Many were surprised when the British company Cordea Savills was announced as the consultant to draw up the investments strategy for Proprietatea Fund, following a bid that involved many renowned experts such as Frank Russel Company, that managed funds of over 2.4 trillion dollars, or Citigroup.
The Proprietatea Fund was established last year to compensate people in unsolved retrocession cases related to properties confiscated by the Communist regime.
Analysts say the company does not have the adequate know-how whereas the PR Department of the Fund justifies its choice based exclusively on the best price.
The Fund was established in 2005 in order to provide restitution to the victims of the abusive confiscations of their homes and properties by the Communist authorities after 1945. The Proprietatea Fund is currently run by a "Supervisory Council" which responds to the Ministry of Finance, until a Fund Manager is selected by the Romanian authorities.
Cordea Savills is to assist the authorities in choosing a Fund Manager and to draw up a strategy for the new management. "The group Savills PLC, to which Cordea Savills belongs, is a company specialized in financial consultancy and management of similar funds. The Savills network boasts 14,000 employees and operates on 5 continents" says the PR manager of the Proprietatea Fund, Cristina Stihi.
However, a simple search operation on the company’s website (www.cordeasavills.com) reveals that the winner Cordea Savills is mostly specialised in real estate business, not in financial consultancy.
"In my opinion, the company is not a good option as it lacks the necessary know-how and the experience in the field of assets characteristic to funds such as Propritetea.
How can Cordea Savills claim to manage a portfolio of assets that have no connection to real estate field and without any previous experience on the emerging market? Moreover, the company under consideration activates in Great Britain and in Canada, countries with very different realities from Romania’s," says Matei Paun, partner with the investments company BAC.
The Proprietatea Fund spokesperson considers it has made a good choice. "Cordea Savills is the division specialized on management of funds, possessions and patrimonies and not only on real estate investments," according to PR manager.
Paun considers that it is erroneous, in the first place, to choose a company to work on a management strategy that will be implemented by another manager. "If things go wrong they will blame each other," says Paun, who questions the bidding criteria as well.
"It is inadmissible that the Romanian state cannot afford to hire a prestigious company for this fund and acts only on financial criteria. Good managers are not cheap, but by taking into consideration only money, one risks to end up with bad managers," adds Paun.
The Fund currently has a portfolio of shares in 114 entities, including some of Romania’s best-known companies, such as Transelectrica, the National Lottery, Transgaz, Romtelecom, Posta Romania, Petrom, Romtelecom, the National Printing House, the various "Electrica" and "Distrigaz" utilities, the Metrorex transportation utility, as well as the Henri Coanda, Baneasa, Constanta, and Timisoara airports, and the Galati and Giurgiu maritime ports.
The total assets currently held by the Fund have been estimated at almost €4 billion.