Taking pole position when the east European economies opened at the beginning of the 1990s, Stefano Albarosa gained an early lead on the best opportunities in Romanian business
Realising a strong opportunity and offering customers a full package of services has helped Italian mixed interest group Cefin grow from zero into a multitude of sectors in Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary from car parts manufacture to luxury residences over the last 13 years.
Pioneering this development is 40 year-old Stefano Albarosa, CEO of Cefin. He believes Romania’s commercial transport market will continue to see a dynamic development despite slowdowns experienced this year. This sector will register a 15 to 20 per cent rise this year and Albarosa expects to see further year-on-year rises of ten to 15 per cent. This compares to other European countries, which have witnessed growth of only five to six per cent in the last year.
“The Bulgarian market, although smaller, shows a similar trend to Romania, while the Hungarian market has stabilised, which is an effect of that economy’s zero growth this year,” Albarosa adds.
Working for commercial vehicle brand Iveco as a development representative for Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria in the early 1990s, Stefano Albarosa studied the Romanian transport market and noticed its lack of development and service options.
“I saw the enormous potential of the Romanian market and the similarities between Romanians and Italians,” says Albarosa. “Romania lacked serious investors in the commercial vehicles and spare parts market, as well as quality services for transporters.”
Cefin was set up in 1995 by the Italian Albarosa and Orecchia families around Cefin Autovehicule Comerciale, the Iveco dealer and service provider. The company offered the full package for corporates looking to purchase trucks - sales financing and leasing services, spare parts, service centres in addition to vehicle supply. “This was something completely new on the market,” says Albarosa.
The initial investment in the company stood at 25 million DM (around 12 million Euro) and, after a long series of capital increases and development loans, has reached 40 million Euro today.
Cefin started with four employees, which increased to over 1,400 this year. From the beginning the company registered an annual 25 to 30 per cent growth rate and was able to expand to Timisoara, Ploiesti, Pitesti and Galati. Cefin’s CEO predicts exceeding 25 per cent growth of the business this year compared to 2007 and is also targeting a pre-tax profit growth of 35 per cent on the previous year.
Cefin has an investments plan of around 16 million Euro this year for its five divisions. The company expanded this year with sales points and service centres in Iasi, Bacau, Targu Mures, Sibiu, Suceava and Buzau and will open three new vehicles sales locations in Galati, Arad and Bucharest and 11 new spare parts distribution points.
In manufacture, the company owns three vehicle body constructor ‘Eurobody’ factories in Cluj-Napoca, Timisoara and Bucharest. Cefin will open two more production facilities soon. This includes a new Eurobody Factory in Cluj-Napoca, due to open in 2009 and the Astra Bus Factory, a trolleybus producer, in Arad.
The dealer of Iveco trucks, plans to increase its market share from 9.5 per cent in 2008 to 11 per cent in 2010, with the delivery of 4,000 new trucks and 2,000 second hand trucks. In 2007 Cefin Autovehicule Comerciale registered a 44 per cent market share of the Iveco vehicles delivered in Romania.
In 2001 Cefin’s real estate division started developing products for third parties and today has a project portfolio worth 600 million Euro
This year the company will deliver its first luxury residential project located in Bucharest in the diplomatic heartland of Aleea Alexandru.
The company is also working on the expansion with 50,000 sqm of Cefin Logistic Park Bucharest, built on the Bucharest-Pitesti motorway, with a total built area of 330,000 sqm. Cefin A1 Business Park on the Bucharest-Pitesti motorway will have another 60,000 built sqm this year, of the total 150,000 sqm targeted for this project.
In 2009 Cefin will complete works on the residential development Cortina Residence, located north of Bucharest in Pipera-Tunari, including 280 apartments.
The group is also investing this year 40 million Euro in the development of the Ferrari-dealing Forza Rossa Office & Retail Centre located on national road DN1 from Bucharest to Otopeni, with a total area of 26,000 sqm. Construction works have begun and are due for completion at the beginning of 2010. Last August the company started work on a residential and mixed project in Bucharest, on Blvd Barbu Vacarescu including 50,000 sqm of offices, a five star hotel comprising 300 rooms and a conference centre for 2,000 people, as well as 10,000 sqm of commercial spaces to be delivered by 2011. The company will also build a 300-apartment residential project in Timisoara, on Strada Balea, in partnership with Heitman Investments Fund.
Cefin owns over two million sqm of land plots in Bucharest, Arad, Sibiu, Suceava, Targu-Mures and Iasi, for the development of real estate projects over the next four years.
“We have secured more than two million sqm of lands which will give us the possibility to develop first class real estate products over the next three to four years,” says Albarosa. “Any new land acquisition will be strictly opportunistic.”
by Corina Ilie