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Romania's banks fight for the middle ground

With lending to small and medium-size enterprises and the provision of retail products the fastest-growing and most lucrative parts of Romania's financial services sector, banks are slogging it out for market share.

Gelin: "foreign inflows will be good
for the leu as the central bank has
a strong-currency policy"

BANCA COMERCIALA ROMANA is the biggest bank in Romania and one of the two that is state owned. Following privatizations at the end of the 1990s, BCR is slugging it out with foreign banks that dominate the sector as all Romania's banks chase the burgeoning retail business. Strong economic growth is feeding through fast and bolstering balance sheets in the tiny banking sector. BCR added €1.6 billion to its €6 billion of assets last year and medium- and long-term loans overtook short-term credits for the first time: 65% of the bank's loan portfolio matures after five or more years.

"It means our companies are investing more to modernize and upgrade their production, which in turn is supporting the development of the banking sector. Our potential keeps growing," says Nicolae Danila, chairman and CEO of Banca Comerciala Romana.

BCR is a universal commercial bank built on the remnants of the communist-era state industrial bank and easily the biggest bank in the country.

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