Italian investors confront the crisis with Latin spirit

Newsroom 26/10/2009 | 15:33

“Since 2008 – an exciting growth year, when we had planned to open units in the country – we have slowed down our expansion pace. But we expect 2010 to be better; maybe we can recapture growth then,” said Paolo Menarbin, director of international clients and cross-border business management with UniCredit Tiriac Bank. Nusco Group, which runs both a furniture production business and a real estate development unit in Romania, has diversified. On the production side, under the Pinum Doors and Windows brand, the group has come up with a low-cost product, while keeping its plans in real estate development, said Michele Nusco, CEO of the group in Romania. “We expect the psychological crisis, the general market scare, to be over,” added Nusco. For Teleperformance, the call center operator, the turmoil has brought opportunity. “The crisis only did us good. It cleaned up the market; now there are maybe 20 percent fewer companies in our area of work. And it showed companies the benefits of outsourcing,” said Giorgio Modesti, CEO of Teleperformance Romania. Now the competition on this market is healthier, so the crisis was more than welcome, he went on. Others also took the glass-half-full approach. “The crisis made us reinvent ourselves, and we are all trying to find solutions, either going into low-cost products, or diversifying our business,” said Marco Rossetti, general manager of ArenaJobs. In his line of work, Rossetti has seen salary demands change from what used to be a combination of 30 percent value of the jobseeker and 70 percent speculative expectation, to a more balanced ratio, with the speculative component lower. Salary demands have dropped by 10 to 20 percent at least, he says. The media market has also been affected, with a drop of 36 percent in advertising revenues this year from last year, said Enrico Amat di San Filipo, managing partner with Blue Dolphin Media. He added that he expected a further drop, but a smaller one, in 2010, and no return to growth for the advertising market until 2013. As for what improvements these investors would like for the Romanian market, more efficiency in the services sector and Romanian investors getting more involved in the market were mentioned during the Italian Business Forum. A more stable political environment, as well as better customer service and relations, were also on the wish list. Finally, one major problem is the lack of proper infrastructure, which has put a stop on or delayed many private investments in the country. But the downturn has taught investors some important lessons. “This period has helped me realize the actual value of the products and services we are offering,” said Rossetti of ArenaJobs. It was a good time to asses the real worth of products and services on the Romanian market, he added.

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