Playing the local game
International expertise and ethics are needed for Romania’s public finance market, finds Corina Mica as she speaks to Roxana Lazar, CEO of Dexia Kommunalkredit Romania
Foreign firms seem to trust more women’s courage in tackling sensitive issues in Romania, hence there seems to be a fashion of employing women to run multinationals in this country.
This happened in Dexia Kommunalkredit’s case, when Roxana Lazar dared to challenge one task book put out by the Brasov Local Council for a public finance auction.
Dexia appealed because five of seven conditions in the task book prevented the participation of a foreign bank in the tender. The complaint went to the National Appeal Resolution Council, which passed the decision in Dexia’s favour. Then Brasov Local Council rewrote the task book using conditions which allowed all banks to take part.
“We came second in that auction, but the fact that we did not win was not the main issue,” says Lazar. “It proved that women have more courage than men to fight all the way.”
"One of the hardest
challenges to face in Romania is making
yourself known to the client”
The CEO feels the local public finance and corporate market needs more involvement from international players, which would bring in increased competition and the pressure of international ethics. “Without such international input the local market can do nothing to upset its status-quo,” says Lazar.
|HOW SHE GOT HERE
CEO and board member Dexia Kommunalkredit Romania
Previous work experience:
“Almost two years after we stepped in we feel things have gone better than expected, in the sense that we penetrated this market quite easily,” says Lazar. “Looking at the portfolio of transactions we have closed, this has passed our initial forecasts. Romania and Slovakia are Dexia Kommunalkredit’s ‘superstars’ from this point of view.”
This is a pre-election year, so mayors nationwide
are more likely to look into infrastructure,
social housing and sewage projects”
The public finance entity has financed projects worth 570 million Euro since stepping into the Romanian market, out of which 170 million Euro were made in the first two months of this year. This year the bank has lent 100 million Euro to the Ministry of Public Finance to allow it finance its part of the Bucharest-Constanta highway project. Dexia lent 60 million Euro to the city of Iasi and ten million Euro to the municipality of Lugoj, Timis county - both in loans for infrastructure works.
Lazar feels one of the hardest challenges to face in Romania is “making yourself known” to the client. “In this line of business we deal with public authority clients, for whom international experience and a leading position in the public finance world is not that important,” she says. “This is a pressure element we had to face, and what’s been the hardest was not the ‘fight’ with the competition, but having to educate the client.”
|DEXIA KOMMUNALKREDIT ROMANIA
Established in 2005 as a specialised public finance entity, 100 per cent owned by Dexia Kommunalkredit Bank (Dexia-Kom)
Total value of contracts signed: 570 million Euro, 170 million Euro of which in just two months in 2007
Clients: Public authorities (municipalities, counties and central administration) and utilities
Specialisations: Projects in a wide range of fields, including health, infrastructure (road,
Last year the Government decentralised the control of regional finances to local municipalities in a move that has empowered local Government.
“This is a pre-election year, so mayors nationwide are more likely to look into infrastructure, social housing and sewage projects,” says Lazar. “We we are fully prepared to bring in our knowledge to such projects.”
Who is Roxana Lazar?
Dexia Kommunalkredit’s 40-year old CEO would have loved to be a shrink had she not been leading the public finance entity.
“It’s interesting as a line of business, because you get to see how people think,” she says. “And in this line of business, you cannot actually ‘read’ Romania’s politicians, they are surrounded by a Chinese wall and a tremendous amount of work is needed to earn their trust.”
But in the meantime, she focuses on running everyday business at Dexia Kommunalkredit’s Bucharest office, despite the fact that she misses the structures from the other banks she used to work in.
“Here we outsource almost all our activities,” she says, “the accounting, the legal and the IT systems, and I miss strategising and the time to thoroughly think issues through. The team is quite small, and I am not an inflexible person, but sometimes I just feel there’s too much to handle.”