Thomas Debelic, Commerzbank: The financial crisis arrived with a significant delay in Romania

Romanian will be hit by global financial crisis despite the 8% economic growth and the impact can be forceful at the level of real economy, by reduction of consumption rate, said Thomas Debelic, representative of Commerzbank, Germany’s second biggest bank.

“Romania is surely not an island and the financial crisis will spread in Romania, but the clients deposits are safe as the Romanian banking system is solid and Romanian Central Banks reaction was appropriate and highly professional.”

“The crisis is only at the beginning in Romania and globally speaking, we are still not at the end of the tunnel. There won’t be any recession here, but next year, the economic growth will see a decline, however is hard to determine exactly its extent,” Thomas Debelic stated to Wall-Street.

According to him, Romanian banks will be affected too, apart from the retailers and car importers, even if their financial status is solid, as their parent companies are already crippled by the international squeeze. “Romania is not an island, and the crisis did spread in the banks’ subsidiaries here”, Debelic added.

For the Romanian banking system, the year 2009 will be the year of strengthening the market, in the context of system overheating, triggered by the aggressive expansion of the banks, which will back down pace next year. “It is too soon to talk about shutting down banking agencies or branches, whereas the development strategy will be more prudent,” Commerzbank representative said.

Another flaw of the banking system signaled by Thomas Debelic is the lack of specialized staff, as most of the banks in Romania have doubled assets and workforce. “I see a deterioration of quality of services provided by the banks in Romania. There are many German companies on domestic market that need financial services and, based on my previous experiences, they are facing a shortage of well-trained employees ready to provide good-quality advisory to German companies,” Debelic said.

He added that Romanian banking climate is not oversaturated, however the small banks will soon vanish within a swirling wave of mergers and acquisitions. “Romanian banking system is healthy in terms of retail and corporate, whereas banks should focus more on more simple products and services, to be understood both by seller and buyer, as it is in Germany”, Commerzbank’s representative concluded.

Commerzbank is considering any opportunity to “thrive” on the domestic market. “We are considering any opportunity to make move in the Romanian market, but both the integration process of Dresdner Bank and current market conditions are determine us to abort on short-term any plans to enter the Romanian market,” Debelic said.

Commerzbank has completed one of the biggest transactions in the German banking system by the take-over of Dresdner Bank, which was held by Allianz, for 9.8 billion euros.

“The high level of bilateral commercial trades between Romania and Germany are emphasizing the lack of a German banking player in the Romanian market,” Debelic pointed out.

Translated by Camelia Oancea

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