to USD 60 in June, and then started a new rally as the crypto market recovered.

Elrond is also working on launching its own decentralized exchange – Maiar Exchange.

 

editor@romania-insider.com

(Photo source: Elrond Network Facebook page)

 

Most Romanians believe that the general situation in Romania is worse than 30 years ago, according to an INSCOP Research survey. Moreover, a significant share of the population is also pessimistic about the future.

The survey, published on Facebook by INSCOP director Remus Stefureac, revealed that 63% of Romanians believe that the general situation in Romania is worse than it was 30 years ago, 23.4% think that the situation is better, and 9.3% see no change, local Agerpres reported.

When asked to say how they think the general situation will be 30 years from now, in 2050, 44.6% of respondents said it would be worse. Almost 31% believe it will be better, 11.6% don’t expect things to change, and 12.9% said they do not know or did not answer.

Commenting on the results, Remus Stefureac said: “Sociological data capture a terrible chronic pessimism of the Romanian population, as the present is perceived as being much worse than 30 years ago, and the future worse than the present.”

He also made a comparison with an INSCOP survey from 2014, according to which only 12% of Romanians believed that life would be worse in 25 years, and only 40% said that life was worse than before 1989.

The data presented by Stefureac are part of an INSCOP Research survey supported by Strategic Thinking Group and were collected by phone between September 2 and September 5. A total of 854 respondents took part in the survey.

irina.marica@romania-insider.com

(Photo source: Radub85/Dreamstime.com)

The European Parliament (EP) adopted, with 387 votes in favour, 161 against and 123 abstaining, a resolution on the rights of LGBTIQ persons in the EU, sending a strong political signal to the European Commission and the EU Member States, local News.ro reported. In this resolution, the MEPs emphasize that LGBTIQ citizens should be able to fully exercise their rights, including the right to free movement, everywhere in the European Union.

“The resolution states that marriages or registered partnerships formed in one member state should be recognized in all of them in a uniform way, and same-sex spouses and partners should be treated the same as their opposite-sex counterparts,” the EP said.

In this context, the European Parliament also said that the European Commission (EC) should take action against Romania for breaches of EU values. The MEPs say that Romania failed to update national legislation to reflect the European Court of Justice (CJEU) ruling in the Coman & Hamilton case, which found that “spouse” provisions in the Free Movement Directive also apply to same-sex couples.

The ruling was made in the case of Romanian Adrian Coman and Clay Hamilton, an American national, who were married in Brussels in 2010. The couple wanted to be able to live in Romania, but the Romanian authorities declined to grant Hamilton a right of residence because the country does not recognize marriages between same-sex couples conducted abroad. Thus, the two sued the General Inspectorate for Immigration and the Ministry of Internal Affairs in 2013.

The case reached the Romanian Constitutional Court (CCR) at the end of 2015, which decided to refer it to the European Court of Justice. In June 2018, CJEU ruled that EU member states need to respect the freedom of residence of same-sex spouses in the European Union, regardless of whether they recognize same-sex marriages or not. About a month later, CCR also ruled that same-sex married couples have the right to move and reside freely in Romania if one of the spouses is an EU citizen.

“In the last three years, both decisions have been ignored by the executive, legislative and judicial powers. The courts, which were supposed to resolve the discrimination case initiated by Adrian, Clay and ACCEPT against the General Inspectorate for Immigration (IGI) and the Ministry of Internal Affairs, failed,” local NGO ACCEPT said.

“Following the justice’s failure at the national level, the Coman-Hamilton couple and the ACCEPT Association addressed the ECHR, and the trial  began on March 1, 2021. The ECHR will debate the violation of their right to marriage, non-discrimination, family life and access to justice,” ACCEPT added.

irina.marica@romania-insider.com

(Photo source: Dreamstime.com)

Romanian tennis star Simona Halep, a former world No. 1, will marry her boyfriend Toni Iuruc today, September 15. The civil ceremony will be held in Constanta, Halep's hometown, and will be followed by a party with about 300 guests, according to local Adevarul.

Simona Halep and businessman Toni Iuruc have mainly invited friends and relatives to their wedding today. However, according to TelekomSport, the guest list also includes important names such as former professional tennis players Ilie Nastase and Ion Tiriac, and even president Klaus Iohannis.

Simona Halep confirmed last week that she will get married in a few days. "It's a beautiful event. I am emotional. These are different emotions than winning a Grand Slam, it's the personal part, tennis remains tennis. This is an extremely important step, and I'm happy it's happening," Halep said at the Otopeni Airport as she returned home from the US Open tournament.

Simona Halep, one of Romania's best tennis players, has won two Grand Slam singles titles so far: the 2018 French Open and the 2019 Wimbledon Championships. She was also number one in the WTA singles ranking twice between 2017 and 2019.

irina.marica@romania-insider.com

(Photo source: Lcva/Dreamstime.com)

The number of daily Covid-19 cases already reached nearly 4,000 in Romania on September 14, up from 2,000-3,000 until recently. The 10,000 figure mentioned by the authorities as possible in October seems thus much closer.

According to Andrei Baciu, secretary of state in the Ministry of Health, the fourth wave of the pandemic will probably be the most intense so far due to the increased contagion of the Delta strain.

"I think it is essential to adjust the perception on this subject. The pandemic will not end in these months, it will not end in these weeks, neither in Romania nor in other parts.[...] A properly worn mask protects you to a great extent," Andrei Baciu, Digi24 reported.

andrei@romania-insider.com

(Photo source: Dreamstime.com)

Influential Social Democrat leader Viorel Hrebenciuc - who served as MP between 1996 and 2014 - was given three years of jail for influence peddling, G4media.ro reported. The sentence is final.

Specifically, Hrebenciuc convinced members of the media market regulator CNA to give back a TV license, previously invalidated, to Gheorghe Stefan - the owner of Giga TV station.

CNA head Laura Georgescu was given 52 months of jail and Gheorghe Stefan 54 months.

Earlier this year, Hrebenciuc was given 36 months of prison, with execution (not final), in a file where he is accused of fraudulent restitution of 43,000 ha of forest.

andrei@romania-insider.com

(Photo source: Inquam Photos/George Calin)

Romanian online retailer Elefant.ro, a small-sized player on the local market, reported a modest increase in revenues and deep RON 3.79 mln (EUR 0.76 mln) losses in January-June this year, compared to thin RON 0.47 mln net profit in the same period of the year before, according to a company's statement filed to Bucharest Stock Exchange (BVB) where its bonds are traded.

The company's officials hope that the customers will return online after spending their holidays outdoors, with a visibly negative impact on e-commerce.

"The year started with a robust growth in e-commerce, which then gradually diminished after the relaxation of restrictions. Beginning in May, Romanians focused their consumption more on holidays, restaurants, shows, and convenience stores. We see this market correction as on a transitional one, and we expect a return of the increase of online consumption starting with September," said Sergiu Chircă, general manager of Elefant.ro, according to Bursa.ro.

The report regards the financial situation of Elefant Online S.A., the company that issued the bonds, under national accounting procedures. Its revenues increased marginally from RON 102.4 mln (EUR 20.5 mln) to RON 104.4 mln (EUR 20.9 mln). The company's payroll surged from RON 6.46 mln to RON 8.33 mln, and the value of the outsourcing contracts advanced as well from RON 17.5 mln to RON 20.9 mln.

In another statement, Elefant Group reports (under IFRS) tripling of its losses to RON 4.55 mln (EUR 0.9 mln) in January-June 2021, from RON 1.66 mln losses in the same period of 2020. Group's total revenues increased from RON 103.5 mln to RON 107.2 mln.

The better financial indicators this year were mainly stimulated by attracting a larger number of unique visitors to the site, the company explains.

iulian@romania-insider.com

(Photo source: the company)

Troubled Romanian insurer City Insurance currently has a market share of almost 45% in the mandatory car insurance segment (RCA), the biggest market segment by far, according to Mădălin Roşu, president of the Romanian Motor Insurers' Bureau (BAAR), Ziarul Financiar reported.

This is more than the bankrupt companies Astra Asigurări and Carpatica Asig had at the time of their collapse, he stressed. In conclusion, the costs of a possible bankruptcy of the City Insurance market leader could be higher - but this also depends on the portfolio structures of the three companies.

Until the end of June 2021, BAAR paid EUR 44 mln on behalf of Astra and EUR 62.7 mln on behalf of Carpatica. After payments amounting to EUR 106.7 mln, BAAR still has to pay EUR 12.1 mln for Astra and EUR 25.5 mln for Carpatica (a total of EUR 37.6 mln).

City Insurance, the leader of the insurance market and the dominant player in the insurance area RCA, is on the verge of seeing its operating license withdrawn - a firm step toward its bankruptcy. While the license's withdrawal is operated by the financial market regulator ASF when the insurer fails to meet the capital requirements, the bankruptcy can be decided only by the court.

andrei@romania-insider.com

(Photo source: Dreamstime.com)

"We do not compromise on the safety of car passengers and pedestrians, but we carefully choose the assistance systems," explained Gilles Le Borgne, executive vice president of engineering Renault Group, according to Economica.net.

Romanian carmaker Dacia's two new models, Sandero Stepway and Logan, received in April only two (of five) NCAP stars, despite rather good protection provided to passengers (four out of five stars ) and average protection provided to pedestrians and cyclists.

Several Renault officials, including Denis le Vot - CEO Dacia and Lada, Gilles Le Borgne - executive vice president of engineering Renault Group, and Laurens van den Acker - executive vice president of design Renault Group, were in Bucharest last week to wrap up the details of the next generation of the brand's SUV model Duster.

In a discussion held on this occasion with a group of Romanian journalists, they also explained how the safety level of Dacia cars - one of the main points of criticism expressed by local buyers still reluctant to "buy Romanian" - is designed to respect the idea of "essential" equipment.

As it is already known, the word that currently defines the Dacia models is no longer "low-cost" but "essential," they explained. This brand new concept floated by le Vot explains not only the frugal safety features of Dacia models but also the prices that have increased significantly compared to the previous models.

andrei@romania-insider.com

(Photo source: Dacia)

Romania's industrial production index increased by 3.1% YoY in July, losing momentum from the outstanding (and low-base driven) 12% YoY growth in June and 29% YoY surge in May.

The industry has visibly recovered from last year's crisis, but in terms of gross industrial output, it still lags behind the pre-crisis levels: its production was still 3.6% smaller in July this year, compared to July 2019. But this is no surprise as the industrial slowdown became visible in 2018, and the industrial growth turned negative in 2019 - well before the crisis.

The industrial decline in 2018-2019 was sometimes seen on a positive note as a shift to higher value-added sectors much needed in order to support the higher wages prompted by a tight labour market.

The narrative of re-industrialising the country in the context of new production chains (less vulnerable to global disruptions) has been circulated since the lockdown period, but except for the expansion of logistics real estate developments (and local production of face masks), nothing supports it so far. On the opposite, Dacia's first electric car is going to be Made in China.

In related news, the statistics office INS announced that the industrial turnover surged by 13.6% YoY in July. The double-digit growth comes after much higher figures in the previous months (the advance for the whole January-July period was 24% YoY), and it is explained by the substantial increase in industrial prices.

For January-July, the industrial output advanced by 14% YoY while the industrial turnover soared by 24%. The 10pp spread, standing for the rise in industrial prices, remained intact for July as well. 

andrei@romania-insider.com

(Photo source: Pixabay.com)

Romania’s public debt has increased by RON 19.3 bln (EUR 3.9 bln) during July, when the Government issued EUR 3.5 bln worth of Eurobonds, to RON 545.3 bln (EUR 110.2 bln) at the end of the month.

And yet, the debt-to-GDP ratio eased to 49.3% at the end of July, from 49.5% reported one month earlier. This was possible thanks to the methodology saying that the ratio is calculated under the latest available value of the four-quarter GDP at the reporting date.

On September 7, the statistics office INS reported the Q2 GDP and the four-quarter GDP calculated as of the end of June was 2.8% higher (in nominal terms) compared to that calculated at the end of March - just enough to push down the public debt to GDP ratio. 

andrei@romania-insider.com

(Photo source: Dreamstime.com)

International rating agency S&P said on September 14 that it does not expect imminent risks to Romania’s near-term fiscal consolidation following the resignation of USR-PLUS ministers on September 7. “Nevertheless, should the political deadlock persist, it could disrupt progress on much-needed fiscal reform,” it concludes on a note leaving the door open to a rather broad range of scenarios.

The absorption of EU funds and fiscal reforms are key to stabilizing the country’s fiscal and external positions, the rating agency’s statement reads.

The rather positive comment may look surprising if regarded from a short-term perspective. But from a longer-term perspective, the impact of the current protracted political turmoil has a much smaller impact on the fiscal policy compared to last year when the Social Democrats were threatening to damage the public finance sustainability with bills passed on a weekly basis, such as the one on 40% rise of the public pensions.

In April this year, S&P was the last of the major three to revise the country’s outlook to stable (from negative) in response to the new Government’s fiscal consolidation plans. The agency will review the country’s ratings on October 15. Until then, the political outlook will gain more visibility.

Under the baseline scenario, S&P assumes that the Government would aim to preserve its capacity to function over the short term in order to contract this funding, “which we understand is ready to be disbursed,” the agency reads.

In the rating agency’s view, the Government passing last week the budget revision “suggests that there is [enough] capacity to execute policy.” 

andrei@romania-insider.com

(Photo source: Dreamstime.com)

Christian Gurny, Regional Leader Romania and Czech Republic, BearingPoint, talks in this interview about his Romanian business journey from a small villa in Bucharest to a team of 700 in five cities serving clients all around the world.

Berliner Christian Gurny has been working as a management and technology consultant for 25 years, first at KPMG Consulting then at BearingPoint, being on the plane almost every week. Following his interest in international activities and his strong entrepreneurial drive, he jumped at the opportunity to set up a new BearingPoint entity in Romania in 2007.

Despite a bumpy start of his journey, marked by the 2008 financial crisis, he managed to steer the business in the right direction and grow it to more than 650 people in four offices in Romania (Bucharest, Sibiu, Timisoara, Iasi) and one office in Prague. His team now consults large and medium international corporations in Germany, France, Switzerland, UK, and other countries on navigating a rapidly changing digital environment. They advise clients what technologies are most suited and implement them.

The pandemic came with plenty of challenges, one of which was changing the way BearingPoint consultants work. From weekly flights to and from clients, people suddenly found themselves working from home. And the results were surprisingly good: the business has increased, and 200 new employees have joined the team last year, Christian says.

He is now optimistic about the growth opportunities ahead as businesses have to adapt to the new digital world. But what he is most proud of is that he has created a team of like-minded people who will continue the journey that he started in Romania almost 15 years ago.

How did you start in the consulting business and how did you get to Romania?

I joined the company - named then KPMG Consulting - 25 years ago as an SAP consultant, working in production, and made my way up. In 2002, I became a partner.

As a partner, I was responsible for almost everything: winning deals, implementing, managing big projects across the globe. 

At one point, we didn’t have enough people to help us get the work done. So, in 2005-2006, we started thinking about opening a new entity to help us add more talents to our teams. I had a look at Eastern Europe, Turkey, Spain, Portugal, and other countries. In the end, we chose Romania.

Why did you choose Romania?

Romania was and still is the second biggest Eastern European country after Poland, accessing the EU at the beginning of 2007. I was convinced that the Latin heritage made it a good fit for the west.

I didn’t know any Romanian people at that point, but I came here and said, “let’s do it”. 

How did you start the business here?

We kicked off our Romanian business by providing SAP consulting, while located in a small villa in Militari, Bucharest. We needed functional consultants and technical consultants. So, I put my first big ad in Ziarul Financiar: “BearingPoint is looking for 300 people to hire this year.”

Looking back, I guess I was a bit naive. At the end of that year, we had about 20 people, because it was not easy to find candidates who fit our levels of quality and expertise. So, we started slowly. Then, in September 2008, the financial crisis hit, which slowed us down. At that time, we had 40-45 people in our team, and we had just opened our second office in Sibiu. After the crisis we started growing and expanding, we opened an office in Timisoara, then one in Iasi and Prague. Our Bucharest team has now around 450 people working from the heart of the city at Izvor 80. By the end of 2021, we expect to be more than 700 people in Romania and the Czech Republic.

What kind of consulting services do you provide?

We started with consultancy for implementing major ERP systems, and we’re still doing this. Our team contributes to delivering big global projects from different industries which run with major, state-of-the-art ERP and CRM solutions. We’re talking about the digital transformation where clients can run processes either purely cloud-based or a hybrid between on-premises and the cloud.

We also advise our clients on how to automate their processes to gain efficiency. We’ve just won an internal prize for innovation in the firm through one of our teams who use the latest Robotic Process Automation (RPA) tools.

Over the years, we have educated and certified hundreds of people over the globe to implement applications or to develop state-of-the-art solutions. We also added solutions built on the top CRM technologies, technologies that gained a lot of attention in the last years, purely cloud-based. We are also supporting and advising around all state-of-the-art cloud products.  

What makes a good advisor in the Consulting industry?

You have to see the benefits, pros, and cons of various technologies and platforms. You need to select solutions that fit best the clients’ business needs. Our team finds answers for all the opportunities and requirements out there that are very different from client to client. We have clients with really complex worldwide system landscapes. We help them analyze, build a strategic path, and get it done. We are the end-to-end management and technology experts. All is possible because at BearingPoint we work in partnership with all the major technology suppliers, developing solutions and strategies to suit our clients’ requirements.

What industries does BearingPoint Romania serve?

We serve nine industries, specifically Automotive, Banking & Capital Markets, Consumer Goods & Retail, Chemicals, Life Sciences & Resources, Communications, Media and Entertainment - Government & Public Sector, Industrial Equipment & Manufacturing, Insurance, Utilities, Postal & Transportation. We have a group of experts that understand how the segments and processes work, what areas need improvement, which legal obligations are required in specific countries, and the challenges posed by the latest trends around cryptocurrencies, to give just one example.

What differentiates BearingPoint from its competition?

We are a real trusted advisor over the complete business and digital transformation journey of our clients from the beginning to the end, which makes us different from the competition. We are very hands-on, holistic, and entrepreneurial.  

We are an independent management and technology consulting company owned by partners. So, we work beyond borders, and we get the best people to the table and get things done.

How has your team evolved since the start of the pandemic?

Since the pandemic, more than 200 people have joined us. This confirms that the way we integrate people, the way we give people a voice, shape their workplace and allow them to decide how they want to contribute to projects is the right way. People stay because they are heard and valued and respected as a part of our culture.

Due to the pandemic, BearingPoint had the Romanian offices closed from March 2020 until July this year. How did this impact your work?

In March last year, we shifted to working from home. Our clients kept trusting us and saw that they continued getting results from our contribution. This turned into the best year ever for us in terms of numbers. It was a situation that nobody expected. Since July, people can come to the office when they want, and we see them returning slowly – to share their knowledge, to welcome new joiners, to brainstorm and develop innovative solutions together. At the beginning of July, I visited all our offices within one week, welcoming everybody back. This was an amazing week finally meeting a lot of my colleagues in person again. I missed it a lot!

How do you see BearingPoint Romania’s business evolving further?

Definitely growing! We have more than 50 roles open monthly for our Romanian practice, looking for talents in the entire country. We have our eyes and ears open for new technologies. New ERP and CRM solutions are a better fit for some of our clients which is a great opportunity to extend our portfolio. Another example is the virtualization of business processes, finding benefits and improvement areas based on ERP data is an area we invest a lot in. 

This whole discussion on automatization and combination with artificial intelligence is still at the beginning. So, if you have your team ready and you have a few references, which we do, it’s easy to kick the doors open.

BearingPoint is also very active in Corporate Social Responsibility activities – what do you do?

We want to support the communities around us, and many of our employees are keen on lending a helping hand. We just launched our #EnableHelpers2021 initiative last week to support NGOs with a series of pro bono webinars. Our consultants will speak about topics ranging from digitalization to project management, organizational development, donor analysis. We offer our help to positively impact an NGO’s internal skills and competencies which, in turn, could make it easier for them to help others. Over the years, we have worked with many local non-profits around education, sustainability, civil engagement. It’s just something we really care about!

What achievement are you most proud of after almost 15 years of doing business in Romania?

If someone asked me today if I would do anything different from what I did when I started 14 years ago, I’m so proud to say no.

I never stopped believing in our people, and the people never disappointed me. They followed me over 14 years, and now I have a fantastic team of seniors on board, taking more and more responsibility who will be able to continue this journey that I started.

Even more, 2020 has been a memorable year that brought new circumstances, decisions, challenges, and opportunities. In March 2020, no one knew how 2020 will play out, but in the face of a pandemic, our team has proven that going all the way together to keep our people safe and our business stable is the biggest achievement. This makes me very proud! And grateful for our people’s contribution, resilience, and caring for each other.

(p) - This article is an advertorial.

A smart lab opened at the Constantin Stere School in the commune of Bucov, in Prahova county, north of Bucharest.

The lab is endowed with educational robots, 3D printers and scanners, and VR glasses, among others.

The cost of the project, which amounted to EUR 120,000, was undertaken by six private companies. 

The lab in Bucov, which is meant to help pupils develop STEM competencies, is the sixth of this type open in the country. The first five opened over the past two years at the Titu Maiorescu School in Bucharest’s District 3, Alexandru Ioan Cuza High School in Bucharest’s District 3, at Măgurele Science Park in Măgurele, Ilfov, at the Grigore Moisil High School in Bucharest’s District 6, and at the Alexandru Odobescu County Library in Călărași, Călărași county. 

The project was designed and implemented by INACO – Initiative for Competitiveness, with the support of six donor companies: ShapeRobotics Roma, Windaco Resources, Video Technic System, Graphtec Design, Cryptodata Tech, and Graziosa.

(Photo courtesy of Smart Lab Bucov)

simona@romania-insider.com

Five films are competing for the award of the feature competition at this year’s edition of the Bucharest International Animation Film Festival Animest.

The event, which holds its 16th edition this year, takes place between October 8 and October 17 in cinema halls and online, on the festival’s streaming platform.

The films selected in the feature competition are Florence Miailhe’s La Traversée, a production that also won a special jury mention at the Annecy festival; Félix Dufour-Laperrière’s Archipelago; Masaaki Yuasa’s Inu-oh; Marcus H. Rosenmüller and Santiago López Jover’s Welcome To Siegheilkirchen; and Michaela Pavlátová’s My Sunny Maad.

Another five awarded productions will be screened outside of the competition in various venues in Bucharest. The public will be able to see Dash Shaw’s dystopian Cryptozoo, a film that received the NEXT Innovator Award at the Sundance festival and the public’s choice award at the Berlin International Film Festival. The program of screenings also includes Rémi Chayé’s Calamity, a Childhood of Martha Jane Cannary, the winner at the Annecy 2020 festival, Yuta Murano’s Seven Days War, and Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart’s Wolfwalkers, a production nominated for an Oscar for Animation Feature.

The program of the event is available here.

(Photo: Springdt13/ Dreamstime)

simona@romania-insider.com

The students of the Transilvania University in Brașov who stay in the university’s dormitories will not pay for the accommodation for the month of November if they show proof of vaccination, the institution said.

The university decided on this as an additional measure to lower the students’ risk of getting Covid-19, it said. 

As in the previous university year, accommodation in the university’s dorms will be made at a lower capacity, of maximum of three people in one room, to comply with sanitary norms. 

In the academic year 2021-2022, the university’s 13 dormitories will accommodate around 3,300 students. 

The international students will receive accommodation only if they show proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test with a result received 72 hours before the checking in.

More than 20,000 students are enrolled at Transilvania University.

(Photo: Melinte Daniel Gabriel | Dreamstime.com)

simona@romania-insider.com

A public of more than 265,000 attended this year’s edition of Untold, the music festival taking place in Cluj-Napoca, in western Romania, the organizers said.

More than 65,000 attended the last evening of the four-day festival that ended on September 12. Overall, fans from more than 100 countries were in Cluj to enjoy the event.

A total of 75% of the attendees were vaccinated, according to the organizers. “The average recorded at Untold was impressive, being close to three times higher than the national vaccination average. This comes to confirm that this year’s Untold was a safe public place and that the festival was an incentive for those who get vaccinated,” the organizers said in a release quoted by Mediafax.

The lineup of this year’s edition included names such as David Guetta, Martin Garrix, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, Afrojack, The Script, Parov Stelar, Tyga, and Sam Feldt. Afrojack launched in Cluj the new single Anywhere.

The EU Covid-19 certificate or a rapid antigen test were needed for access to the festival.

(Photo: Manases Sándor/ Inquam Photos)

simona@romania-insider.com

The latest Eurobarometer confirms the intuitive evidence that Romanians are more exposed to hardship under the Covid-19 crisis situation given their lower incomes, wider income disparity and thinner formal safety net in the country.

Given all these, the deviation from the EU averages (in the range of 10%) can be seen as a sign of optimism.

Furthermore, the sentiment in the country has improved compared to the past winter - not as much as in Europe on average but still significantly.

As many as 26% of Romanians believe that their employment situation will be worse in 12 months, compared to only 9% in the European Union on average.

Some 47% of Romanians anticipate that the economy will recover from following the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic no sooner than 2023.

Currently, 34% of Romanians consider that the situation of their economy is "good" (+8pp versus past Eurobarometer in the winter of 2020-2021), compared to 40% at EU level (+11pp).

At the same time, the proportion of Romanians who believe that the situation of the economy is "bad" has decreased, currently to 64%, down by six percentage points compared to last winter.

At the EU level, 58% of citizens believe the economic situation is "bad", down 11 percentage points from last winter.

Romanians are also less satisfied than European citizens when it comes to the financial situation of their household and their job, respectively.

Thus, 57% of Romanians say that the financial situation of their household is "good", and 41% say that it is "bad", compared to 74% and 24%, respectively, at the EU level.

(Photo: Liskonogaleksey | Dreamstime.com)

andrei@romania-insider.com

The National Liberal Party (PNL) of prime minister Florin Citu seeks to replace the reformist head of the Senate Anca Dragu, appointed after the general elections last December under the ruling coalition agreement that was recently broken, Hotnews.ro reported.

Last week, after the reformist USR-PLUS party pulled out its ministers from the Government and withdrew support for PM Citu, the Liberals dismissed USR-PLUS state secretaries and other top officials from their former junior partner.

But it’s not going to be that easy with the head of the Senate, apparently. Not only that PNL needs a majority of votes (which it does not have) - but it also needs a reason.

And that’s how vice-speaker Alina Gorghiu (PNL) began investigating the circumstances that led to the joint sitting of the Chambers being headed by two USR-PLUS members. Apparently, this move is aimed at finding a reason for replacing Dragu. Speaking about the majority of votes, the Social Democrats may lend a helping hand to Liberals, but it is not sure. 

(Photo: Cateyeperspective/ Dreamstime)

andrei@romania-insider.com

One United Properties, one of the most active real estate developers of residential, office, and mixed projects in Bucharest (ONE ), will distribute dividends worth RON 32.5 mln (EUR 6.5 mln) and free shares, the measures already approved by the shareholders in the general meeting of September 10.

The shareholders also approved on September 10 the introduction of a new class of shares, B, to confer founding shareholders Victor Căpitanu and Andrei Diaconescu a voting power five times greater than regular shares, Ziarul Financiar reported.

According to the EGMS convening notice, 11.37% of the share capital of the company owned by Victor Căpitanu will be converted into Class B shares.

The same, and the same percentage of the capital is valid for Andrei Diaconescu. Consequently, the two will hold 59% of the total voting rights.

The company’s capitalisation is RON 2.8 bln (EUR 560 mln). The shareholders also approved to increase the capital with the amount of up to RON 228.8 mln (by issuing 1.144 bln new shares with a nominal value of RON 0.2) to incorporate approximately 80% of the issue premiums resulting from the public offer that took place between June 22 and July 2, 2021.

The new shares will be distributed in proportion of 4 new shares for every 5 shares held, to the shareholders who will hold ONE shares on the registration date December 17, 2021. 

(Photo courtesy of the company)

andrei@romania-insider.com

The biggest investment fund in Romania, Fondul Proprietatea, warns in a public statement that the management of the Bucharest Airports National Company (CNAB) might dilute its stake from 20% to 0.7% through the capitalisation of an overvalued plot of land used by its secondary airport Baneasa.

The management might shortly call a General Shareholders Meeting to approve a share capital increase based on an excessive and disputed value of RON 3.8 bln for the land inside the Baneasa airport, brought as a contribution in kind to the company's capital, Fondul Proprietatea explains.

This is the third time the process to increase the share capital was initiated since 2001, when Baneasa Airport received the land ownership certificates.

Based on this latest disputed valuation, Fondul Proprietatea might be required to make a contribution of RON 953.7 million in a potential share capital increase, failing which its 20% participation would be diluted to 0.7%, an equivalent of RON 570 million in value destruction for FP shareholders and the Romanian capital market.

Johan Meyer, CEO of Franklin Templeton Bucharest and Portfolio Manager of Fondul Proprietatea, objects to the land valuation and warns that such actions are destroying the value of CNAB.

"It's these types of actions that create severely negative perceptions among existing and potential investors and should be avoided at all costs," he explains.

Fondul Proprietatea strongly disputes the fundamentally flawed land valuation report, carried out in 2021, which attributes the value of RON 3.8 bln to the land, despite a previously approved valuation report from 2017, which had set the value of the same land at RON 336 mln.

(Photo: Francesco Scatena | Dreamstime.com)

andrei@romania-insider.com

The Romanian subsidiary of Austrian group Raiffeisen, Raiffeisen Romania, referred to the court a ruling issued by the national consumer protection authority ANPC on September 5, establishing an incorrect commercial practice of the bank and setting a RON 100,000 (EUR 20,000) fine.

Profit.ro reporting on the case implies that Raiffeisen Romania objects not only against the EUR 20,000 fine - but also against the EUR 10 mln it owes to customers, subject to the illegal practices.

At the time the ruling was issued on September 5, the Austrian bank claimed that the sums collected in excess are going to be returned to customers - but the process takes a bit longer since it is carried out manually.

Under the same ruling, ANPC proposed the bank terminate such activities and return the money illegally collected from its customers as a result of such practices within 15 days.

The money to be returned to some 14,000 customers subject to the illegal practices is estimated by ANPC representatives, quoted by Agerpres, at up to EUR 10 mln.

The illegal practice, which consisted in upping the interest rate margin on the occasion of loan restructuring, took place in 2014 and was declared by ANPC as violating the regulations in the same year.

Later in 2020, the court endorsed the ANPC’s findings meaning that Raiffeisen Romania was supposed to return the money collected illegally.

(Photo: Zerbor | Dreamstime.com)

andrei@romania-insider.com

The foreign direct investments (FDI) in Romania, calculator over a 12-month rolling period (EUR 4.72 bln as of Jul-21), is returning to EUR 5 bln typical pre-crisis value - but its structure has shifted from new equity investments to reinvested earnings.

The two types of investments have remained in balance during 2018-2019, but the balance was broken in 2020, when fewer new investors showed up, and incumbent FDI companies had to retain a higher share of their earnings to finance their operations.

Thus, in the 12-month period as of July 2021, net equity amounted to under EUR 1.6 bln, compared to EUR 4.3 bln reinvested earnings, resulting in a ratio of 36.6%.

In 2015, the net equity investments amounted to EUR 3.1 bln, versus only EUR 0.66 bln reinvested earnings.

Roughly speaking, the two types of foreign direct investments were more or less at the same levels of EUR 2.5 bln to EUR 3.5 bln in 2018-2019.

While it remains unclear whether the equity investments will recover quickly after the covid crisis ends, it is visible that the incumbent FDI investors are playing a key role in the country’s balance of payments (BoP).

According to central bank data, the revenues derived by FDI investors in Romania, on a rolling 12-month period basis, have constantly and significantly increased from under EUR 3.8 bln in 2015 to nearly EUR 8.0 bln as of July 2021.

While in the beginning, the FDI investors were reinvesting only a small part of the revenues as new FDI, the pattern has changed, particularly in 2021. 

Another insight regards the permanent impact of the FDI investors, mediated by the outflows of incomes generated - some EUR 3.7 bln over the 12-month rolling period ending Jul-21. The figure has been constant or slightly higher (EUR 4 bln per year) over the period since 2015.

(Photo: Wanida Prapan/ Dreamstime)

andrei@romania-insider.com

Romania’s long-term external debt (public and private) has increased by some EUR 3.1 bln during the first seven months of the year, to nearly EUR 95.93 bln, according to the National Bank of Romania (BNR).

The Government was entirely responsible for the rise. At the same time, the external debt service generated by the long-term debt amounted to EUR 9.3 bln (o/w EUR 2.45 bln by the Government) - resulting in gross external borrowing of EUR 12.4 bln worth of long-term loans.

 This compares to EUR 16.7 bln in the same period of 2020 and EUR 14.5 bln in 2019.

The Government alone issued EUR 7 bln worth of Eurobonds in the first seven months this year.

Supplementary, the country’s short-term external debt increased by nearly EUR 3.0 bln to EUR 36.1 bln.

Overall, Romania’s external debt has increased by EUR 6.1 bln during January-July, to nearly EUR 132 bln at the end of July (EUR 115.5 bln at the end of Jul-20). 

(Photo: Lovelyday12/ Dreamstime)

andrei@romania-insider.com

Romania’s current account (CA) deficit, namely the outflows the country must cover from foreign direct investments, borrowing, or from its own forex reserves, has widened by 69% YoY to EUR 9.06 bln in January-July, the National Bank of Romania (BNR) announced.

Based on detailed data reported by the central bank, the 12-month rolling CA gap (Aug-20 to Jul-21) has increased by 52% over the previous 12-month period and reached EUR 15.13 bln, or 6.7% of the country’s GDP in the latest four-quarter GDP figure (as of Jun-21).

The annual growth rates, both the 69% YoY reported for Jan-Jul by BNR and the 52% YoY compiled for the rolling 12-month period, reflect in part the low base formed during the lockdown period - when the country posted smaller CA gaps as the foreign trade was disrupted.

The post-lockdown revenge spending (spending above normal levels due to deferred expenditures) might have played a role as well in the high CA gap readings recently.

Nevertheless, the lockdown only slowed down temporarily the deterioration of Romania’s external balance.

Compared to the Jan-Jul 2019 (before the crisis), the CA gap increased by 43%, at an annualised rate of nearly 20% p.a.

Similarly, the 12-month CA gap accumulated in Aug-20 to Jul-21 soared by 38% compared to the 12-month period ending July 2019, at an annualised rate of 17.5% p.a.

Over the same two-year period, the nominal GDP expressed in euros edged up by only 6.4% YoY or 3.1% p.a.(to EUR 226.6 bln as of Jun-21) - a rate dwarfed by the high double-digit growth rates boosted by the CA gap. 

(Photo: Dreamstime)

andrei@romania-insider.com

The European Commission will endorse Romania's National Recovery and Resilience Plan (PNRR) by the end of this month, most likely before the visit of European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to Bucharest on September 24, according to the Radio Free Europe quoting sources familiar with the matter from within the ministry of investments and European projects.

The only delays may occur if the Romanian politicians will consider that they have something to add or modify, according to the sources. The plan will then be adopted by the European Council.

After this procedure, the first tranche of EUR 1.82 bln would arrive in Romania. Romania would receive a total of EUR 29 bln (including nearly EUR 16 bln soft loans and nearly EUR 14 bln grants) to reform important areas.

European Commission President von der Leyen's visit to Bucharest is expected on September 24. Such visits take place in all EU countries on the occasion of the adoption of the national Resilience plans.

(Photo: Paul Grecaud/ Dreamstime)

andrei@romania-insider.com

The political turmoil in Romania has already depressed the expectations of the German companies for timely implementation of the urgently needed reforms, according to a statement of AHK Romania.

The statement highlights the costs of the protracted political conflicts in terms of lost opportunities - properly allocating the funds from the EU budget, modernizing the public administration, and ultimately increasing the standard of living.

Romania needs a Government capable of living up to the huge economic challenges ranging from the Green Deal to the digital transformation of the economy while maintaining the country as a competitive investment location, the official representation of the German economy in Romania stresses. 

(Photo: Ruletkka/ Dreamstime)

andrei@romania-insider.com

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  • Offer consultancy, campaign advice, tailored promotion & innovative solutions from us to our advertising partners ➔ achieve campaign success.
  • Analyse our audiences and understand who reads us and which corporate partners could benefit from communication with and to these readers.
  • Be open to entrepreneurial thinking both from our partners, and find solutions that go along with our journalistic principles.  
  • Open new markets for us by approaching companies/industries with whom we have not yet engaged. 

What we have to offer:

  • Long-term perspective - possibility to develop as sales director for our current and future media endeavours. 
  • Flexible work set up with a minimum amount of internal meetings and results-based.
  • Work directly with our management team on setting up sales targets, drafting business strategies.  
  • Get consulting, coaching, and a fitting setup from our Business Development Partner in order to make your story a success.
  • Attractive base salary and a significant upside from the sales commission.
  • An environment where you will be heard and where you can make a difference from early on.
  • We are a remote first company: prospects and business opportunity tracking is done through our CRM, communication is done via Slack and Zoom. 
  • Be part of a diverse team with authentic relationships. We nurture a start-up culture while respecting high-quality journalism standards and structures. 

What are the requirements for the job:

  • A must: You have worked in B2B sales before. You like selling and business development, getting in touch with people, and understanding their business needs. You have the curiosity of checking on how you could help them with products or services we offer. 
  • Ideally, you have worked in the media or e-commerce industry in B2B. You have at least 4 years of experience in sales and consider yourself at least an experienced professional, if not a senior sales professional. 
  • You understand online media and journalism and value content, as well as work and media ethics. 
  • You are a team player who likes working in a remote-first environment and you adapt permanently to new circumstances. 
  • Ideally, you have a C-level network in Romania or a network of PR and media agencies that you can easily get in touch with.
  • You can be located anywhere in the world now, as remote working is the norm (time zone compatible with Romania), but post-pandemic, it would be best if you joined meetings and events in Bucharest.    

In order to apply (or if you have further questions about this role), please send us an email with your CV and including your LinkedIn profile link to hr@romania-insider.com or apply directly on LinkedIn here until October 8, 2021.

In mathematics, research does not always immediately yield tangible results; in many cases, it might take several years for asolution or new method to be put to practical use. However, there is one field where new models or algorithms face real-life tests very quickly. That field is banking. In global financial markets, the success or failure of new approaches becomes apparent within days. It is this challenge that attracted György Ottucsák and Ágnes Jónás from the fields of machine learning and evolutionary biology to Morgan Stanley in Budapest.

This year marks the 15th anniversary of Morgan Stanley in Budapest. The office opened in 2006 as a mathematical modeling center with only a handful of members. It has since grown into a major technology and analytics center within the firm’s global network, employing 2,000 people. From technology to risk management, many new teams have been added to the Budapest office, but the pioneering modeling team has also continued to grow steadily, offering new opportunities to professionals who are interested in pursuing new challenges in a quantitative role.

Today, more than 100 quantitative analysts are employed here in front-office teams supporting the firm’s sales and trading activities. Most hold degrees in mathematics, physics, computer science, or finance, but fields such as biology, chemistry, and even meteorology are also represented in these diverse teams.

Among other responsibilities, they are tasked with developing mathematical models to identify trends and patterns in markets, pricing financial products, and supporting the bank’s trading activities through algorithms. The efficiency of these quantitative models and algorithms plays an important role for the firm to operate a successful market-making business in the given asset class, be it government bonds, stocks, or foreign exchange.

From theoretical mathematics to government bonds

György Ottucsák (in picture below) is a member of the modeling team focused on government bonds, one of the most important asset classes. A graduate in computer science from Budapest University of Technology and Economics, he went on to author his Ph.D. thesis in machine learning. At the time, he was less interested in the practical application of artificial intelligence than in the theory behind it. Coding was not a major part of his life either; today, it is an essential part of his daily work. After finishing his Ph.D. studies, he started putting his skills to more practical use at various startup companies but found the most inspiring challenge of his life when he eventually joined Morgan Stanley in 2014.

György Ottucsák

“I used to apply my skills in areas such as forecasting sales of retail products. It was an interesting field, but forecasts have little direct impact on sales: our models didn’t cause people to buy more or less of a product. In financial markets, however, it’s quite different.” explains Ottucsák. “If a team develops an algorithm capable of executing a profitable trade at a sizeable volume, it will cause that opportunity to disappear from the market, since other actors will begin to imitate it. The entire market is constantly learning. If you don’t develop your algorithm fast enough, you’re certain to fall behind, so every day brings a fresh challenge. In other applications of machine learning, such as image classification, you sooner or later end up with an accuracy level where no further gains can be made. In financial markets, you’re required to progress all the time.”

Competing algorithms

Before joining Morgan Stanley, Ottucsák thought of government bonds as a stable but somewhat “uninteresting” investment. He later learned that this is far from the case. For example, Morgan Stanley is a market maker in the government bond market, trading high volumes with many counterparties while trying to minimize risk. As soon as the firm takes a position, it immediately hedges its risk by taking an opposite, risk neutralizing position. This often requires assembling a portfolio from several related assets, which is no trivial task and involves a lot of advanced mathematics. Today, this is mostly carried out automatically: algorithms are applied to pricing instruments and counterparty risk, executing trades, and finding hedging opportunities. These algorithms are operated under human supervision, and trades above a pre-determined threshold also require explicit confirmation from a human trader to be filled.

“Competition is fierce in financial markets, and technology is a key differentiator. To be able to trade efficiently and make a profit, firms develop and maintain high-quality algorithms. This requires talented quantitative professionals from diverse backgrounds. If they decide to join our Budapest office, these talented people can gain valuable domain-specific knowledge from experienced financial market experts. Building on this knowledge, they can then use their technological and mathematical skills to solve real-world problems. There are many smart people working in our team – the ratio of Ph.D. graduates is between 20 and 30 percent. We learn a lot from each other every day,” says Ottucsák.

From fruit flies to derivatives

Ágnes Jónás (in picture below) deployed her quantitative skills in a completely different domain before joining Morgan Stanley’s modeling team in 2016, having completed her Ph.D. studies in population genetics. During her research, she used time series models to understand how individuals in a population adapt to environmental change. Among other species, she studied variants of the influenza virus – which proved to be a particularly interesting field considering the subsequent pandemic. However, she spent most of her time studying fruit flies. These are fast-breeding and easy to keep in labs, and as a result ideal for studying large samples and seeing how the genome of a species evolves over hundreds of generations. At first glance, fruit flies have little in common with financial markets. However, the methods of study in these distinct fields show many similarities.

Ágnes Jónás

“There are many parallels between population genetics and my current field of pricing derivative products and counterparty risk,” explains Jónás. “We use similar models to simulate markets in finance and population dynamics in biology. In the latter, we are studying how changes in the environment affect the genome of a population. In the former, we want to determine how changing certain parameters can affect market variables, such as the price of crude oil. And we use similar programming languages in both fields.”

Smart and open people from all over the world: belief in the power of communal knowledge

Coding skills are vital to pursue mathematical modeling. In this field, it is not enough to be an exceptional theorist; if someone is unable to instantly “script” their ideas, it slows down the workflow. Ágnes Jónás gained the necessary coding skills during her biology studies. One of the main reasons she decided to put them to use at Morgan Stanley is that the firm offers an inspiring, multicultural environment, not unlike what she experienced during her Ph.D. studies.

“In the doctoral school, I got used to working with different scholars and students from diverse backgrounds and origins, including physicists, mathematicians, and biologists from all over the world. At Morgan Stanley Budapest, I can be part of a similar community, which is important to me. I also like to keep in touch with former colleagues who have been redeployed to other global offices including New York, London, and Tokyo. It’s exciting to know I have the opportunity to pursue an international career within the firm,” says Jónás.

Campus programs, math lessons to female students

The philosophy of giving back is one of Morgan Stanley’s core values: employees are encouraged to contribute to the communities in which they live and work. For some members of the mathematical modeling team, the best way to give back is through education. György Ottucsák has been teaching information theory and data science at his alma mater since 2008. He also leads the “school team” coordinating Morgan Stanley’s outreach programs at Budapest University of Technology, including – guidance related to the pandemic permitting – internships, guest lectures, meet-ups, and attending job fairs.

For Ágnes Jónás, the increased participation of women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields is an important issue. She is an active contributor to the Women in Quantitative Finance network of the firm’s employees. She also strives to make the STEM fields more attractive to young women by tutoring the next generation. Among many other Morgan Stanley employees in Budapest, she is a member of the mentoring team that teaches mathematics and coding to female high school students as part of the SMARTIZ program, an extracurricular education initiative launched by the Association of Hungarian Women in Science (NaTE) with support from Morgan Stanley.

Interested in exploring what a Quant career at Morgan Stanley could look like for you? Find out more here.

(p) - This article is an advertorial.

Astra Film Festival, an event dedicated to documentary film, announced the ten awards offered at this year's edition.

The jury, made up of cultural personalities from Romania and abroad, evaluated 41 films entered in the four competition sections. 

Romanian production Us against us, directed by Andra Tarara, was named the Best Film of the Romania Section. The jury took note of "the collaborative work of two filmmakers from different generations, and the communication they achieved, father and daughter, through the medium of film."

The award for Best Director of the Romania Section went to Olga Lucovnicova for the film My Uncle Tudor "for the artistically organic way the director used her camera to explore her childhood memories and her traumatic relationship with her uncle."

The jury also awarded a Special Mention to the film Occasional Spies, directed by Oana Giurgiu "for the original manner in which the director re-enacted an unknown chapter of WWII, blending the personal with the wider historical context."

The best documentary in the New Voices in Documentary Cinema Section was awarded to a production from Burkina Faso - Night Nursery, directed by Moumouni Sanou. The jury noted "a reality portrayed with a lot of honesty, sensibility and compassion – without any obvious interference from the director, nor from the camera. Given this is the New Voices Competition, we felt it's even more appropriate to give the award to a first-time filmmaker, encouraging him to keep thriving in telling unique, compelling stories."

A Special Mention was also given to Frédéric Mainçon's For Your Comfort and Your Safety for the original subject "that has never been tackled before and for the way the film managed to give a voice to the unseen faces guarding our museums."

The award for best documentary of the Central and Eastern Europe Section was given to Martin Páv's Wolves at the Border for the way the director "skillfully crafts a story that explores themes of ecological and environmental change, distrust of outsiders, and how polarized opinions and entrenched perspectives undermine opportunities for understanding and collaboration."

The film Nun of Your Business, directed by Ivana Marinić Kragić, was awarded a Special Mention because it "sheds light on an often-hidden world under forms of apparent normality, such as love between women in convents. She creatively incorporates narrative resources of fiction and animation film into the language of the documentary."

The production Milkless, directed by Lidia Ilie, was named the best documentary of the DocSchool Section.  The award for Best Director of the DocSchool Section was given to director Maja Novaković's Then Comes the Evening. The DocSchool Section also awarded a Special Mention to Dear Darkness, directed by Samuel N. Schwarz, for the way "the film explores the experience of blindness in a visual, imaginative way, opening a window to a different way of experiencing the world."

(Photo courtesy of Astra Film Festival)

simona@romania-insider.com

Mirela Tanc, who teaches Romanian at the Oltea Doamna Gymnasium School in Oradea, is one of the 50 finalists for the Global Teacher Prize 2021, Agerpres reported.

The Global Teacher Prize is a USD 1 million award granted annually by the Varkey Foundation to “an exceptional teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to their profession.”

Tanc has incorporated video games like Minecraft and Fortnite, the games her students are most interested in, into a wide variety of subjects, a presentation of the prize finalists explains. “She has even shown how science can illuminate ideas in literature by asking students to create sequences from books wholly within Minecraft. For Mirela, the emotional component of teaching – and the motivation of students – is just as important as the academic component.” 

If she wins the prize, she plans to use part of the funds to help Romanian educators improve their teaching practice through training courses and educational camps.  

The 50 finalists are listed here.

The winner will be chosen by the Global Teacher Prize Academy made up of head-teachers, educational experts, commentators, journalists, public officials, tech entrepreneurs, company directors and scientists from around the world.

(Photo: Andreaobzerova | Dreamstime.com)

simona@romania-insider.com

Real estate developer Element Industrial announced on Monday, September 13, the start of a new logistics project in Braila, eastern Romania. The total investment in ELI Park Braila exceeds EUR 25 million.

The logistics park is located on an 11-hectare plot of land in the Zona Libera Braila area. It will be developed in three phases and will have a gross leasable area of 50,000 sqm.

“We’ve recently received the building permit for the first phase of 10,000 sqm, an excellent option for distribution, production or logistics, with direct access to E584,” said Andrei Jerca, Managing Director, Element Industrial.

“Braila has all the advantages that a business needs: positioning in the road-naval junction, workforce, the opening given by the bridge over the Danube and, last but not least, local authorities that make every effort to attract investors in the area,” he added.

The concept in Braila is a flexible one, adapted to the demand in the area. The minimum leasable units start from 850 sqm, each served by a dock and drive-in, an office area and dedicated parking lots.

Element Industrial is one of the most active Romanian developers in the logistics market. It is working on a series of projects under the ELI Parks brand, logistics parks with areas between 50-60,000 sqm, in Bucharest, Bacau, Braila or Ploiesti, as well as warehouses with smaller areas, grouped under the name ELI Xpress in cities such as Bucharest or Pitesti.

irina.marica@romania-insider.com

(Photo source: the company)

Romania's Tibi Useriu participates this year in the Tor de Geants endurance trail race in Italy. With a total length of 330 km, the race combines long distance with the individual style of runners. It is "the first of this kind to cover an entire region, running along its spectacular paths at the foot of the highest Four-Thousanders in the Alps and through the Gran Paradiso Natural Park and the Mont Avic Regional Park," according to the official website.

The race takes place between September 12 and September 18, and participants must complete it in a maximum of 150 hours.

"I'm back at Tor de Geants. It's a great competition, which I missed 3 times for various reasons. Nothing teaches you more than defeat. My theory is that you always have to go back to the place of the trauma to try again. That's what I'm going to do - I will give my best, trying to break the curse. It will be beautiful, it will be difficult, everything will test our limits," Tibi Useriu wrote on Facebook.

"Ice Man" Tibi Useriu won the 6633 Arctic Ultra race three times, most recently in 2018. The 6633 Arctic Ultra is one of the hardest ultra-marathons in the world.

irina.marica@romania-insider.com

(Photo source: Facebook/Tasuleasa Social)

SeedBlink, the Bucharest-based investment platform specializing in sourcing, vetting, funding and scaling European tech startups, has appointed Carmen Sebe as CEO. She joined the platform as a partner in January 2020.

Andrei Dudoiu, co-founder and former CEO of the company, becomes managing partner and chairman of the board of directors, while Ionuț Patrahau is also managing partner and responsible for corporate development. Radu Georgescu will continue as chairman of the advisory board.

SeedBlink has also hired two senior executives for the positions of CFO and CTO.

Dorina Tudor, a manager with 25 years of experience in finance, is the platform's Chief Financial Officer, a position she has held since September 7. Previously, she held similar positions at Dr. Leahu Clinics, Gecad Group and Avangate.

Geoge Simion, a specialist with 17 years of IT experience, became SeedBlink's Chief Technology Officer in August. Previously, he held various management positions, including Software Engineering Director at Verifone, 2CheckOut and Coinzone.

Both George Simion and Dorina Tudor will report to Carmen Sebe.

These hires follow SeedBlink's EUR 3 million Series A funding round led by Catalyst II Romania, with the additional participation of institutional investors and SeedBlink's campaign on its platform. 

(Photo courtesy of the company)

simona@romania-insider.com

Romanian Adrian Sulca claimed the gold medal at the Junior European Judo Championships, in the -73kg category. The competition was held in Luxembourg between September 9 and September 12.

To reach the final, Sulcă managed to defeat Russian Kantemir Khazhmetov in the first contest, and then Moldavian Ion Tonofrei, Spain’s Javier Pena Insausti, and Italian Vincenzo Pelligra in the following events.

In the final, the Romanian athlete, trained by Emil Morar, defeated Jus Mecilosek from Slovenia.

According to local Agerpres, 351 competitors from 43 nations entered the competition this year.

irina.marica@romania-insider.com

(Photo source: Facebook/Federatia Romana de Judo)

Romanian production Imaculat, directed by Monica Stan and George Chiper-Lillemark, was awarded the Lion of the Future – “Luigi De Laurentiis” Venice Award for a Debut Film at this year’s Venice International Film Festival.

It received the award from a jury chaired by Uberto Pasolini and comprised of Martin Schweighofer and Amalia Ulman.

The Golden Lion for Best Film went to Audrey Diwan’s L’événement (Happening), where French-Romanian actress Anamaria Vartolomei holds the lead role.

It received the award from a jury chaired by Bong Joon Ho and comprised of Saverio Costanzo, Virginie Efira, Cynthia Erivo, Sarah Gadon, Chloé Zhao, and Alexander Nanau, whose documentary about the journalistic investigation that followed the fire at Colectiv club in Bucharest in October 2015 received two Oscar nominations earlier this year.

The Silver Lion – Grand Jury Prize went to Paolo Sorrentino’s È Stata La Mano Di Dio (The Hand of God), while Penélope Cruz received the Coppa Volpi for Best Actress for her performance in Pedro Almodóvar’s Madres Paralelas (Parallel Mothers) and John Arcilla the Coppa Volpi for Best Actor for the role in Erik Matti’s On The Job: The Missing 8.

The list of the awards of the 78th Venice Film Festival is available here.

(Photo: Adriano Castelli/ Dreamstime)

simona@romania-insider.com

Almost 3 million preschoolers and students in Romania start the new school year today, September 13, but not all return to in-person classes. Schools are open in the localities where the 14-day COVID-19 incidence rate is below six per thousand inhabitants. If this threshold is exceeded, students move to online learning in that locality.

According to education minister Sorin Cimpeanu, students start the school online in 12 localities where the infection rate exceeded six per thousand inhabitants on Friday, September 10. Six of them are in the county of Satu Mare, two are in Arad county, one in Teleorman, one in Sibiu, one in Salaj, and one in Dolj.

But there are also schools with infrastructure problems where children start the new school year online, the minister said, according to Hotnews.ro. Some still have water supply problems, while others don’t have a functional heating system.

“2,400 students study in the 12 localities where the infection rate went over six per thousand inhabitants on Friday. There are also the schools that have infrastructure problems. Eight schools from Bucharest will use the online system,” minister Cimpeanu said, according to B1tv.

“There are 2,723 students in Bucharest who will have to study online this week. There are another 2,000 students in the country who, due to infrastructure problems, remain online and 2,400 in the localities where the infection rate has been exceeded. Nationwide, more than 7,000 students start the school online, at least in the first week,” he added.

The health authorities have also established a set of rules for the new school year to prevent and control the spread of COVID-19. For example, classrooms should be rearranged to ensure at least a one-meter distance between the desks. Wearing a protective mask is mandatory inside the school, but not in the schoolyard, and the teaching staff and students should use the disinfectants provided by the school as often as possible. The classrooms should also be disinfected and ventilated.

Plus, in Bucharest, wearing a mask is mandatory near the schools.

According to data provided by the Ministry of Education, 193,430 employees of the national education system got vaccinated against COVID-19, representing an overall vaccination rate of 61%. Last Friday, minister Cimpeanu said that more than 15% of students also received a COVID-19 vaccine.

The 2021-2022 school year has 34 weeks, ending June 10, 2022. It has two semesters: one between September 13 and December 22, 2021, and a second one between January 10 and June 10, 2022. All students will have a winter break (which this year is also the break between semesters) from December 23, 2020, to January 9, 2022. The spring break is scheduled for April 15-May 1, 2021, while the summer break will start on June 11, 2022.

irina.marica@romania-insider.com

(Photo source: Inquam Photos/Sabin Cirstoveanu)

The fourth wave of the pandemic in Romania will not be milder than the previous ones, said the manager of the "Marius Nasta" Institute of Pneumoftiziology in the Capital, Dr Beatrice Mahler, in an interview with television station Digi24.

She said that she expects 10,000 daily cases of COVID-19 in October, from 2,500 currently.

She also predicted that two weeks after school starts, the number of daily cases would double.

Secretary of State Raed Arafat, who manages the extraordinary situation caused by the pandemic, admitted that Romania could reach the 10,000 figure.

"This time, however, we have a percentage of vaccinated people and a percentage of people who have gone through the disease, we have 31% vaccinated, and we still have at least 15-20% who have gone through the disease," he said on a more optimistic note.

Prime minister Florin Citu requested the doubling of the number of intensive care beds at the national level for COVID-19 patients.

On Sunday (September 12), during a video conference with several ministers, prefects, and other authorities, the head of government admitted that the epidemiological situation is worrying in several counties.

(Photo: Octav Ganea/ Inquam Photos)

andrei@romania-insider.com

The leader of the Romanian Liberal Party (PNL), Ludovic Orban, stated while presenting his program as a candidate for the party's leadership, that he is ready to return as head of the Government as well.

"I am ready to take on the responsibility of leading the Government," Orban told the Liberals in Vrancea, quoted by G4media.ro. Incumbent prime minister Florin Citu, his rival for the party leadership, is under pressure from the Liberals' junior partner USR-PLUS.

Orban added that the party could no longer afford to waste time as soon as this political crisis was overcome.

Asked if Florin Cîţu could be replaced by a prime minister from USR PLUS, Orban said: "No way."

The question was asked after Dacian Cioloş declared, during a debate with the other candidates for the USR-PLUS leadership, that the best way for USR-PLUS reformists to secure that reforms will be pursued is that they nominate the future prime minister.

During the same event, Cioloş declared that he no longer wants "USR PLUS to be in the shadow of PNL".

The PNL leader stressed, however, that "the restoration of the coalition is done based on the existing agreement," G4media.ro reported. Possibly certain details that prompted problems in the past might be amended, he admitted.

(Photo: Gov.ro)

andrei@romania-insider.com

Romania’s car production increased by 16% in the first eight months of the year, compared to the same period of 2020, to 286,000 units, according to data from the Romanian Automobile Manufacturers Association, quoted by Economica.net.

More than 172 thousand were produced by Dacia and 113 thousand by Ford.

Three of the models produced in Romania ranked last month among the top 10 best-selling cars in Europe Dacia Sandero (first), Duster (8th), and Ford Puma (9th).

In July-August, the car output in Romania contracted by 9.4% YoY to 49,375 units.

(Photo: Media.ford.com)

andrei@romania-insider.com

TeraPlast Group (TRP) concluded an agreement with Brikston Construction Solutions to take over a polyethylene films production line located in Sighisoara.

The assets acquired by TeraPlast, located at present in Sighisoara, will be transferred to the Somplast plant in Nasaud, the latter being in a process of reshaping after the acquisition.

The flexible packaging production of Somplast (part of TRP) will continue its activity at Nasaud in the current location, which from now on will host the new production line taken over from Brikston.

Furthermore, the rigid PVC recycling factory of the Group will be relocated to the Nasaud plant.

The processing capacity of the rigid PVC factory is tripling as part of this year’s expansion investments.

Somplast’s location at Nasaud offers plenty of space for development with 20.000 square meters of halls that need to be reshaped. The renovation implies both demolition and remodelling works for the auxiliary spaces.

(Photo: Teraplast Facebook Page)

andrei@romania-insider.com

Regional real estate developer and owner CTP, specializing in logistics properties, purchased about 112,000 square meters of industrial space in Romania from its rival Zacaria Industrial in a transaction estimated at over EUR 50 mln, Economica.net reported.

The developer is thus approaching the target of two million square meters of warehouses held on the local market.

The new properties are located in the cities of Craiova, a new city covered by CTP, Sibiu, Arad and Oradea.

Glowalworth was also interested in the projects in Sibiu and Craiova, and the operation reached the table of the Competition Council at the end of 2019.

In Arad and Sibiu, CTP consolidates and expands its existing portfolio. Oradea becomes a nodal point on the CTP map, thanks to the new spaces purchased but also in the light of the development of a cargo terminal of Oradea Airport.

(Photo: Ronstick/ Dreamstime)

andrei@romania-insider.com

Greek group OTE has completed the acquisition of the rest of 30% stake in Telekom Romania Mobile Communications (TRMC - formerly Cosmote) from Telekom Romania Communications(TRC), thus paving the way for the sale of TRC to Orange.

The price amounted to EUR 58.9 mln, slightly below the previously estimated EUR 59.5 mln, Profit.ro reported.

The deal involving the 30% stake in TRMC still not owned by OTE was requested by the European Commission as a condition for approving the sale of Telekom Romania Communications to Orange. Or else, Orange would have gained excessive power in the mobile telecom market, the EC argued.

The European Commission approved conditionally, in July, the sale of the 54% stake held by OTE in Telekom Romania Communications, Telekom's fixed networks division, to Orange Romania. The rest of 46% in TRM is owned by the Romanian state.

The total economic value of the company was estimated at EUR 497 mln (100% share), including the fixed-mobile converged customer base.

This corresponds to a purchase price to be paid by Orange of EUR 268 mln, adjusted for the excess or deficit of net cash and considering the adjustments that normally take place at the end of the transaction. 

(Photo: Tobias Arhelger/ Dreamstime)

andrei@romania-insider.com

Bulgarian group Еurohold announced that “it is engaged in advanced discussions with European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD)” for the sale of a minority stake in its insurance arm Euroins Insurance Group (EIG). Both parties approved the project.

The deal remains subject to an agreement on and execution of final transaction documents and satisfaction of contractual conditions to closing.

EBRD will contribute EUR 30 mln through a capital increase, and Еurohold will also participate in the capital increase with a further equity capital injection of up to EUR 12 mln.

Euroins Insurance Group will use the raised funds predominantly for the development and growth of the largest insurance entity within the group - Euroins Romania Asigurare Reasigurare, and additionally, to strengthen the holding’s market positions in Southeast Europe.

As for the Romanian subsidiary of EIG, Ziarul Financiar outlines an ongoing EUR 24.3 mln capital increase from the parent group to be endorsed on September 15, on the top of two similar capital increases worth a combined EUR 25.5 mln operated recently.

EIG also prepares a EUR 8.1 mln capital injection to be financed out of a subordinated loan. All these would result in a EUR 57.8 mln capital contribution of EIG to its Romanian subsidiary over the past year.

(Photo: Lovelyday12/ Dreamstime)

andrei@romania-insider.com

Romania’s net average wage remained roughly flat in July compared to June and edged up by 5.1% compared to July 2020, according to the statistics office INS.

In real terms, corrected for inflation (4.95% YoY in July), the net wage thus edged up a small 0.2% yoy - the smallest annual advance since 2013.

In absolute terms, the Romanian employees received an average net wage of RON 3,545 (EUR 721). The winners of the past 12 months in terms of incomes are the employees in the sectors of IT, banking, utilities, air transportation and oil& mining.

Their wages are well above average (ranging from +46%/mining to +145%/IT), and they have increased by between 7.1% YoY (mining) and 14.1% YoY (air transportation).

Only for the employees in the air transportation industry, the advance of the past twelve months was partly caused by the (-4.1% YoY) decrease during the lockdown period last year.

The wages in the sectors of IT, banking, utilities and oil&mining were thus not touched by the crisis last year, and they enjoy a healthy outlook as well.

In contrast, the employees in the sector of education and (surprisingly) pharmaceutical industry are worse-off post-crisis.

Their wages, below average, have contracted by 10.6% YoY and 6.0% yoy respectively and are now 3.9% below average respectively 5.7% above average.

In the sector of education, however, this means an improvement compared to previous years. Over the past 12 months ending July 2020, the wages in education had surged by 19% YoY. 

(Photo: Shutterstock)

andrei@romania-insider.com

The spot price on Romania’s day-ahead market (DAM) more than tripled in August, compared to the same month last year, to RON 554.6 per MWh (from RON 183.2 per MWh), according to the monthly report posted by the market operator OPCOM, quoted by Agerpres.

The total value of transactions was RON 1.042 bln, 203.09% more compared to August 2020 (when it was RON 343.9 mln).

The volume of transactions remained steady (-0.5% YoY) at 1.844 TWh.

The ratio of the DAM transactions per end consumption was 39.3%, down 5pp you.

(Photo: Pexels)

andrei@romania-insider.com

 
Romania’s headline inflation rate rose to 5.3% YoY in August 2021, from 5% YoY in July, the statistics office INS announced.

The energy prices contributed 3pp to the total annual inflation, as the electricity price surged by 18% in January and the natural gas price by 24% as of July - which added to the gradual recovery of the fuel prices.

The non-food goods prices rose by 7.9% YoY, the food prices by 2.7% YoY, and the services fees by 3.0% YoY. In August alone, consumer prices increased by only 0.24% mom.

The inflation rate since the beginning of the year is 4.7% YTD. The National Bank of Romania increased its inflation forecast for the end of this year to 5.6%.

The average rate of consumer prices in the last 12 months (September 2020 - August 2021) compared to the previous 12 months (September 2019 - August 2020), sometimes defined as trend inflation, is 3.3%, and it has gradually advanced from 2.6% at the end of 2020.

The harmonized index of consumer prices, which measures the rise in prices based on the standardized Eurostat consumer basket, is only 4.0% YoY as of August. 

(Photo: Shutterstock)

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The Bucharest Stock Exchange (BVB) announced that, following the regular meeting of the Indices Commission on September 9, it changed the composition of the main index BET and the BET-TR index (which tracks the dividends in addition to the price of the shares) to include the shares of two more companies in their structure.

The two companies are Transport Trade Services (TTS) and One United Properties (ONE), two companies that conducted initial public offerings (IPOs) earlier this year.

TTS was listed in June following an IPO, having at the end of September 9 a capitalization of RON 609 mln (EUR 120 mln).

ONE started trading on BVB in July, with a capitalization of RON 2.8 bln (EUR 560 mln) today.

At the same time, the BVB Indices Commission decided to include One United Properties, Transport Trade Services, BRK Financial Group (BRK), Compa Sibiu (CMP), Romcarbon Buzău (ROCE) and Farmaceutica Remedia (RMAH) in the indices of the 25 most liquid shares - BET-XT and BET-XT-TR, but also the exclusion of Turbomecanica (TBM) from these indices.

(Photo: Octav Ganea/ Inquam Photos)

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A number of 15 companies traded at the Bucharest Stock Exchange (BVB), including two blue chips (Medlife and Teraplast) and real estate developer Impact, boasted price hikes in excess of 100% over the past 12 months, according to calculations of Ziarul Financiar daily.

Over the same 12-month period, the BET index, which includes the most liquid 17 shares, registered an advance of 35.5%.

ZF calculated the price gains over the past year as of September 9 and filtered out the stocks with a total turnover of under RON 1 mln (EUR 0.2 mln) that typically feature high volatility.

The shares of the construction materials manufacturer TeraPlast Bistrita (TRP) brought investors a yield of 265.2% in the last 12 months. Shares worth RON 579 mln were traded. TeraPlast is part of the BET index and is 46.83% owned by entrepreneur Dorel Goia, while the Pillar II pension fund managed by NN Pensii holds 12% of the company's share capital.

The shares of MedLife (M), an integrator of private medical services, rose by 173.5% in the last 12 months, amid transactions worth RON 289 mln. Among the largest shareholders are Mihail Marcu, Chairman of the Board and CEO (15.8%), Nicolae Marcu (10.7%), Mihaela Gabriela Cristescu (14%) and the NN Pensii (12.8%).

The shares of real estate developer Impact Developer & Contractor (IMP), listed on the main market of the Stock Exchange, also brought a significant return to investors: 151.3%, amid transactions worth RON 60.6 mln. Impact is 60% controlled by businessman Gheorghe Iaciu, while Andrici Adrian holds 15.9% of the share capital.

(Photo: Dreamstime)

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Emma Raducanu wrote a new chapter in tennis history on Saturday, September 11, as she won the US Open title at the age of 18. Raducanu beat 19-year old Canadian Leylah Fernandez, in a surprise final.

She thus became the youngest grand slam champion in 17 years and the first British woman to win a grand slam title since Virginia Wade's Wimbledon victory in 1977. 

Coming from the qualifying stage, Emma Raducanu won the last grand slam tournament of the year without conceding a set, which is a first in the tournament’s history.

Raducanu was widely praised for her performance and even received a congratulation letter from Queen Elizabeth.

While she is now competing under the British flag, Emma Raducanu was born in Toronto, Canada, to a Romanian father and a Chinese mother. Her parents, who work in the financial sector, moved to England when Emma was just two. She started playing tennis at the age of five and two of her idols are Romanian Simona Halep and Chinese Na Li.

The US Open victory will take Emma Raducanu from 150th place in the WTA ranking of the best women’s tennis players in the world to number 23. She will also get a USD 2.5 million prize for her performance.

Raducanu is the second player of Romanian origin to win the US Open in recent years after Canadian Bianca Andreescu, who won the tournament in 2019.

editor@romania-insider.com

(Photo source: usopen.org; Photo by: Andrew Ong/USTA)

Transilvania International Film Festival (TIFF) will return with a new edition in Oradea this month. The program includes premiere screenings, new releases and surprise meetings with filmmakers of the moment.

The event, scheduled for September 17-19, will also bring to Oradea a special selection of Romanian movies. Thus, during the festival, Unirii Square, the Baroque Palace, the Regina Maria Theater and the Oradea State Philharmonic will host special screenings that will also be attended by Romanian directors and actors.

Luca, the latest film directed by Horațiu Mălăele, will open the Oradea edition of TIFF with a special screening scheduled for Friday, September 17, in Unirii Square. Actors István Teglas and Andi Vasluianu will also be present.

On the same day, Andrei Gruzsnicki’s Dupa 40 de zile/No Rest for the Old Lady will run for the first time in Oradea at the State Philharmonic. Meanwhile, Radu Muntean’s Întregalde will be screened at the Regina Maria Theater. 

The program also includes other top Romanian movies such as #dogpoopgirl, the film that brought filmmaker Andrei Huțuleac the Romanian Days Award for Best Debut at TIFF 2021 and the Grand Prize at the Moscow International Film Festival; Bogdan George Apetri’s Neidentificat/Unidentified; Ruxandra Ghitescu’s Otto the Barbarian, which won the Romanian Days Award for Best Feature Film at TIFF 2021; Berliner directed by Marian Crisan; and the now famous documentary Romania salbatica/Wild Romania.

The complete program and access tickets to TIFF Oradea 2021 are available here.

irina.marica@romania-insider.com

(Photo source: the organizers)

Most Romanian parents would like their children to return to in-person classes in the new school year, according to a survey by local recruitment platform BestJobs. Meanwhile, the online/at-home only option would be the least desired.

The new school year starts on September 13 in Romania.

About 76% of the employees who participated in the survey prefer in-person classes for their children. Only 8% would choose the online/at-home option for safety reasons, while the rest said they would agree with a hybrid system, alternating virtual learning and in-class learning.

41% of parents worry that online classes could lead to learning gaps due to a lack of direct student-teacher interaction. At the same time, 36% of them fear that schools have not taken proper hygiene measures and that the risk of COVID-19 infection is still high. Thus, parents believe schools should be better prepared for the new school year, as the pandemic is no longer a new thing.

So far, only a third of the employees who took part in the survey said they had been informed about how the new school year will start. 66% are still waiting for the start of school to have all the necessary information about how their children will learn.

Online learning also forces parents to make changes in their lives. For example, 58% of them said that, as they know from last year's experience, they will need to dedicate more time to help their children with homework, which will reflect on their professional life. At the same time, 28% said that they would have to work from home to take care of their children, and 19% would have to hire a nanny or get help from family members because remote work is not an option.

According to the same survey, 61% of the employees whose children start school on September 13 have already purchased the necessary school supplies, at least partially, while 20% are waiting for the teaching staff to tell them what supplies to buy.

When it comes to the budget, 44% of parents plan to spend between RON 500 and RON 1,000 for school supplies, 34% expect to spend less than RON 500, and 22% have allocated over RON 1,000.

The survey was conducted between August 23 and September 6 on a sample of 1,044 internet users in Romania.

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(Photo source: Inquam Photos/Virgil Simonescu)

According to Raed Arafat, the head of the Department for Emergency Situations (DSU), 92.8% of the COVID-19 deaths registered in Romania in the past week were among unvaccinated people, and 5% among those not fully vaccinated.

Also, 80.4% of the confirmed COVID-19 cases were reported in unvaccinated individuals, local Agerpres reported.

Arafat quoted data from the weekly analysis carried out by the National Institute of Public Health (INSP) for the period August 30 - September 5.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, 86% of all deaths were reported among people over 60, but I remind you that in the last period we also had younger people who died, who had no comorbidities and were not vaccinated,” Arafat said during a press conference on September 9.

He also referred to the rising number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the country. For example, Romania had only 31 new cases of infection on July 1 and 2,226 on September 9.

“This growth is important and has led to an increase in the number of people admitted to intensive care units (ATI), from 67 patients in ATI at the beginning of July to 523 patients in ATI today,” Raed Arafat said.

Thus, the authorities are working to make more ATI beds available in local hospitals, as the number of COVID-19 cases is expected to continue rising in the coming weeks.

About 5.3 million people were vaccinated in Romania by September 9, and most of them (5.19 million) were fully vaccinated. However, according to the official report, only 9,028 people received a COVID-19 vaccine in Romania in 24 hours.

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(Photo source: Gov.ro)

Romania’s National Committee for Emergency Situations (CNSU) updated on September 9 the list of countries with epidemiological risk. The countries/areas are rated as green, yellow or red, according to their COVID-19 incidence rate. The new list is valid starting September 12, at 00:00.

Several countries/territories were moved to the red travel list, namely Bulgaria, Norway, Lithuania, Slovenia, Bermuda, Sri Lanka, and Guernsey, according to Digi24.

Meanwhile, countries such as Portugal, Libya, Lebanon, Tunisia, Mauritius, Monaco, and Iceland were moved from the red to the yellow list following a decrease in the COVID-19 incidence rate.

At the same time, countries such as Germany, Croatia, and Latvia also joined the yellow list, but due to an increase in infection cases. They were previously rated as green countries.

The United Arab Emirates, Gibraltar and Honduras are now on the green list.

The updated lists are available here.

Bulgaria also revised its entry requirements for Romanians beginning September 1.

irina.marica@romania-insider.com

(Photo source: Trazvan/Dreamstime.com)

Romanian prime minister Florin Citu announced on Thursday, September 9, that the Government extended the state of alert by 30 days, maintaining the previous provisions. However, one amendment in the regime of restrictions is to extend the validity of antigen tests to 48 hours.

"The state of alert is extended by 30 days. (...) There are no changes compared to what we have had so far, except for one: for antigen tests, we extend the validity from 24 to 48 hours," Florin Citu announced, according to News.ro.

Romania reported more than 2,000 new COVID-19 cases on September 9, for the third consecutive day. A total of 2,226 cases were confirmed on Thursday, out of 39,228 tests (PCR and rapid antigen tests).

According to the official report, almost 4,000 COVID-19 patients were admitted to hospitals in the country on September 9, 523 of them to intensive care units.

More than 1.11 million COVID-19 cases were recorded in Romania since the start of the pandemic, and about 1.06 million patients have recovered.

andrei@romania-insider.com

(Photo source: Gov.ro)

The governmental crisis is not "absolutely at all worrying" because Romania has a Government that goes further, President Klaus Iohannis stated on Thursday (September 9), while on a visit to Switzerland, Ziarul Financiar reported.

On the same day, an ad-hoc coalition formed by the Social Democrats (PSD, opposition) and the Liberals (PNL, at rule, minority) decided to postpone indefinitely the vote on the no-confidence motion filed by the reformist USR-PLUS that protests against lack of progress in justice reforming and transparency in the use of public money.

"The Government issue is not at all worrying. We have a Government that goes further. (...) From this point of view, no worries," Klaus Iohannis said.

President Iohannis has constantly backed prime minister Florin Citu both as the head of the executive and as a candidate in the internal elections to be held by the Liberal party (PNL) on September 25.

The PNL leader, Ludovic Orban, who also serves as the head of the Chamber of Deputies (for the time being), stated that the decision to postpone the debate and vote on the no-confidence motion "is contrary to the constitutional and regulatory provisions."

The collapse of Romania's coalition government could disrupt fiscal consolidation efforts, which are key to resolving the negative outlook on Romania's BBB- rating, Fitch rating agency said in a note sent on September 7.

andrei@romania-insider.com

(Photo source: Presidency.ro)

Romanian prime minister Florin Citu declared that if the Constitutional Court rules in favour of the Government [in its conflict with the Parliament], he will demand the resignation of the speakers of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate.

"Yesterday, I notified the Constitutional Court. If the Court rules in our favour, I will demand the resignation of the president of the Chamber of Deputies and the president of the Senate," Florin Citu said after the government meeting on Thursday (September 9), News.ro reported.

He argued that if he won, the two dignitaries should step down.

The executive asked the Constitutional Court to rule on an alleged legal conflict of a constitutional nature between the Romanian Parliament, on the one hand, and the Romanian Government, on the other hand, born from the violation of constitutional provisions regarding the no-confidence motion.

Specifically, the conflict is generated by the alleged breach of the constitutional provisions regarding how the motion was initiated, submitted, and communicated to the Government.

andrei@romania-insider.com

(Photo source: Gov.ro)

The no-confidence motion filed by the reformist party USR-PLUS and the radical party AUR against the Government of prime minister Florin Citu was presented in a joint sitting of the Parliament’s chambers on September 9.

However, the Parliament’s leading body decided to go ahead with the debates and the vote on the motion only after the Constitutional Cort issues an opinion, Hotnews.ro reported.

MPs of the Liberal Party (PNL, ruling, minority) loyal to PM Cit, backed by the opposition Social Democrats, forced a decision in this regard, while the signatories of the motion accused that this breaches the constitutional provisions.

AUR leader George Simion concluded the joint sitting by reminding that the Constitution provides that the no-confidence motions are supposed to be subject to a vote three days after they are presented in the joint sitting of the Parliament. The constitutional provision was interpreted, however, by the liberals loyal to PM Citu in the sense of “after [at least] three days,” speculating a linguistic ambiguity. 

andrei@romania-insider.com

(Photo source: Dreamstime.com)

On Thursday (September 9), the Romanian Parliament passed a draft decision to set up a parliamentary committee of inquiry to identify the causes of the substantial rise in gas and electricity prices, senators and deputies said.

Energy minister Virgil Popescu said that he voted for this committee of inquiry because he wants "to establish the causes and to find out all the reasons why the prices of electricity and natural gas have increased," according to Economedia.ro.

The Social Democratic Party (PSD, opposition) announced on Monday (September 6) that the objectives of the committee of inquiry include analyzing the measures of the ministry of energy, consumer protection agency (ANPC), the Competition Council and the energy market regulator (ANRE) aimed at mitigating anti-competitive practices and "the artificial increase of the bills paid by the people."

The members of the committee of inquiry will also evaluate "the possibility of reintroducing regulated prices for a limited period of time for household consumers and SMEs affected by the pandemic", according to the Social Democrats.

andrei@romania-insider.com

(Photo source: Dreamstime.com)

Romania is among the countries with the lowest carbon dioxide emissions in Europe, with 3.8 tons per capita, former Romanian minister of energy Răzvan Nicolescu, member of the general council of the European Institute for Technology and Innovation, reminded on Thursday (September 9), Economica.net reported. He recommended a bolder voice of the country's representatives in the decarbonisation negotiations.

Only one European country fares better than Romania [in terms of per-capita CO2 emissions], namely Sweden.

Sweden has an average CO2 emission of 3.2 tons per capita, compared to Romania's 3.8 tonnes per capita, according to World Bank data quoted by Nicolescu.

Notably, Romania started in 1989 from roughly the same level of per capita CO2 emission as the European Union (9.25 tonnes), but as of 2018 (latest data available), Romania's emissions plunged to 3.85 tonnes compared to EU's 6.42 tonnes, according to the World Bank.  Including the other greenhouse gases in the equivalent of CO2, Romania's emissions were 5.9 tonnes per capita in 2019 compared to European Union's (EU27) 8.4 tonnes average, according to Eurostat.

Nicolescu stressed that "we play in a different league [than the other countries in the region]".

"We are in the league where we have to consult with the Nordic countries because we are in a different situation. Our neighbours are far behind us. And this is the reality, and we have to start from this reality," Nicolescu commented.

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(Photo source: Mihocphoto/Dreamstime.com)

With the inauguration of the first Taco Bell restaurant in Bacau, one of the biggest cities in the northeastern part of Romania, the brand operated under franchise by Sphera group in Romania marks 13 locations nationwide, after almost four years since its launch on the local market.

The restaurant in Bacau is located in the food court area of the Arena Mall shopping centre and covers approximately 100 square meters.

Bacau thus becomes the ninth city served by the fast food chain, beside Bucharest, Cluj-Napoca, Sibiu, Timișoara, Ploiești, Constanța, Brașov and Iași.

Sphera Franchise Group is the largest group in the food service industry in Romania and owns the companies that operate the KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell brands in a franchise system. Internationally, it operates KFC restaurants in Chisinau, the Republic of Moldova and in Italy.

The group operates over 160 restaurants in the three markets and has over 4,400 employees.

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(Photo source: the company)

Hidroelectrica, the largest electricity producer in Romania, intends to build a 45 MWp photovoltaic park in Tudor Vladimirescu village, in the eastern Romania county of Braila, according to an announcement launched in the electronic public procurement system.

For the time being, the company is seeking to buy consultancy services in view of the feasibility study and the drafting of the tender book for the contracting of the turnkey project, according to Economica.net.

The future PV plant is planned to have a capacity of about 45 MWp, enough to generate an amount of electricity estimated at 56 GWh annually. It will be located on 55 hectares of land, for which Hidroelectrica owns the property, and will be connected to an existing 110 kV line in the area.

Separately, the company announced that it intends to install photovoltaic panels on the buildings of 20 hydropower plants in the company's portfolio, located along the Olt River. The company seeks consultancy services similar to those for the 45 MWp park in Braila, Economica.net also reported.

"Using monocrystalline photovoltaic panels with Pi = 450 W and an efficiency of 20%, we can obtain a total installed capacity of 2.24 MWp with an estimated total electricity production of 2.6 GWh / year. The initial estimate of the investment is approximately EUR 1 mln / MWp," shows the tender book.

andrei@romania-insider.com

(Photo source: Dreamstime.com)

Agroland Agribusiness (AAB), a company that went public on the AeRO market three months ago, listed its first bond issue on the Multilateral Trading System (MTS) on September 9.

The funds attracted from the investors, RON 10 mln (EUR 2 mln), will be used for investments, potential mergers or acquisitions, and potential participation in start-ups in the farming business.

The company issued and sold in a private placement 100,000 corporate bonds with a maturity of 5 years and a nominal value of RON 100 maturing on August 2, 2026. The bonds have attached a fixed coupon of 9%, payable semi-annually.

During the private placement held in July this year, 110 investors subscribed bonds, out of which 7 were qualified and 103 retail investors.

The private placement and listing were made with the support of TradeVille.

In total, the Agroland Group, which includes Agroland Agribusiness, has attracted over RON 32 mln from the capital market, in 2020 and 2021, with two private placements for bonds and two private placements for shares.

Agroland Agribusiness started operating in 2016 as a division of the mother company Agroland Business System, and since 2017 has been operating independently in both legal and financial terms. The company has two business lines: selling inputs for conventional and organic agriculture and cereals trading.

Agroland Agribusiness operates in the South-West of the country and aims to cover the South and West completely.

andrei@romania-insider.com

(Photo source: Inquam Photos/Diana Oros)

I3CP, the Dutch-registered foreign investor engaged in the process of taking over troubled Romanian insurer City, told Ziarul Financiar that it is still interested and in the process of completing the deal - despite the financial market regulator's announcement about its failure to show up with the EUR 150 mln capital increase in due time by the end of September 6.

Matt Fairfield, the representative of the I3CP, claims that they want to continue the talks for the acquisition of the City Insurance company.

"As we speak, we have provided the authorities with the necessary documents to ensure compliance with the capital requirements, as well as the documents needed to obtain approval for the change of control. So, I would say that we have finished our work, and now we are working with the FGA and FSA representatives to complete the change of control," he said. Nothing about the money transfer.

"In recent months, we have worked intensively with our lawyers, advisors and international partners to implement a strong capital solution, and we continue to work to ensure the necessary liquidity for City Insurance to continue its presence on the Romanian market," Fairfield said when asked about the money.

andrei@romania-insider.com

(Photo source: Dreamstime.com)

According to the latest Bloomberg poll quoted by Profit.ro, the quotations of the single European currency, the euro, would remain in Bucharest below the RON 5 threshold until the end of this year. The psychological threshold of RON 5 will probably be surpassed in the first part of 2022.

However, the Romanian publication notes that some of the analysts' estimates were cast last week - before the political crisis erupted - thus implying that the crisis may change analysts' expectations in the meantime. The ministers of the junior ruling party USR-PLUS resigned on Tuesday (September 7).

On the other hand, the National bank of Romania (BNR) usually intervenes - part of the local currency's controlled floating regime - to limit the strong fluctuations caused by momentary volatility.

The RON seems to be losing ground a bit more alert in recent days. The Romanian currency accelerated its depreciation trend in the last week amid internal political tensions and decoupled from regional developments.

Romanian's currency is the only one in Central and Eastern Europe that has fallen against the euro since the beginning of this year. Compared to January 2020, the euro increased against the leu by about 3.5%, while it depreciated against the zloty by 6%, and against the forint by 5%. Against the Czech koruna, it was stable. 

andrei@romania-insider.com

(Photo source: Henning Marquardt/Dreamstime.com)

In the first seven months of the year, Romania’s trade deficit (FOB/CIF) widened to EUR 12.864 bln, EUR 2.858 bln more compared to the same period last year, according to data from the National Institution of Statistics (INS).

Thus, between January 1 and July 31, 2021, the FOB exports amounted to EUR 42.511 bln, and the CIF imports amounted to EUR 55.376 bln.

In the first seven months of this year, the exports increased by 24.5%, and the imports increased by 25.4%, compared to January-July, 2020.

In July 2021, the FOB exports amounted to EUR 6.361 bln, and the CIF imports amounted to EUR 8.547 bln, resulting in a deficit of EUR 2.186 bln. Compared to July 2020, the exports in July 2021 increased by 14.6%, and the imports increased by 24.3%.

Between January 1 and July 31 2021, important shares in the structure of exports and imports were held by the group of machinery and transport equipment (47.5% for exports and 36.4% for imports) and other manufactured products (30. 5% for export and 30.2% for import).

andrei@romania-insider.com

(Photo source: Pixabay.com)

HBO Max, WarnerMedia’s direct-to-consumer streaming platform, will launch in Romania in 2022, the company announced.

On October 26, it will launch in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Spain and Andorra, the first six European countries where the service will be available.

Next year, 14 territories will follow: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and Slovenia.

HBO Max will offer entertainment from WarnerMedia’s content brands, including Warner Bros., HBO, DC and Cartoon Network.

The platform launched in the United States in May 2020 and introduced a lower-priced, advertising-supported tier in June 2021. In June, it launched in 39 territories across Latin America and the Caribbean, marking its first availability outside the U.S.

(Photo: Pixabay)

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Romanian pan flute player Gheorghe Zamfir is scheduled to perform at Untold, the large music festival taking place in Cluj-Napoca, in western Romania.

Zamfir will perform on the festival’s main stage on Friday, September 10.

A best-selling artist, Zamfir has received numerous gold and platinum discs. He collaborated with musicians such as Andrea Bocelli, Ennio Morricone, André Rieu, Richard Clayderman, among others.

Untold is also involved in promoting the artist’s project of an international pan flute academy. Those interested can purchase virtual bricks from the future Gheorghe Zamfir Pan Flute Academy from the platform clapart.com. Those who purchase the bricks will be listed as founders in the academy’s amphitheater, and their names will be visible with the help of AR. After the event, the festival will launch an NFT collection with memorable moments delivered by the musician.

The lineup of this year’s edition includes names such as David Guetta, Martin Garrix, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, The Script, Parov Stelar, Tyga, and Sam Feldt.

Some 300,000 people are expected to attend the festival, which kicks off today, September 9. Around 70,000 – 75,000 people are expected to attend every day.

“People from more than 100 countries are attending. This year we have a daily limit of 75,000 people who can attend, established by the authorities. In 2019, we had some 100,000 people daily. This year, it will be 70-75% of the previous edition’s attendance,” Untold manager Bogdan Buta explained, quoted by Stiri.tvr.ro.

(Photo: Salajean/ Dreamstime)

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According to the Future of Working Abroad report by InterNations, the typical Romanian expat working abroad is 38.8 years old on average (which is younger than the average expat - 43.1 years), and usually moves abroad for job-related reasons (43% of respondents). Romanians also move to another country because they want to live in their partner’s home country/for love (12% vs. 10% globally) or because they are looking for a better quality of life (10% vs. 6% globally).

Most Romanians working abroad were recruited internationally (20%), followed by 16% who found a job independently, and 8% who were sent abroad by their employer. Not a single respondent from Romania moved abroad to start a business (compared to a global average of 2%). 

The report also revealed that most Romanian expats working abroad (60%) are female, a figure higher than the global average of 46%. 

The most common field that Romanian expats work in is IT (19% compared to the global average of 11%). They also work in finance (9%), transportation & logistics (8%), and healthcare, manufacturing & engineering, and education (7% each). 

The InterNations report also found the Romanian expats to be happy with their salaries or the possibility to work remotely. Over a third of Romanian expats (34.6%) cited good compensation and/or good benefits as a highlight of their current job. In fact, 71% have a gross yearly income of up to USD 75,000 (compared to 62% globally), and 16% make more than USD 100,000 per year (compared to 23% globally).

The opportunity to work remotely/from home is also among the things that the Romanian expats like best about their current jobs: 35.2% named this aspect compared to a global average of 32%. Three in four (75%) can work from home, and 68% report that they enjoy it. 

However, when asked about their dream job, the opportunity to work remotely is not high on the list for Romanian expats: just 18% cite it among the most relevant factors for an ideal work environment (vs. 22% globally). Good compensation and/or benefits is most important to Romanian expats (55%), followed by a good work-life balance (50%), flexible working hours and general career development (30% each), as well as room for personal development/growth (28%), and creative/interesting tasks (25%).

The Future of Working Abroad report is based on data from the Expat Insider 2021 survey by InterNations, the world’s largest expat community with more than 4 million members. Expats all across the globe shared what it is like to work abroad and described their working conditions, but also what they would like to see in the future.

Find out more from our RI+ article here - Working abroad: New report reveals the Romanian expat's profile

irina.marica@romania-insider.com

(Photo source: Mohamad Faizal Ramli/Dreamstime.com)

Romanians working abroad are younger than the average, more likely to be female, and work in IT. Most move abroad for work-related reasons but, on the other hand, they are not so happy with their working life. That's what the Future of Working Abroad report revealed, in addition to other interesting findings such as the most common destinations for Romanian expats, gross yearly income, or how they envision their future working life.

The Future of Working Abroad report is based on data from the Expat Insider 2021 survey by InterNations, the world's largest expat community with over 4 million members in 420 cities. In this new report, working expats share what it's like to work abroad and how they picture their future working life. 

So why do Romanians move abroad? According to the Expat Insider survey, career was the most important reason for relocating to another country - 43% of Romanians working abroad moved for this reason. By comparison, the global average is 47%. So there's not a significant difference. ___STEADY_PAYWALL___

Most Romanians working abroad were recruited internationally (20%), 16% found a job on their own, and 8% were sent abroad by their employer. However, according to InterNations, not a single survey respondent from Romania moved abroad to start their own business. But the global average is also pretty low - only 2%.

Besides job-related reasons, Romanian expats working abroad moved to another country because they wanted to live in their partner's home country/for love (12% vs. 10% globally) or because they were looking for a better quality of life (10% vs. 6% globally).

Meet the typical Romanian expat: younger than the average, female, and most likely in a relationship.

The typical Romanian expat working abroad, as revealed by the InterNations report, is quite different from the average working expat. First, the average age of Romanian expats is 38.8 years old, which makes them much younger than the average expat (43.1 years). Then, three out of five Romanian expats working abroad (60%) are female, compared to just 46% globally. Close to two in five (39%) are male (vs. 53% globally), while up to 1% prefer to self-describe their gender identity. When it comes to their relationship status, most (62%) are in a relationship (similar to the global average of 61%), and 38% are single.

Almost all Romanian expats (92%) work full time, ten percentage points more than the global average (82%). The most common field that Romanian expats work in is IT (19% vs. 11% globally), but they also work in finance (9%) and transportation & logistics (8%), as well as healthcare, manufacturing & engineering, and education (7% each). 

But what about education? Well, in this case, things don't differ so much anymore, as the level of education among Romanians working abroad is similar to the global average. In fact, the share of Romanians holding a postgraduate degree/master's degree (or similar) is the same as the global average (47%). The shares are also similar for those who cite a bachelor's as their highest academic degree (34% vs. 33% globally) and those with a PhD (9% vs. 8% globally). A share of 8% only graduated high school, compared to 5% globally.

However, the same InterNations report revealed that, although education levels are similar to the global average, Romanian expats excel in senior positions. 44% work in a senior or specialist role, which is 14 percentage points above the global average of 30%. However, only 8% are top managers/executives (vs. 13% globally), and another 20% work in lower or middle management (vs. 17% globally). Also, entrepreneurship doesn't seem to be a familiar concept among Romanian expats, as only 2% have their own business (vs. 7% globally), while 8% are self-employed/freelancers (vs. 11% globally).

Are the Romanian expats happy with their working life?

If we're looking at the same report, the answer is "not really." Only 66% of Romanian respondents are satisfied with their job in general (vs. 73% globally), while 17% rate this factor negatively (vs. 13% globally). Furthermore, 7% even say that they are not satisfied with their job at all, compared to just 3% globally. 

But what makes them unhappy? The main reason seems to be the work-life balance: only 62% are happy with this factor (vs. 68% globally), while 20% are unhappy (vs. 16% globally). Plus, they only report average or slightly higher-than-average satisfaction with their career opportunities (50% vs. 49% globally), their working hours (71% vs. 70% globally), and their job security (70% vs. 67% globally). But, as it looks like, most working expats, regardless of nationality, feel the same.

On the other hand, close to three-quarters (74%) rate the state of the local economy in their host country positively (compared to a global average of 65%). But, as InterNations says, this is not really a surprise, as the two most common destinations Romanian expats work in are Germany and the Netherlands. Both countries are voted among the top 10 worldwide for the state of their local economy in the Working Abroad Index of the Expat Insider 2021 survey. The third most common destination is the UK.

Romanian expats are also quite happy with the opportunity to work remotely/from home: 35.2% name this aspect when describing what they like best about their current jobs, close to the global average of 32%. Most of them (75%) are currently able to work from home, and 68% report that they enjoy it. On the other hand, only 11% say that they can work remotely but usually prefer not to, compared to 16% globally. 

However, the opportunity to work remotely is not at the top of the list when it comes to the Romanians' dream job: just 18% cite it among the most relevant factors for an ideal work environment (vs. 22% globally).

Also on a positive note, the InterNations report says that the Romanian expats are also enjoying good salaries. Almost 35% of Romanian respondents name good compensation and/or good benefits as a highlight of their current job. Most (71%) have a gross yearly income of up to USD 75,000 (vs. 62% globally), and 16% make more than USD 100,000 per year (vs. 23% globally).

What would the Romanian expats like to get from their dream job?

The top three spots on the list are taken by good compensation and/or benefits (55%), a good work-life balance (50%), flexible working hours and general career development (30% each), as well as room for personal development/growth (28%) and creative/interesting tasks (25%). 

Commenting on these results, InterNations Founder and Co-CEO Malte Zeeck said: "Currently, Romanian expats might not be able to find these kinds of jobs in their most common destinations." "However, they are currently also unlikely to find them back home."

In fact, according to InterNations, only 56% of Romanians working abroad say that factors like autonomy, freedom, creativity, personal development, and self-fulfilment are essential in the business culture of their current country of residence. These values are closely related to the concept of New Work, which describes the new way of working in the global and digital age. Globally, 58% say that this concept and associated values play an important role in their host country. 

The top 10 countries where expats rate the importance of New Work in the local business culture the highest are the USA, the UAE, Finland, Estonia, the Netherlands, Bahrain, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and Sweden. 

Romania is at number 43 in this ranking. In fact, 53% of Romanian expats say that these New Work aspects are more important in their current country of residence than in Romania. And the report comes to confirm that, as the three most common destinations where Romanian expats work do rank ahead of Romania when it comes to expats comparing the importance of New Work in the local business culture. The Netherlands ranks best (5th out of 55 countries), followed by the UK (15th) and Germany (35th).

Irina Marica, irina.marica@romania-insider.com

(Photo source: Megaflopp/Dreamstime.com)

As the new academic year starts we take this opportunity to catch up with Cambridge School of Bucharest and its director, Rita Maalouf. Speaking of the full opening for the entire school on its forest campus in Ilfov, Director Maalouf was eager to talk of the hopes and dreams they will realise this school year for her staff and students. 

“While we were so excited to move into the school last year, this term we are so looking forward to taking our learning outside where we can and really exploit all of the opportunities this campus offers our students,” explains Director Maalouf. 

The school occupies a premium spot on Iancu Nicolae, boasting clear access but nestled against Baneasa Forest, which gives the school privacy, fresh air, and a sense of safety for the students as they enjoy their school day. 

The school takes pride in offering a broad British and international curriculum and has welcomed the chance to expand its academics this year with a full extra-curricular programme and an additional focus on sustainable development education. “CSB recognises the drive young people have today for analysing their impact on the planet, and we are keen to support this enthusiasm and energy by including a special programme aimed at sustainability across all year groups. There will be many new projects for our pupils to really focus on and explore as teams; it is certainly creating a buzz at school,” the director continues. 

Reflecting on the last two academic years, of course, teaching staff are hopeful that students will be finally allowed to continue their studies without disruption. Cambridge School is keen to ensure their students return to a sense of routine that will support their learning while allowing them to enjoy a pastoral programme to guarantee the much-needed social interaction we all know is vital for young people. “We have a comprehensive calendar of events planned for our students, and, as student voice is central to our school, we are excited to see how our students will develop this to include their own ideas and priorities. At the heart of CSB this year, is the growth of our student leadership programme. It is important that every child feels their opinion is welcomed and that they can have a role to play at their school. At CSB, we feel it is essential to create opportunities wherein every child can have a moment in the sun,” says Assistant Deputy Director, Matthew Wemyss.  

To help the school year progress without delays, CSB is committed to following all government guidelines regarding health and safety in the ongoing pandemic. All staff have been vaccinated, and the school has rigorous protocols. While the school has finely tuned hybrid teaching programmes and online education methods, the team is committed to doing everything to avoid returning to online lessons. 

“The teachers are aware of the toll Covid has taken on our young people and will be very cognisant of our students’ mental health and wellbeing. Considering the emotional and mental strain of last year, we have invested in the support we can offer students beyond academics. This includes a robust form tutor programme, specialised counselling, and teacher training and workshops on student wellbeing. Confidence and emotional security among our students are top priorities for CSB,” adds CSB’s PSCHEE coordinator, Rebecca Roberts.

Honouring its values of confidence, success, and belonging, CSB is dedicated to move into the new academic year as one community, with health and safety and emotional growth front and centre of the education it provides. 

(p) - This article is an advertorial.

A total of 76.5% of the employees in Romania have experienced at least one burnout episode in the last five years, according to a survey of Undelucram.ro, an online community of employees in the country.

The survey was conducted in August among 3,016 employees over the age of 18.

At the same time, 54% of the respondents say they have experienced several episodes of burnout in the last five years and 22.5% a single episode. Approximately 20% say they can't identify burnout, and only 3% say they have not experienced such moments.

Approximately 32% of the employees answering the survey say that their burnout was caused by the very high volume of work, 24.7% by the company's culture, 24.2% by the manager to whom they reported, and 13.3% by the lack of leave.

Furthermore, 81% of the respondents say they have not received help from the employer to recover from burnout. Only 5% said they were helped by the company they worked for.

A total of 43.7% of the respondents say they are encouraged to take days off, while 25.8% say there are no specific actions to outline the importance of taking time off. Furthermore, 19.3% are not encouraged to take days off, and 12% do not feel encouraged to go on vacation because there is no one to replace them.

Of those answering the survey, 42% say that they relax completely and disconnect from everything related to work while on holiday, while 39% deal with emergencies and 18.5% constantly check their e-mail.

When the survey was conducted, approximately 60% of respondents had been on vacation or were planning to do so; 25.8% did not want to go on vacation, and the remaining 13.4% were undecided. Of those going on holiday or who had already done so, a holiday in the country was an option for 41.1% of the respondents, a holiday abroad for 32.4% and 26.4% planned to spend a few days off at home. Before the pandemic, 71% of employees went on vacation every year.

(Photo: Daniel Schwarz | Dreamstime.com)

simona@romania-insider.com

Low-cost airline Wizz Air will introduce routes from Iaşi to Madrid and from Suceava to Brussels starting December.

The carrier will fly from Iaşi, in northeastern Romania, to Madrid on Thursdays and Sundays, beginning December 2.

Another route will connect Suceava, also in the northeastern part of the country, to Brussels on Tuesdays and Saturdays, starting December 4.

Tickets for the two flights are available online.

The two routes add to the flights the company operates from local airports to destinations in Spain and Belgium.

Wizz Air is looking to recruit 800 flight attendants this year, including from Romania

(Photo: Darius Stradas/ Dreamstime)

simona@romania-insider.com

The speakers of the two chambers in Romania’s Parliament, Ludovic Orban (Liberal, PNL) and Anca Dragu (reformist, USR-PLUS), convened for Thursday (September 9), at 4:00 PM, the joint sitting of the Parliament’s chambers in order to read the no-confidence motion submitted by USR-PLUS, G4media.ro reported.

Invoking constitutional provisions and previous rulings of the Constitutional Court, the two took this step before the Parliament’s leading body (Permanent Bureaus) to take note of the motion.

The functioning of the Bureaus was hindered by members of the Liberal Party and Social Democratic Party (PSD).

Furthermore, PNL MPs backing prime minister Florin Citu referred speakers’ decision to the Constitutional Court. Specifically, they alleged a constitutional conflict between the Government and Parliament related to the no-confidence motion. In detail, PM Citu reports a list of irregularities related to the notification of the motion.

The Court set for September 15 the deadline for the interested parties to express their arguments. 

(Photo: Lcva/ Dreamstime)

andrei@romania-insider.com

Romanian integrated steel mill Liberty in Galaţi (formerly known as Sidex) is investing RON 31 mln (EUR 6.3 mln) in a processing line to coat the pipes it produces in its own tubular products unit.

The annual capacity of the line will be around 110,000 tonnes, or almost 500,000 meters of pipes, and will ensure washing, drying, sandblasting, inspection and coating.

The technology will allow adding successive layers of epoxy resin, polyethylene and polypropylene, as well as - on request - polypropylene foam.

"The market is demanding more and more coated pipes, used to transport energy fluids. With this new coating line, Liberty Tubular Products Galati will be the only manufacturer in this area with the capacity to produce this type of high-quality tubular product. But the great commercial advantage is that the company will produce both the raw material for the pipes and will coat them for customers in Romania, the Balkans and other areas of Europe," explains Aida Nechifor, General Manager of Liberty Galaţi.

(Photo: Libertysteelgroup.com/ro)

andrei@romania-insider.com

Romanian Black Sea Fund I, managed by the local management company Black Sea Fund (with Matei Paun and Cornel Fumea among partners), took over 70% in the local board game producer D-Toys.

The value of the transaction is confidential. D-Toys is a company founded by local entrepreneur Tibor Fustos in 2001, and last year it posted revenues of four million euros, being the largest independent producer of puzzles and educational games in Romania. The company owns a factory in St. Gheorghe (central Romania).

Taking over the majority stake involves expanding the management team.

The new management aims to focus in the coming years on increasing online sales, developing in markets such as Germany, Austria, Switzerland and increasing production and creative capacity to meet the needs of the public in the countries concerned.

Black Sea Fund I was assisted in this transaction by bpv Grigorescu Ştefănică, while D-Toys by Saxum Corporate Finance and Schoenherr & Asociaţii.

“Our customers are increasingly moving away from cheap imports from China and looking for entertainment, quality and innovation, and we are ideally positioned to serve them in Europe and beyond, being one of the few integrated producers in the EU,” said Alex Bute, the future CEO.

(Photo courtesy of the company)

andrei@romania-insider.com

Concordia, the organization that represents the largest companies in Romania, argues in favor of a predictable calendar for the minimum wage increases over the next 3-4 years that would "lead to an increase in employees' revenues, without putting unbearable pressure on companies."

Steven van Groningen, president and CEO of Raiffeisen Bank and president of Concordia, stressed that the calendar should be predictable.

The statement comes in the context of the political parties debating the magnitude of the minimum wage to be enforced next year - a debate that in principle, under the current political context, can lead to populist decisions.

Prime minister Florin Citu announced after a meeting of the Tripartite National Committee for Social Dialogue on September 7 that "the minimum wage in the economy must increase" and promised that by the end of October, the authorities would come up with a clear formula for calculating it.

Groningen says Concordia agrees with sketching a formula for the minimum wage hike.

"In our opinion, we can agree with the social partners a real fixed annual growth to be adjusted with the inflation rate and productivity. Concordia has had constant discussions this year with the other nationally representative social partners to set the growth timetable until 2024. We believe that together we can reach, through dialogue, a formula that can represent an improvement in living standards for those who are paid the minimum wage," says Steven van Groningen, quoted by Ziarul Financiar.

Currently, the minimum gross salary in the economy is RON 2,300 (EUR 460), and the National Trade Union Confederation Cartel Alfa has proposed an increase of RON 143 for 2022, an advance of about 10% compared to 2021. 

(Photo: Pixabay)

andrei@romania-insider.com

Dutch-based company I3CP failed to transfer in due time, namely by the end of September 6, the promised EUR 150 mln capital injection to Romania’s biggest insurer City Insurance, announced the local financial markets regulator ASF.

Consequently, the City will not be able to meet the capital requirements, ASF concluded, adding that “the situation will be analysed and the necessary decisions will be taken.”

ASF has not commented about the possible decisions it is considering, but the regulator’s vice-president Cristian Rosu stated at the end of last month that “the immediate measure is to open bankruptcy proceedings.”

I3CP had announced at the end of August that it subscribed new shares worth EUR 150 mln in a capital increase operated by City.

In May, the local financial market regulator ASF placed City Insurance under special administration due to financial problems mainly related to insufficient legal reserves.

City Insurance, the only insurance company in Romania that is not affiliated with an international group, was the leader of the insurance market in 2020, with written premiums of about RON 2.3 billion (EUR 470 mln).

The capital deficit, hidden by fraudulent schemes according to ASF’s findings, is close to RON 845 mln (over EUR 170 mln).

(Photo: Pixabay)

andrei@romania-insider.com

Despite some last-minute improvements, the emergency ordinance on the EUR 10 bln public investment program endorsed by the Romanian Government on Friday (September 3) and published in the Official Journal on Monday incorporates major failures that recommend a more detailed screening from the Constitutional Court, according to think tank Expert Group.

The program, known as Anghel Saligny or PNDL3, was severely criticized by the reformist USR-PLUS as an instrument at the discretion of prime minister Florin Citu.

In the meantime, USR-PLUS pulled out of the Government for exactly reason, among others.

"The fundamental problem of this national project remains the same: the allocation of funds by ministerial order. Plus, it [the project] doesn't specify how the money from the city halls will be recovered in five years. There are only political statements, and I don't think there is money for these local development projects; the money will eventually be covered from the Budget Reserve Fund [from the central government budget]. We maintain the request sent to the Ombudsman to notify the Constitutional Court: the urgency of adopting the ordinance was not justified, the project had to be debated in the Parliament," said Septimius Parvu, Expert Group expert, quoted by Adevarul.

He admitted that some of the failures were addressed compared to the first draft of the project.

"There are certain amendments that partially address the questions about integrity. There is an article that provides for the creation of a platform on which municipalities must register their projects and allocation for each project. After the projects are approved, municipalities will be required to report the progress of their projects and who are the contractors," he explained. 

(Photo: Antonyesse/ Dreamstime)

andrei@romania-insider.com

Romanian Business Leaders (RBL), one of the leading local business organizations, approached President Klaus Iohannis with an open letter stressing that the Government made not much progress in delivering on its promises nearly one year after it came into office.

Because of the protracted political crisis that is expected and for which no solution is foreseen, nothing sustainable can be built, they warned.

RBL addressed this letter on behalf of over 200 Romanian entrepreneurs attending the 9th edition of the Romanian Business Leaders Summit.

While not mentioning the Government directly, the signatories have indirectly expressed disappointment with the performance of the executive.

President Iohannis has constantly backed prime minister Florin Citu (PNL) in his conflict with the reformist USR-PLUS, despite the visible delays in the areas managed by the liberal ministers: the fiscal consolidation, the public pension system, the unitary public wage system.

"The reason we signed this letter is that the institution of the Presidency has a duty to restore stability and confidence by exercising the constitutional role of mediator between the political powers, putting Romania's interests first. This is what the citizens of this country expect from you; this is what we, the Romanian entrepreneurs, want," RBL's statement reads.

RBL is a founding member of the Coalition for the Development of Romania (CDR), a private initiative that provides a coherent basis for consultation with the Government and other public institutions on issues that have an impact on the economic and business climate in Romania.

(Photo: Oleg Kachura/ Dreamstime)

andrei@romania-insider.com

The collapse of Romania's coalition government could disrupt fiscal consolidation efforts, which are key to resolving the negative outlook on Romania's BBB- rating, Fitch rating agency says in a note sent on September 7, after the junior ruling partner USR-PLUS pulled out of the government leaving the liberal party (PNL) without majority support in parliament.

Political turmoil clouds (former) coalition's ambitious reform agenda and the fiscal outlook, the rating agency says.

The government had planned ambitious expenditure and revenue reforms to reduce the deficit to under 3% of GDP in 2024 from 9.3% of GDP in 2020.

Romania is expected to send a medium-term fiscal consolidation strategy to the European Commission in October.

Fitch's next scheduled review of Romania's rating is due on October 22.

In response to the note sent by Fitch on the political context in Romania and its impact on the fiscal policies, prime minister Florin Citu promised to address the concerns expressed by the rating agency.

"I will explain to them that the reform program goes further; we will show that we have higher revenues in the budget [and that] the budget deficit can be reduced. We stick to the calendar," replied PM Citu, quoted by Ziarul Financiar.

(Photo: Shutterstock)

andrei@romania-insider.com

According to a decision of the Committee for Emergency Situations, wearing a face mask will be mandatory within a radius of 50 meters around schools in Bucharest, local Agerpres reported. The measure is valid starting September 13, when the new school year starts in Romania.

“To prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2 virus infections, starting with September 13, wearing a protective mask, so as to cover the mouth and nose, becomes mandatory within a radius of 50 meters around the educational units, for people standing in this perimeter,” reads the decision.

According to the same document, the COVID-19 incidence rate reached 1.12 cases per thousand inhabitants in Bucharest.

irina.marica@romania-insider.com

(Photo source: Inquam Photos/Sabin Cirstoveanu)

The Google Pay application is also available in Romania starting Wednesday, September 8, according to Economedia.ro. So far, the service was available only through payment applications of partners, banks or electronic payment operators.

Android phone users in Romania can now use the Google Pay app to make contactless or online payments. Moreover, the app also makes it easier to store flight tickets or loyalty cards.

In addition, Google Pay for Wear OS devices also becomes available in Romania, which makes it easier to pay with a smartwatch.

Currently available in over 30 countries worldwide, Google Pay offers secure payments with multi-level security.

irina.marica@romania-insider.com

(Photo source: Piotr Adamowicz/Dreamstime.com)

Romania’s prime minister Florin Citu announced on Wednesday morning, September 8, that he sent president Klaus Iohannis the resignations of USR-PLUS ministers from the government, together with the proposals for interim ministers. Later the same day, president Iohannis signed off on the resignations and the appointment of interim ministers.

Thus, PM Florin Citu will take over as interim minister of investments and European projects, replacing Cristian Ghinea. Meanwhile, finance minister Dan Vilceanu will also act as the interim transport minister (replacing Catalin Drula), while energy minister Virgil-Daniel Popescu will be the interim economy minister (replacing Claudiu Nasui).

The USR-PLUS minister of research and digitalization, Ciprian Teleman, also resigned from the government, and environment minister Tanczos Barna is set to replace him. At the same time, the development and public works minister Cseke Attila will take over as the interim health minister, replacing the former USR-PLUS minister Ioana Mihaila.

The junior ruling party USR-PLUS decided to pull its ministers out of the government earlier this week, amid a growing political crisis that started after prime minister Florin Citu dismissed USR-PLUS justice minister Stelian Ion. In response, USR-PLUS withdrew its support for PM Citu and called for negotiations for naming another prime minister.

PM Florin Citu refused to resign, and thus USR-PLUS filed a no-confidence motion against him. The motion, however, has been stuck in parliamentary procedures. In addition, according to Digi24, prime minister Citu announced on Wednesday that the government would ask the Constitutional Court to rule on the no-confidence motion filed by USR-PLUS and AUR, which he considers to have been filed illegally.

irina.marica@romania-insider.com

(Photo source: Gov.ro)

Romanian deep tech startup Humans announced that it attracted USD 9 million financing through a private sale of cryptocurrency. Entrepreneur Răzvan Munteanu, one of the most active investors in the blockchain area and Elrond Research, the investment arm of the most respected blockchain companies in the world, were among the investors.

The announcement came shortly after the company announced the launch of a world-leading technology called Proof-of-Human, which validates that there is a person behind every decision of the AI. It uses blockchain technology to encapsulate each AI in an NFT (token non-fungible), thus providing an interface of management and governance for that AI.

“We plan to continue our investment in innovation so that we can allow anyone to create anything they can imagine, without any constraints on time, space, budget or skills, combining blockchain technology and artificial intelligence (AI),” said Sabin Dima, CEO of Humans.

Humans develops an innovative technology through which it creates unique AI models with an initial focus on the generation and manipulation of digital DNA, generating synthetic media.

The initial focus of the Humans platform is synthetic media, which allows the creation of the voice, image, and gestures of people without the need for a physical presence, called digital DNA. Starting from this digital DNA, audio and video content can be created from scratch with the help of artificial intelligence. This technology allows, for example, the narration of books (audio-books) by a favourite actor or the creation of video production without the help of an entire team of cameramen, video editors or presenters.

“Production studios, ad agencies and any content creator can access licensed Digital Genome, create rich media and automate personalized output in one place. Innovators can publish and monetize their AI technologies in a ready-to-sell environment that handles data management, integration, and sales. Anyone can license and monetize their digital likeness, voice, gestures, dance moves, or any other skill and content creators can use any combination to create synthetic actors and highly personalized media assets,” Dima explained.

irina.marica@romania-insider.com

(Photo source: the company)

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