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Rebranding CEC Bank

Tuesday, 6 May 2008, the oldest bank in Romania launched its new identity.  CEC celebrates this year its 144th anniversary and decided to change its image and name into CEC Bank. On this occasion, the institution launched several novel products and services.

The event gathered together some 400 people, among which were Mr. Calin Popescu Tariceanu, the Romanian Prime-Minister, Mr. Mugur Isarescu, the Governor of the National Bank of Romania, Mr. Varujan Vosganian, the Minister of Economy and Finance, the executive management of CEC Bank consisting of Mr. Radu Gratian Ghetea, President, Mr. Cristian Tudorancea, Mr. Gheorghe Carabasan and Mrs. Mihaela Lucica Popa, vice presidents, CEC Bank Board members, namely Mr. Sebastian Vladescu, Mr. Catalin Doica, Mrs. Alice Cezarina Bitu, Mr. Daniel Chitoiu, Mr. Bogdan Hutuca, Mr. Ciprian Badea and Mr. Serban Pop, as well as media representatives, head-office directors, trade union leaders from around the country.

In his opening speech, Mr. Radu Gratian Ghetea, the President of the CEC Bank, pointed out some of the bank’s objectives for the period ahead. For 2008, CEC Bank aims at boosting its activity to levels above those envisaged by the banking system as a whole, i.e. a 48 per cent rise in the loan portfolio and a 41 per cent expansion in the portfolio of deposits from non-bank customers. Until 2011, the bank seeks to increase its market share in terms of asset value by 1-2 percentage points, from 4.2 per cent at present to 5-6 per cent. CEC Bank is to focus largely on attaining the strategic goals announced for the first development stage – until 2009 –, namely revamping and optimizing the effectiveness of the bank.

Mr. Radu Gratian Ghetea, the President of the CEC Bank, stated that the credit institution will target especially the use of EU funds. He dwelled on this subject by adding that 12 per cent of total loans granted to legal entities consist in loans for the development of the agricultural sector and “more than 80 per cent of those entitled to be paid subsidies per one hectare came to CEC Bank to access the funds needed for harnessing the land under crop. This spring roughly 400,000 hectares of land were prepared for being cultivated by resorting to funds disseminated via CEC Bank”. Furthermore, Mr. Radu Gratian Ghetea touched upon the possibility of CEC Bank to strike a partnership arrangement with the EBRD in order to facilitate the fulfilment of the bank’s strategic objectives.

Along with the ceremony of launching the new image, the President of CEC Bank also introduced to the general public the bank’s new products and services: CECONLINE, the Internet banking service; the classical card MasterCard embossed for individuals; the credit line for investment, the bridging loan and the investment loan intended for economic agents and general governments willing to access European funds; CREDITLIFE, the mortgage credit including a free life insurance policy targeting individuals a.s.o. 
 
Mr. Mugur Isarescu, the Governor of the National Bank of Romania, said that with the rebranding of CEC the banking system overhaul that began back in the ’90s has come to an end. “In my opinion, the rebranding and the ensuing rebirth hint at the end of bank reform that commenced as early as 1990”, he added.

Prime-Minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu said that the future activity of CEC Bank could serve the purposes of as many as possible categories of potential customers: “Indeed we need a bank capable of fulfilling the needs of the inhabitants of rural areas, those of people in small towns, where large banks have failed to gain a foothold”. The Prime-Minister expressed his confidence the bank’s in management, adding that privatisation could have prevented the bank from meeting the needs of its traditional customers: “I do not think CEC could have fulfilled the requirements of its customers in the post-privatisation phase since the new owner would have only sought to make a profit (…) As far as I'm concerned, the failed privatisation of CEC was not necessarily a bad thing, but yet another challenge and back then I thought that we could entrust the bank an ambitious objective capable of meeting to a greater extent the needs of the Romanian economy and society”.

Mr. Varujan Vosganian, the Minister of Economy and Finance, stated that, thanks to the fact that the institution enjoys government backing, CEC found itself across the years in an unfair competition with the other banks and this contributed to its losing market share. The Finance Minister mentioned that that the bank was never in need to resort to the Romanian government’s backing, even though it could have benefited from it, adding that “CEC always enjoyed a backing even stronger than sovereign backing, i.e. a high level of professionalism. In a market economy it is not the nature of property that counts, but the quality of management.”  Vosganian underscored the role of the state, which was itself a good manager and chose well-qualified managers, thereby succeeding in strengthening the bank’s already high prestige. “Last year’s figures”, he added, “show that the managerial team earned good results, comparable with those of any other bank in the country (…) We decided to raise the bank’s share capital, as proof of our confidence in the managerial team and of our hope in potential customers”.

The Minister of Economy and Finance also made a brief overview of the Romanian banking system. He emphasised that in 2000 the loans outstanding were still in the single-digit region, and they almost doubled in 2004, reaching 40 per cent in 2008.

On the occasion of launching the new image of CEC Bank, a free concert was held in George Enescu Square in Bucharest on Wednesday, 7 May 2008. Taking part in the concert were “Directia 5” group and its guests – Replik group, Andra and Mandinga group. Andra together with Mandinga will tour ten cities across the country to make the general public more familiar with the bank’s new name from 16 May to 15 June