“There are signs that major Italian companies will invest in Romania’s infrastructure and energy market. Agriculture is also a field of interest for Italian investors, due to the EU’s structural funds Romania can tap into”, said Mario Iccarino, without adding further details about the potential investors.

Iaccarino said recently that Italy’s retail chain Conad was interested in opening a supermarket in Bucharest. “Conad will surely not make any move in Romania, at least not now, due to the poor market conditions. They have expressed their intention, without doing anything concrete”, Iaccarino explained.

Currently, of 27,000 Italian companies present in Romania, only 18,000 are operational. Generali Insurer, tyre manufacturer Pirelli or Enel, the largest private-owned electricity provider, are only a few examples. Enel is one of the biggest employers in Romania, with a headcount exceeding 5,000.

The minimum wage of Romanians employed in Italian companies’ local branches reach 250 euros net, according to Iaccarino, while Romanians working in Italy win four times more. “The majority of Romanians in Italy work in construction, agriculture and HoReCa. Of my experience, the minimum wage for Romanians in Italy is around 1,000-1,200 euros net, given the type of industry”. He added that nearly 1 million Romanians work in Italy at this point.

Around 15,000 Romanian companies operate in Italy, most of them as micro-enterprises. “Romanians who opened a business in Italy, invested in construction, services and food. Their businesses were not affected by financial crisis, as they try to be competitive in what they do, even outstripping the Italians”, Iccariano stressed.

The only noteworthy presence of a Romanian company in Italy is Jolidon, who acquired Lilly Italy in 2008, after buying Italian-based Emmeci a year earlier. Both companies acquired by Jolidon operate in light industry.