The Business Week in Romania 25.09 - 29.09.2017

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MACRO

·       The ROBOR index rises to 1,58%

Last week, the ROBOR index increased from a value of 1,11% (on September 25th) to 1,58% (on September 29th) - its highest level for the past couple of years. 

The factors that led to the increased interest rates are: the expectations for monetary policy strengthening by BNR (although a little exaggerated at this point, from our point of view), the set up of the minimum reserves, the uneven budget execution, the special dividends that were paid or are expected to be paid by state-controlled companies, and payments to the state budget on September 25th”, explained Ciprian Dascălu, chief economist at ING Bank. At the same time, the increase of ROBOR was also influenced by BNR interventions on the stock market, which led to the withdrawal of liquidity in national currency, and by the fact that at the end of August the liquidity surplus in the money market was relatively low, according to Dascălu.

Eugen Rădulescu, director of Financial Stability department at BNR, stated that the low interest rates era has ended: “The discussion about ROBOR is totally disproportionate. We’re talking about an increase of 50 points. Inflation has increased much more than that. The moment inflation becomes positive, we can no longer talk about low interest rates. You can’t have low interest when inflation is high.”

* The ROBOR index represents the average interest rate at which Romanian banks borrow each other in Lei. The index is set daily by the National Bank, as an arithmetic mean of the quoted prices of ten selected banks.

·       Fuel prices rose again on October 1st

Fuel prices rose with 0.16 lei / liter on October 1st, due to the gradual increase of excise duties on gasoline and gas that were approved by the Government through the Ordinance amending the Fiscal Code proposed in August. Returning the excise duties for fuel at their 2016 level was proposed after the Ministry of Finance observed a decrease in revenues in the first half of the year. Since the announcement, the fuel prices have increased by up to 1 Leu at the pump, exceeding 5 lei/liter. Professional carriers - the largest fuel consumers - estimate that for a truck, a single fill will be an extra financial effort of  450 lei. 

·       Romania ranks 20th in the Economic Freedom Report 

Romania has ranked 20th in the world ranking of economic freedom, published by the Fraser Institute. According to the report, Romania had a positive evolution regarding the freedom of international trade (9th place in the world hierarchy), and the regulation of the banking market (16th place in the world hierarchy); a negative development was recorded regarding regulations for companies (83rd place) and for  labor market  

(56th place). Fraser Institute’s report evaluates national economies based on the size of budget apparatus, legal framework and property rights, access to finance, international trade freedom, and banking, labor and business regulation. The present report used data collected for 2015. 

·       In 2016, the value of foreign direct investment rose to 4.51bn Euro 

Net foreign direct investment reached € 4.51bn Euro at the end of 2016 - up by more than 1bn euro from last year’s level (3.46bn Euro). According to statistics provided by the National Bank and the National Institute of Statistics, in the total value of these foreign investments, 4.34bn Euro represented contributions to equity, and 176m Euro represented net credit from foreign investors. 

·       Number of new companies increased by 34% in 2017 

According to the Trade Registry, this year the number of registered companies increased by 34.4%, compared to the same period of last year; most of the registered companies have as main activity wholesale and retail trade, agriculture, forestry and fishing, and manufacturing. In the meantime, the number of companies that left the market fell by more than 16%. 

·       More than 42,000 SRL-D firms set up in the last 6 years 

Since the launch of the SRL-D business program on the local market in 2011, start-up entrepreneurs have set up 42,906 firms. Of the total, most debut companies were launched in Bucharest (5,894), Cluj (5,099) and Timiş (2,511). 

·       16% of Romanian companies do not have employees, capital and sales 

According to data from the National Bank and the Ministry of Finance, more than 100,000 companies in Romania have neither employees, nor turnover, nor capital, but they have debts of 65bn Lei. More than 263,700 companies have no employees, but have debts of 159,9bn Lei, and 164,400 companies have zero turnover, but debts of 105,6bn Lei. Eugen Rădulescu, director of the Financial Stability department at BNR, stated that these companies are the anomalies that lead to a non-functioning market economy, and contribute to the low VAT collection rate. 

·       Bank loans to the private sector fall below 2008 levels 

According to a UHY study, bank loans granted to the Romanian private sector have reached, in 2016, a 26% lower even than the one registered before the financial crisis (in 2008), deterring the return to economic growth. The total amount of the 2016 loans was 50bn, compared to 70bn in 2008. 

 

Sources: Agerpres, Profit.ro, Ziarul Financiar, Economica.net

 

BUSINESS

·       CFR launches the modernization project for the Brasov-Sighisoara section  

The National Railway Company, CFR, launched the open auction for the modernization of the Apaţa-Caţa subsection, which is part of the Braşov – Sighişoara railway section. The total value of the contract is estimated at 2,867bn Lei. The project will increase the speed of travel and the transportation time on the Hungary-Curtici-Brașov route; the project is mostly financed by the European Commission (81.74%) through the European Interconnection Mechanism, with the remaining 18.26% coming from the state budget. 

·       Nuclearelectrica has approved the start of upgrading reactor 1  

Nuclearelectrica shareholders have approved the start of the first phase of the technologic upgrade strategy of Unit 1 of the Cernavodă nuclear power plant: “the approval by the shareholders of the first phase of the Unit 1 upgrade project is effectively ensuring the continuity of this project for Nuclearelectrica without delay, maintaining the time schedule for each stage and sub-stage”, Nuclearelectrica’s General Manager, Cosmin Ghiță, said in a statement. 

·       Taco Bell to open first restaurant in Romania  

One of the world’s largest fast-food chains, Taco Bell, prepares to open its first restaurant in Romania, in October. The restaurant will open in Băneasa Shopping City. The company operates over 7,000 restaurants worldwide, with over 360 Taco Bell restaurants in 25 countries outside of the United States. The company is generating annual sales of over 9bn $.  

·       AirCanada will operate flights from Otopeni  

The Bucharest National Airport Company announced that, as of June 2018, Air Canada will operate two direct flights from Henri Coandă International Airport, Bucharest, to the Montreal and Toronto airports. 

·       Carmistin to take over Avicola Târgu Jiu  

Carmistin announced that it will take over Avicola Târgu Jiu, and rehabilitate the company with a 20 mil. Euro investment: “At present, the installations are not functional, the permits have been withdrawn, and to resume activity it will require re-authorization, both for the slaughterhouse and the farms. By the end of 2015 there were 4 farms (34 halls) and one slaughterhouse. Considering the group’s development strategy by investing in livestock farms, we have decided upon this acquisition, which today is a failing complex. Upon completion of the rehabilitation project, Avirom, part of the Carmistin Group, will employ 600 people”, said Iustin Paraschiv, the owner of the Carmistin Group. According to the business plan, the reopening of the first farms will take place next spring, and the modernization of all the platforms will be finalized in 2018. 

·       Mobexpert owner to build 1,000 apartments in Bucharest

Dan Şucu, the owner of Mobexpert, started a residential project alongside Conarg Piteşti. Arcadia Apartments will include 1,000 new apartments and will be located in Bucharest, in the Domenii-Expoziției area and close to the Grivița metro station. On average, the apartments will have net costs ranging between 1,300 and 1,500 euros per built square meter. 

 

Sources: Agerpres, Profit.ro, Ziarul Financiar, Capital 

 

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