The Romanian banking system prepares for a fast autumn after a mild month of August where the sole show was provided by the Romanian Commercial Bank, recently bought by Erste Bank. The coming period promises more speed with the privatization of the Romanian Savings House and the HVB-Tiriac-Unicredit merger.

The privatization of the Romanian Commercial Bank - BCR received the approval of the Competition Council on August 7 as the Council decided that the sale to Erste Bank did not involve tokens of state assistance.

The Council gave green light despite several difficulties related to the fact that BCR was forced to absorb the activities of a bankrupt bank, Bancorex, at a time of serious troubles for the whole Romanian economy, in the late nineties.

Solved problems for BCR

But the Competition Council approval did not put an end to all the problems. The specialized commissions of the Romanian senate were forced to convene in an extraordinary session later in August because they had not finalized a report on the privatization of BCR before the MPs left for their summer break.

On August 29, however, the members of the judicial, privatization and budget-finance commissions of the Romanian Senate managed to approve their report on the governmental ordinance on the privatization of the Bank.

By acquiring some 61.8% of the BCR, Erste Bank becomes the uncontested leader of the Romanian banking sector. Which does not mean others just sit and look. According to the August 22 issue of the Gandul newspaper, this autumn will see the major changes with the privatization of the Romanian Savings House - CEC and the conclusion of the merger between HVB, Banca Tiriac and UniCredit Romania.

A series of other, smaller banks are also preparing to sell their businesses in the coming period, according to Gandul.

UniCredit aims high

And on August 30, UnCredit Romania announced that the two subsidiaries of the UnCredit Group in the country, HVB Leasing and UniCredit Leasing, were getting ready for the merger process with the designation of the members of the future Direction Committee of the new entity.

UniCredit Romania says the merger will generate the biggest leasing company in Romania, with a market share of 14% and net total assets of over 500 million euro by the end of 2006.