President Costea, EximBank is celebrating 20 years of activity this year. I suggest we travel a little back in time… How did your bank appear in the Romanian financial and banking system? In 1991, Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (CMEA) was self-dissolving and Romania was becoming aware that its export support policy required a new turn and new coordinates. The lack of centralised trade in the group of Socialist states was leaving Romania in a state of imponderability, looking for its anchors. At that time, the Governor of the National Bank, Mr. Mugur Isarescu, was assigning to Mr. Petru Rares the mission of setting up the first Romanian agency for the support of exporters. As a matter of fact, the idea of founding export support agencies had come up 72 years before, in 1919, when the first such organisation was opened in Great Britain – Export Credits Guarantee Department and the first bank called ‘EximBank’ was founded in the United States of America in 1933. The Romanian EximBank received its birth certificate on April 8, 1992.How would you describe the evolution of EximBank so far?
Upon its foundation, the bank only had its headquarters – hosted at the BNR building – 113 employees and a registered capital of RON 3 M (ROL 30 bn). Today, after 20 years of activity, EximBank has nine branches, three agencies, 348 employees, a registered capital of RON 800 M and a portfolio including 40 products exclusively addressed to companies irrespective of their size or business specificity. The bank has been constantly preoccupied with turning the role that had been entrusted to it into a reality of Romanian economy. If we take the financial results reported in the last three years, we will notice that, while foreign banks have re-considered their exposure in the Romanian economy, EximBank has reported a notable growth of its total exposure in the real economy (from RON 0.5 bn in 2008 to RON 1.4 bn on April 30, 2012), and assets on December 31, 2011, were worth RON 4.2 bn, 43 per cent higher than the value reported at the end of 2008. A special position in the achievement of such financial performance was held by the guarantees offered by EximBank, standing at over RON 2 bn on April 30, 2012 and perhaps the most important aspect regarding them is that, by using this instrument, local companies could benefit from over RON 3 bn worth of financing from lenders. Last, at a time when the banking sector goes through a more special period, EximBank’s cumulated gross profit in 2008-2011 was approximately RON 420 M. All these are aspects that clearly highlight the importance of EximBank in supporting the business environment in this country.
Would you please give us a few examples of successes in your bank’s recent activity?
The bank’s activity indeed offers quite numerous examples of companies that, using the products on the EximBank portfolio, on its various axes – financing, guarantees and insurance – have successfully consolidated their business, contributing to a sustainable growth of the business environment in our country. I can name a few of our biggest transactions and through which, in partnership with two companies – Grup Servicii Petroliere and Astra Vagoane Arad – we have been able to support Romanian exports worth over EUR 500 M. Another example is that the Severnav Shipyard keeps launching ship after ship lately, all with EximBank financing, the grain silo in the Constanta Port bears the ‘Financed by EximBank’ mark and the Romcab works near Targu Mures – one of this country’s major exporters – are supported by our financing products and sovereign guarantees. I also believe that EximBank understood in due time that agriculture is a sector with a bright future in Romania, one in which investment needs to be made, therefore in our portfolio there are such transactions as well. Last, the bank’s contribution to a faster absorption of European funds has been significant as far as companies such as Solarex are concerned – which developed a touristic project in Satu Mare – or Orion Auto Invest Arges – receiving financing for the procurement of machines and equipment meant to grow its productivity and competitiveness. I encourage Romanian companies to come to us and benefit both from the EximBank products as well as customised combinations of products our consultants are able to put together for them according to the specific profile of the activity of our clients.What is the ‘recipe’ for EximBank’s success?
We can, indeed, state that the bank’s results reflect the fact that the currently implemented business model is a robust one, creating the premises for continuing to give support to the Romanian business environment. Besides the measures taken to restructure activity, the cutback on analysis times as well as the expansion of the products’ portfolio, the bank has been in permanent dialogue with associations and organisations representing the local business community (National Association of Romanian Importers and Exporters (ANEIR), National Council for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (CNIPMM), bilateral and local chambers of commerce, Romanian Employers’ Associations, etc…) that have offered us an important support in identifying the actual needs of Romanian enterprises. Our priority has been not only to listen to the voice of the clients, but also to build a solid relationship, a sustainable partnership with them. In addition, EximBank also benefits from the contribution of a highly professional team, where the experience and dedication of long-standing specialists in the banking system stand next to the enthusiasm and openness to novelty of our younger colleagues. To summarise, EximBank proposes a working model which includes an attention to our own procedures, its permanent attunement to the reality represented by Romanian companies and a valuable team, capable of sustained effort. I am convinced that, in this way, EximBank will be able to continue bringing a decisive contribution to the sustainable development of Romanian economy.