September, 26th 2012 - bloomberg.com

EDP-Energias de Portugal SA acquired a portfolio of solar projects in Romania with total capacity of 60 megawatts, Ziarul Financiar reported, citing Monica Cojocaru, a lawyer in charge of the sale.

EDP, Portugal’s biggest utility, may spend about 120 million euros ($154 million) on the projects, the newspaper said, citing its own calculation.

The Portuguese company also bought a 28-megawatt wind project, adding to its existing projects in Romania, ZF cited Cojocaru

 

September, 26th 2012 - bloomberg.com

Investors from Poland and the Czech Republic expressed interest to buy a majority stake in Romania’s unprofitable rail freight company, CFR Marfa SA, Ziarul Financiar reported.

Other Romanian transport companies may also be interested in the stake, the newspaper said, citing CFR Marfa’s Chief Executive Officer Constantin Zaharia.

Romania pledged to sell its stake in CFR Marfa as part of a precautionary accord with the International Monetary Fund and the European Union.

 

October 11th, 2012 - www.phys.org

Romania rising as New World of wine in 'old' Europe October 11, 2012 by Isabelle Wesselingh "The conditions to make wine here are world-class," says Walter Friedl, the Austrian co-owner of the Lacerta winery Enlarge Hand pickers harvest grapes at Lacerta winery in Dealu Mare, Bucharest.

On the gentle slopes of the Dealu Mare (Big Hill) region, winemakers are striving to make Romania the New World of wine in Europe"The conditions to make wine here are world-class," says Walter Friedl, the Austrian co-owner of the Lacerta winery. "We are here at 45 degrees of latitude and we have conditions like in Bordeaux or Tuscany," he adds, speaking from his vaulted cellar, where wine matures in oak barrels made in France, Hungary and Russia as well as Romania.

Outside, pickers are harvesting grapes on the picturesque hills. Friedl and his Romanian business partner Mihai Banita run an 82-hectare (200-acre) estate in Romania's southern Dealu Mare region, about an hour's drive from Bucharest. The winery has a state-of-the-art processing unit that uses gravity to process grapes and a terrace overlooking the hills to welcome oenophile tourists. Forty percent of the eight million euros ($10 million) invested in the estate was provided by European funds for development granted to Romania as a new EU member.

With the exceptional sunshine of eastern Europe and Mediterranean air masses coming from the south, Dealu Mare is seen by specialists as one of the most favourable areas for wine.

Some influential oenologists, such as Bordeaux-based Michel Rolland, predict the Black Sea region—countries such as Romania, Bulgaria, Moldova and Armenia—will be the next big thing in the world of fine wines.

The 82-hectare (200-acre) Lacerta estate in Romania's southern Dealu Mare region is about an hour's drive from Bucharest Enlarge Hand pickers harvest grapes at Lacerta winery in Dealu Mare, Bucharest. The winery has a state-of-the-art processing unit that uses gravity to process grapes and a terrace overlooking the hills to welcome oenophile tourists. "We see a new world inside Europe. Romania, Bulgaria, they are... our Australia or our Chile," Friedl told AFP. "In a way, you can say that Romania is the New World of the Old Wine World," says Bogdan Costachescu, oenologist for one of Romania's top quality winemakers, Davino, pointing to the growing success of the country's wines.

Romania grows international classics like Merlot, Cabernet-Sauvignon or Riesling, but also boasts unique local grape varieties. "We are not only making the umpteenth quality Merlot," explains Banita, of the Lacerta winery. "We have our own Feteasca Neagra"—a red—"and its dried-prune aroma. Also Feteasca Alba or Tamaioasa," two white varieties.

"Some bottles are now selling for 60 euros and they deserve this price," says Cristian Preotu, the manager of Romania's Comtesse du Barry delicatessen stores.

But while Romania may look like a newcomer on the international wine map, the country is actually rediscovering a tradition dating back to antiquity and praised by the Latin poet Ovid. That ancient wine-making tradition suffered a near-fatal blow during the Communist dictatorship that ruled the country from 1945 to 1989. "The Communists collectivised the vineyards. They focused on quantity not on quality. Everything was poured into the same vat," Preotu explains.

Romania grows international classics like Merlot, Cabernet-Sauvignon or Riesling, but also boasts local grape varieties Enlarge Walter Friedl, who co-owns Lacerta winery. "We are here at 45 degrees of latitude and we have conditions like in Bordeaux or Tuscany," he said from his vaulted cellar, where wine matures in oak barrels made in France, Hungary and Russia as well as Romania.

After the fall of late dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, winemakers and oenologists started to strive for a renaissance. A French earl and winemaker, Guy Tyrel de Poix, was one of the first to embrace the Romanian "terroir" and opened his Terra Romana winery in 1994. "That was a turning point. He brought up a lot of savoir-faire," Banita says. "When I decided to start making wine in the late 1990s, Romania was producing mainly white, sweet wine, in huge quantities, and cheap," recalls Dan Balaban, one of the co-founders of the Davino winery, also in Dealu Mare. "I decided to do the opposite: produce mainly red, in small quantities, and to sell it for a higher price," he adds.

With France's prestigious Bordeaux estates as role models, Balaban is running a 68-hectare vineyard in the bucolic village of Ceptura. He kept the estate's 40-year-old vines to produce the Davino label, which is sold only in delicatessens, top-end restaurants or to private customers. Recently, a French client bought 20,000 euros' worth of Davino wine in one go. Despite their growing success, the owners of Davino and Lacerta complain Romanian wines have had trouble escaping their negative image. "There should be a national campaign to help promote the quality of our wines abroad," says Balaban. So far Romania, the sixth-biggest wine producer in the EU, is exporting only three percent of its wine output, far behind countries like France or Italy. But with or without a public relations campaign, Bogdan Costachescu, the oenologist at Davino, says the estate will continue making wine with passion. "Wine is like art, the essence of life. At every tasting, I feel like a painter before a private viewing, hoping the wines we make will touch the ones who drink them," Costachescu says.

 

October 2nd, 2012 - romanianewswatch.com

GURA VADULUI, Romania (Reuters) - Can the latest fad for wine enthusiasts possibly come from an eastern European country whose wine-growing traditions are as old as Christianity?

Romania is the sixth-largest wine grower in the European Union and its enthusiastic proponents say the aspect of its 180,000 hectares of vineyards, unique soil, unusual grapes and inexpensive costs make it a producer to watch.

"What is unique about Romania is certainly the soils that can give unique characteristics to the wine," said Stephen Donnelly, oenologist of the Budureasca vineyard some 90 km northeast of capital Bucharest.

Romania's wine region lies on its western coast alongside the Black Sea, where vineyards dot the mostly sunny slopes and play home to grapes with names such as Feteasca Neagra and Tamaioasa Romaneasca.

"The two varieties I get most asked for when I do shows in London are Feteasca Neagra and Tamaioasa Romaneasca, which are both indigenous varieties," Donnelly told Reuters. "Because everyone has tasted Merlot from Chile, Argentina, so it's nothing special there."

The Tamaioasa grape has ancient Greek origins and has been cultivated in Romania for more than two thousand years.

"Pale straw in color, strong aroma of elderflower, strong flavors of fresh lychee, and with a soft natural sweetness and a long finish," is how Donnelly described the wine.

LIMESTONE STRENGTH

Price-wise it's competitive with its established European rivals in the export market and one of the very few sectors of the Romanian economy that is attracting EU development funds.

A bottle of Budureasca's finest wine can be bought in EU shops for as little as 6 euros ($7.74). Compare that to a Carignan varietal particular to France's less-lauded Languedoc wine region which costs 7.49 pounds ($12.10) at a British online wine shop or a mid-level Margaux from Bordeaux at 14.99 pounds ($24.21).

The Budureasca winery, whose name comes from an ancient Dacian archaeological site, exports a meagre five percent of its wine to Canada, Belgium, Sweden and Germany and plans to expand its export base to United States and across northern Europe.

"Its soils, the southern exposure, on 45 degrees are on a parallel with Bordeaux ... and limestone gives strength and mildness to red wines," Budureasca director Dumitru Varga said.

Many western importers have yet to see Romania as a member of the world's select wine club and the country suffers from a reputation for widespread graft, cumbersome commercial practices and shaky political foundations.

"The problem we had and we are still having is the fact that Romania's image is a bit stained," said Gabriel Lacureanu, oenologist at the nearby Basilescu winery.

Although Romania uses modern wine-making technology, a winter freeze and this summer's scorching temperatures hit production, estimated to drop 30 percent from 4.1 million hectoliters in 2011 when it exported only 130,000 hl. 
Imports were nine times larger.

"Romania has a great future. When I do (go to) London I see we have a nice big stand with Romania," Lacureanu said. "But we're standing there trying to literally grab people to come in and it's a shame." ($1 = 0.7749 euros) ($1 = 0.6192 British pounds)

 

October 22, 2012 - romanianewswatch.com

A diversified economy with good potential for income growth and increased competitiveness, low government debt ratios and an improving fiscal situation. Not a bad report for one of the EU’s poorest countries, wracked in recent years by first economic and political crises.

These are the conclusions of the annual credit report on Romania published by Moody’s. says the country’s Baa3 government bond rating is supported by the fundamentals – which is reassuring even though Moody’s is keeping Romania on “negative” ratings watch. The report is weighed down by the usual caveats about Romania – its bloatedpublic sector, exposure to the eurozone crisis, low levels of current GDP growth and a propensity for political wobbles.

Moody’s evaluates a country’s sovereign rating on its position in four areas: “economic strength, institutional strength, government financial strength and susceptibility to event risk – as well as the interplay between them”. In each, the agency currently rates Romania as “moderate”.

A press release issued publicising the report said that it took into account:

The country’s diversified economic base and potential for future increases in competitiveness and incomes, relatively low government debt ratios, access to multilateral financial support, and continued improvement in the fiscal balance despite political volatility this year. The rating agency notes the credit challenges posed by Romania’s balance-of-payments vulnerabilities manifested in its current account deficit and its relatively high level of external debt, with significant annual repayment obligations. Other credit challenges incorporated in the rating are the reliance of many of Romania’s banks on foreign (largely euro area) parent bank funding, as well as the country’s poor record in state enterprise performance and privatisation.

It’s been a grim few years for Romania: it enjoyed rapid growth in the last decade, but came a cropper in the wake of the global economic crisis, which exposed the economy’s weaknesses, and led to a deep recession in 2009, when the economy contracted by 7.1 per cent.

Pro-cyclical fiscal loosening in the boom years has been followed by equally pro-cyclical austerity, which led to street protests earlier this year and the toppling of the government in April. The new, socialist-led administration has been heaped with opprobrium by the EU and other international organisations for moves seen as attacks on the constitution and independent national bodies.

The Moody’s report thus serves as a useful reminder that Romania isn’t all bad. Economic growth is picking up, though forecast economic growth of 2.5 per cent next year is still pretty low by emerging market standards. Efforts to consolidate the budget have made progress, and while the deficit widened to 1.17 per cent in August, that’s a respectable figure by comparison with many European countries.

The eurozone crisis looms large over Romania. The Moody’s report suggests that if and when the crisis reaches resolution, Romania may be left in much the same position as it was in 2009: with plenty of potential, but some serious structural issue to address.

 

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