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C&EE: Engineering a debt management agency

Dragos Neacsu, a former civil engineer and latterly investment banker, has taken on the challenge of overcoming the many shortcomings of Romania's debt strategy from the foundations up.

Neacsu: aiming for
transformation in less than
a year

ASK ANYONE FAMILIAR with Romania's debt markets about the state treasury's reputation, and a picture swiftly emerges of an arbitrary issuer that could not be relied on to access the market predictably, let alone encourage its development.

It failed to communicate with the market; what's more, its creaky and inward-looking set-up meant it had little focus on preparing for the challenges of imminent membership of the EU.

"The ministry of finance used to be rather erratic about coming to market, and came with irregular maturities," says Dan Pascariu, chief executive of HVB Bank Romania in Bucharest. "There is a need to develop a yield curve and establish benchmark issues."

Romania's last foray into the international debt markets in 2003 only compounded its borrowing reputation internationally – the outcome was a €700 million seven-year Eurobond that, thanks to a decision to appoint four investment banks as lead managers and then make them split paltry fees for the privilege of arranging the deal, sank like a stone immediately after launch in the secondary markets.

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