Jul 052017

A Romanian company is ready to invest $100 million in the United States according to the Minister of Business, Commerce and Entrepreneurship, Ilan Laufer, who refused to disclose the name of the firm and its operational sector.

Ilan Laufer

Ilan Laufer (photo: Facebook)

“We have already announced an investment of about $ 100 million from a Romanian company in the United States. I think this is a big step forward for us,” said Laufer.

Despite requests from journalists, the Romanian Minister said he can not reveal the activity field of the company or its investment sector on the US market.

Laufer’s Ministry is currently working on the development of a funding mechanisms that aims at stimulating the small companies to further grow their businnes.

The Minister reminded that the Government approved a program on the internationalization of Romanian companies.

“Submission to the internationalization program of the Romanian companies will begin in about three weeks from now,” said Laufer.

Feb 202017

A freezing cold rain and temperatures down to 1 degree Celsius could not prevent thousands of Romanians from taking to the streets of Bucharest Sunday evening to protest against corruption for the 20th consecutive day.

Romanians protesting in cold misty rain in Bucharest (pic: Hotnews.ro)

The Romanian anti-graft rallies kicked off on 31th of January when former Minister of Justice Florin Iordache issued a controversial decree decriminalizing corruption offences worth less than €44,000 in damages. The subsequent public outcry triggered Iordache’s resignation and the repeal of the corruption decree but did not bring the mass protests to an end.

According to local media outlet Hotnews, about 3000 people holding up flags, banners and umbrellas gathered at Victory Square to express their discontent for almost four hours against the Government led by Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu. “Day by day we are here,” people shouted. When the protest peaked at 21.00 local time, the demonstrators sang the national anthem and lighted up their mobile phones. And just like the previous evenings, they then chanted “resignation, resignation” for tens of minutes.

The freezing weather engulfed also the cities of Cluj-Napoca, Timisoara or Sibiu where people showed solitary with their country fellows in Bucharest. Bad weather was apparently no issue for those who are convinced that their voices must be heard when they cry out against endemic political graft.

Nov 192016

Rafael Garay, a Chilean economist thought to have embezzled the stunning amount of 900 million dollars via his firm Think & Co, was captured in Romania after an international arrest warrant had been issued on his name.

Rafael Garay

Rafael Garay ran away with nearly $1 billion

Officers of the Criminal Investigations Department captured 41-year-old Rafael Garay at a shopping center in the city of Brasov. False documents including both Argentine and Spanish passports, were found in his possession.

The man was sought by Chilean authorities and thought to be hiding different wherabouts in France, Thailand or the Netherlands. In late September, Garay was spotted in Romania after having asked the Embassy of Chile in Bucharest for a certificate in order to marry.

Representative of Braşov police said that judicial authorities in Santiago de Chile have issued an international arrest warrant on banker’s name for embezzlement. Chilean media said the man ran away with 920 million dollars, which belonged to several people who had invested in his company.

Brain cancer scam
In June, Rafael Garay announced that he was diagnosed with brain cancer and told investors that they will get their money back via a special account opened at HSBC Bank.

He said he was going to treat his brain cancer but in fact disappeared without returning about 920 million dollars to 36 people who invested in Think & Co, his company which he closed down before running away for the “treatment”. The economist vanished on September 12, 2016, and Chilean authorities had issued a yellow alert for missing person at that time.

Sep 172016

Oprah Winfrey who owns 10% of Weight Watchers, lost $117 million because the price of the company’s shares plummeted on the stock market with a decline of 66%.

The value of the company is now $1.2 billion lower compared to the peak moment when Oprah jumped on board.

The shares fell gradually to $ 9.68 after the company had announced the replacement of its CEO of three years, James Chambers, at the end of August. Even so, the stock is still higher than before Oprah joined the company as the third largest investor.

The media tycoon had earned the fabulous amount of 45 million dollars in just 24 hours after announcing her collaboration with Weight Watchers in October 2015.

Weight Watchers aims to help people lose weight.

Sep 162016

Deutsche Bank AG, the biggest German bank could receive a $14 billion fine from the US Justice Department in a dispute related to toxic real estate loans sold before the 2007-2008 economic crisis.

According to AFP, if the figure is maintained, it will be the highest fine ever given to a foreign bank in the United States, surpassing the previous record of 8.9 billion dollars, a penalty received by the French group BNP Paribas in 2014 for violation of US embargoes.

Deutsche Bank AG headquarter in Frankfurt am Main (© Raimond Spekking / CC BY-SA 4.0 (via Wikimedia Commons)

Deutsche Bank AG headquarter in Frankfurt am Main (© Raimond Spekking / CC BY-SA 4.0 (via Wikimedia Commons)

Deutsche Bank said in a statement:
“We confirm market’s speculation that the US Department of Justice began negotiations with a request for an amount of $ 14 billion. In the next step, the Justice Department asked the bank to submit a counteroffer”.

However, according to various sources, the final fine could fall significantly below $14 billion.
According to Deutsche Bank, negotiations are just in their beginnings, and the final fine could be similar to those received by other large banks for similar charges.

As with other financial groups, Deutsche Bank is accused of selling real estate loans packaged into complex financial products, named RMBS, to investors, even though it knew the loans were toxic assets.
US bank Goldman Sachs got a $ 5.06 billion fine for similar offenses in April 2014.

After the announcement by the German bank, Deutsche Bank shares lost more than 8% in early trading at the Frankfurt Stock Exchange on Friday.

Several voices speculate the Deutsche Bank fine comes as a US retaliation for European Commission’s decision to make Apple Inc. pay up to 13 billion Euro in back taxes to Ireland.

Sep 122016

McDonald’s restaurant operating in Bucharest’s commercial complex of Obor will close its doors this autumn after 21 years of activity.

mcdonalds french fries potatoes

McDonald’s french fries (public domain)

McDonald’s gives up its Obor space in exchange for a relocation to Mall Veranda, a commercial area that is set to open later this year.

In 2016, McDonald’s became part of Premier Capital, a partner company responsible for McDonald’s development in Estonia, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania and Malta.

In Romania, McDonald’s is the leader in its niche with 67 restaurants in 21 cities. So far, the company has invested over 700 million lei in the East-European country where it has 4,000 employees and welcomes more than 180,000 customers daily.

Last year, the chain of hamburger fast food restaurants had a turnover of about 110 million euros, according to data from the Romanian Ministry of Finance.

Sep 062016

Spanish economy is doing amazingly better since the nation was left without a government: unemployment dropped significantly, GDP was preserved and exports rose to historical levels.

Spain flourishes without having a government (public domain)

Spain flourishes without having a government (public domain)

Despite facing an unprecedented political crisis, Spain is flourishing economically. For the past 8 months this country has run without an official government, but the GDP growth stood at 0.8% for four consecutive quarters and there is a possibility for the economy to record a growth rate of over 3%, well above the European average.

The unemployment rate, one of the highest in the EU, fell dramatically below 20% for the first time since 2010, while exports climbed 2.3% in the first half of this year, reaching a historical peak.

In these circumstances, the Financial Times experts ask: “To what extent does a country need a government to create jobs and develop the economy?”

Spain has a largely powerless interim government since December 2015. Mariano Rajoy, the prime minister in office, is not allowed to initiate new laws, appoint ministers and officials nor to approve budgets. As for the Spanish parliament, it has not passed a bill from last October.

Sep 052016

Despite being produced in Romania, only three units of Ford B-Max were sold inside the country in the first half of 2016 while the rest of more than 25,700 vehicles were exported to external markets within the EU.

Ford EcoSport 2015

Ford EcoSport SUV expected on production line in Romania as of 2017 (public domain)

When Ford decided in mid-2012 to produce the model B-Max in the southern city of Craiova, its plan was met with controversy because various surveys showed that the minivan would not enjoy much success in Romania. And indeed, the predictions were right.

In the first six months of this year, Ford manufactured 25.740 B-Max units of which 25.737 were exported, so that only 3 vehicles were marketed in Romania, which means one every two months.

After 4 years of production at its Romanian plant, B-Max has attracted only 371 Romanian customers, ie., less than 100 per year.

Anyway, Ford does not seem to give up so easily as the company has already announced the intention to produce the SUV Ecosport in Craiova starting mid-2017.

Sep 052015

Romania seems to pedal with profit. In just a couple of years, the east European country has become the sixth bicycle provider within the European Union. It has overcome the French industry, which relocated part of its production to Romania, and made one step closer to the Dutch.

Romania earned its place in the bike industry mainly due to the product quality but also because the labor market is cheaper and better qualified.

Romania climbs European bike producer rankings

Romania climbs in chart of European bike producers

As the 6th bicycle producer in the European Union, Romania has placed over 820,000 units on the streets only last year alone.

This figure means just 30,000 bikes less than the Netherlands, a country where cycling is a lifestyle. But the two countries appear to have the same market share – 7% of total production.

In Romania 370,000 bikes are sold annually at an average price of just 125 euros. By contrast, the most expensive bike is sold in the Netherlands – 844 euro.

In the Netherlands, about one million bicycles are sold annually. If considering also the production of components and accessories, Romania takes the third place in Europe.

Bicycle manufacturing in Europe

Italy: 2.72 million

Germany: 2.1 million

Poland: 991,000

Bulgaria: 950,000

Netherlands: 850,000

Romania: 820,000

Source: European Bicycle Industry Association

Jul 242015

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg seems to make important steps toward becoming the richest person in the world.

According to Bloomberg billionaire list, the man behind the largest social network climbed to 9th position in the rankings of people with the greatest wealth on the planet.

Facebook founder’s fortune is estimated at 43.1 billion dollars, which means an increase of $8.6 billion compared to last year figure.

During his climb, Zuckerberg, 31, surpassed 89-year-old Ikea founder, Ingvar Kamprad, who dropped to tenth with a fortune estimated at 42.2 billion dollars, $2.8 billion less than the previous year, informs The Telegraph.