Daily Newsletter - 2 March 2023


Macroeconomic (3)
Financial (4)
Investment (3)
Legislative (3)
European News (1)
Social (2)
Global economy will avoid recession this year
At the end of 2022, analysts expected recession in the euro area and the United States in 2023, while the current figures show that this is far from materializing, according to iBanFirst specialists. They have also indicated that markets, central banks and companies will face difficulties, especially if the cost of capital continues to rise sharply.
Romania’s budget deficit exceeded RON 4 billion in January 2023
Romania’s budget deficit reached RON 4.02 billion in the first month of 2023, or 0.25% of GDP, amid 59.8% higher VAT refunds, a slowdown in revenues from tobacco excise taxes, a higher volume of settlements for goods and services for medicines, and an increase in the volume of investments, the Finance Ministry has transmitted. As a comparison, the budget ended January 2021 with a RON 1.69 billion deficit (0.13% of GDP).
Romanian entrepreneurs expect economic growth to slow down in 2023
Romanian entrepreneurs expect economic growth to slow down in 2023, but will not stop investments in 2023. The main investment priorities in 2023 will be digitalization, improvement of business processes and employees’ training. Radu Crăciun, a Macro-Economics professor at ASEBUSS, has stated that developed markets are faced with chronic labor shortages and there are some countries, including Romania, with large budget and current account deficits putting pressure on economy.
Revolut has reported its first year of profit after six years of successive losses
British financial service Revolut, used in Romania as well, has reported its first year of profit after six years of successive losses since its founding by entrepreneurs Nikolay Storonsky and Vlad Yatsenko. The fintech published its 2021 results with a delay, on Tuesday, 28 February 2023. The report shows that Revolut, valued at USD 33 billion, made net profit of 26.3 million Sterling pounds in 2021, after having ended 2020 with net losses of 223.6 million Sterling pounds. The company’s revenues nearly tripled compared to 2020, having reached 636.2 million Sterling pounds in 2021.
NBR’s foreign exchange reserves grew by EUR 1.8 bn in February, compared to end of January
The National Bank of Romania (NBR)’s foreign exchange reserves stood at EUR 52 billion at the end of February 2023, EUR 1.8 billion above the level reported at the end of January 2023, according to NBR data. EUR 3.25 billion inflows were recorded in February, representing changes in credit institutions’ foreign currency-denominated required reserves with the NBR, inflows into the Ministry of Finance’s accounts (including the amounts from the Ministry of Finance’s Eurobond issues with a total nominal value of EUR 2 billion), inflows into the European Commission’s account and other.
UniCredit Bank has launched this year’s edition of the New Home program
UniCredit Bank has launched the 2023 edition of the New Home program, in parallel with a special offer on the standard mortgage loan with fixed interest rate for the first five years of the crediting period and with an Annual Effective Rate (AER) starting from 8.15%. The interest rate for the mortgage loan starts from 6.9%/year in the first five years, for clients who collect their income into an open account with UniCredit Bank and have a valid life insurance. Starting from the sixth year, interest becomes variable, and is formed of IRCC + fixed margin of 2.1%/year, i.e. reduced AER of 7.81%/year.
Patria Bank doubled its net profit in 2022, to RON 20.2 million
Patria Bank, a credit institution owned by investment fund Emerging Europe Accession Fund, ended 2022 with a RON 20.2 million net profit, compared to RON 9.4 billion in 2021, and RON 194 million revenues, up by 18% year-on-year, according to the financial report published on Bucharest Stock Exchange on Wednesday, 1 March. At the end of last year, the bank had a RON 2.1 billion portfolio of performing loans, up by 11% against 2021, and RON 3.4 billion deposits, 4% more than in the previous year. Newly-grated loans totalled RON 968 million in 2022. Gross non-performing loans amounted to RON 168 million. Thus, the loans (gross value)/deposits ratio was 68%.
Lidl is to build the company’s largest warehouse in Romania, a EUR 40-50 million investment
Lidl, the leader of local food retail, which has a network of around 350 discount stores in Romania, is building its largest local warehouse, which will spread on eight hectares (80,500 square meters). The area is almost double the average of other logistics centers already existing in Romania, according to market data. On average, a 4-5 hectare logistics center costs EUR 20-30 million, so Lidl’s new investment could reach EUR 40-50 million, according to estimates.
Several companies in Romania will invest in research
Romanian companies such as Softronic from Craiova and Electroalfa from Botosani, as well as multinational companies, such as Schaeffler from Brasov are to invest RON 7.5 million in research for their own companies, through the state aid scheme for competitiveness, carried out by the Ministry of Economy. The companies have to come up with half of the investment and the rest is ensured through grants from the state budget. So far, financings have been signed for six companies: Softronic Craiova, Electroalfa Botoșani, Class Tex Satu Mare, Fiterman Pharma from Iași, Aerostar Bacău and Scheffler Romania.
Start-up Finmap has secured a new EUR 1 million investment round
Finmap, a Ukrainian cash flow management platform dedicated to small businesses, has secured a new investment round of EUR 1 million from Polish-American investment fund SMOK Ventures, as lead investor, and a number of investment funds and private investors, according to a press release. The cited source also indicates that SMOK Ventures’s co-founder and general partner Paul Bragiel has invested in more than 400 companies in his career, including UBER, Stripe, Niantic, Unity and Zappos, and this is the first time the fund has invested in a Ukrainian project.
Senate adopted draft law banning gambling advertising during the day
The Senate adopted, during the plenary session on Wednesday, with 80 votes "in favor" and two abstentions, the draft law submitted by the National Liberal Party (PNL), according to which gambling advertising will only be allowed between 23:00 and 6:00. The draft law bans all advertising and publicity for gambling, for operators who do not have an operating license and prohibits any form of audiovisual commercial communication for gambling activities presented or recommended by personalities in various fields.
President Klaus Iohannis promulgated the law amending and supplementing Law 143/2000
On Wednesday, 1 March, President Klaus Iohannis promulgated the law amending and supplementing Law 143/2000 on preventing and combating illicit drug trafficking and consumption and amending Law 194/2011 on combating operations with products likely to have psychoactive effects, other than those provided for by existing legislation, the Presidential Administration has transmitted. According to the normative act, the growing, supply, sale, distribution, procurement, purchase and possession of risk drugs are punished with 3 to 10 years in prison.
"Safe and Healthy Schools" National Investments Program has been adopted
Development Minister Cseke Attila has announced that the emergency ordinance approving the "Safe and Healthy Schools" National Investments Program, which will include all schools classified as seismic risk 1, was discussed and adopted during the government meeting on Wednesday. He has added that steps were established to streamline the implementation of these buildings’ consolidation projects, and the deadlines for issuing the necessary permits were reduced so that the actual works can begin as rapidly as possible.
European News 
EU negotiators have agreed on rules defining European green bonds
The European Parliament and member states reached an agreement on Tuesday (28 February) to establish requirements for a European green bond standard, to prevent financial greenwashing. The EU Commission first presented the proposal to regulate the use of the term "European green bond" – or EuGB – for environmentally sustainable bonds in July 2021. The aim of the regulation is to define which financial products can be labelled as European green bonds. This should help prevent the greenwashing of financial products – something that has been called out by both environmental organisations, like Greenpeace, and international financial institutions, like the International Monetary Fund.
Unemployment benefit and all social benefits will grow starting from 1 March 2023
Unemployment benefit and all social benefits related to the Social Reference Indicator (SRI) will grow starting from 1 March 2023 as a result of the 13.8% increase in this indicator. The value of the Social Reference Indicator will thus get from RON 525.5 in 2022 to RON 598 this year. Once the new value of the ISR is applied, the social allowance (guaranteed minimum income) will rise from RON 149 to RON 170 for a single person, and from RON 554 to 631 RON for a family of five.
There are currently 41,454 vacant jobs available in Romania
There are currently 41,454 vacant jobs available in Romania, while employers in the European Economic Area (EEA) offer 278 jobs for Romanian workers, according to data centralized by the National Employment Agency (ANOFM). Of the 41,454 vacant jobs declared by employers to employment agencies, 2,405 are for higher education graduates.