BCR ACCUSED OF ABUSE AGAINST THE MINORITY SHAREHOLDERS
BURSA 04.06.2014

ADINA ARDELEANU (translated by Cosmin Ghidoveanu)
 
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     *  Through a decision made in the General Shareholder Meeting, the bank may dilute the stake of SIF Oltenia
     *  Lawyer Cristian Duțescu: "The right to delegate the right of first refusal can not be delegated, this action represents a violation of law 31"
       SIF5 Oltenia has filed a lawsuit against Banca Comercială Română (BCR), requesting the cancellation of a decision of the General Shareholder Meeting of April 28th, which would have allowed the bank to dilute the 6% stake of SIF5, starting with the following share capital increases.
     SIF Oltenia informs that the decision of the General Shareholder Meeting of BCR which is being contested grants the bank the ability to limit the shareholders' right of first refusal for share capital increases under certain conditions: "Exclusively in relation to share capital increases in compliance with the provisions of art. 5.2, the Executive Committee is being granted, for every share capital increase made up to the level of the Authorized Share capital, the ability to decide on restraining or removing the right of first refusal of the bank's shareholders, in compliance with the applicable law and with the condition that such a restraining or removal of the right of preemption be justified by the time constraints pertaining to the implementation of the share capital increase in question".
     Lawyer Cristian Duțescu told us that the lifting of the right of pre-emption can not be delegated and it is a function of the General Shareholder Meeting, under certain circumstances.
     "The law no. 31/1990 concerning the operation of companies and the 297 concerning the stock market have been clearly broken, beyond any doubt.
     I don't understand why they acted like this", said Cristian Duțescu, who added: "They probably went with the idea that the share capital increase can be delegated, according to the law 297/2004, but the right of first refusal can be limited or lifted only through the decision of the General Shareholder Meeting, according to the law no. 31 (ed. note: see insert)".
     The Lawyer Cristian Duțescu has clarified, today, that law 297 doesn't apply to BCR because the bank is not listed.
     Avocatul Cristian Duțescu a clarificat astăzi că legea 297 nu se aplică BCR, întrucât banca nu este listată.
     By the time the newspaper had gone to print, the representatives of BCR had not sent in a response to our enquiries.
     Tudor Ciurezu, the CEO of SIF Oltenia declined to make any further comments outside the report sent to the BSE.
     Some voices are saying that, through the decision of the General Shareholder Meeting, BCR shows that it is not a company that wants to abide by the principles of corporate governance.
     Others have said that even of the share capital increase at BCR were requested by the National Bank of Romania, the request would not be made within such short notice, so using the excuse of time constraints would not be justified.
     Some market voices consider that the decision of the General Shareholder Meeting of BCR, where Erste Bank holds the majority stake of over 90% of the shares, represents an abuse of the small shareholders.
     In 2011, SIF Oltenia participated in the share capital increase performed by BCR with 8 million Euros and has kept its stake intact, whereas the other SIFs sold their shares to "Erste".
     SIF Oltenia seems to be a thorn in the side of the Austrians of "Erste", and the stubbornness of SIF5 to remain in the shareholder structure of BCR seems to be exasperating them.
     Some people are saying that the current situation - of Erste trying to dilute the stake of SIF Oltenia, and the latter suing BCR - is a result of the conflict between Tudorel Ciurezu, the president of SIF Oltenia, and businessman Florin Pogonaru. Both are part of the Supervisory Board of BCR.
     In the beginning of 2014, a conflict began between the two, precisely because of the 6% stake in BCR, owned by SIF Oltenia. Later, the three directors of SIF5, considered close to Florin Pogonaru, resigned. 

     *  Two dividend proposals at SIF Oltenia: zero or 0.16 lei per share
     SIF Oltenia has two options it wants to propose in the General Shareholder Meeting of July 28th, when it comes to the allocation of last year's profit - a dividend of 0.16 lei/share or keeping the entire profit of 130 million lei, within the company.
     The management of SIF5 has been forced to once again come up with a new dividend proposal, after the shareholders decided not to distribute the profit, in the General Shareholder Meeting of April.
     At the time, neither the proposal of the Board of Directors (a dividend of 0.16 lei/share), nor the one made by businessman Gheorghe Iaciu and the funds controlled by ING (0.21 lei/share) met the quorum requirements.
     Tudor Ciurezu, the president of SIF5 made the following comment: "We have been concerned with incentivizing the shareholders both with the increase in the price of the shares, as well as with dividends, keeping an optimal ratio for the distribution of profits.
     Whereas prior to the General Shareholder Meeting of April, we though that a dividend of 0.16 lei would bring that optimal ration, nothing special has happened since then.
     We have also offered the second choice - no dividend - to account for the case when shareholders would think it more useful to keep the money within the company.
     In doing so, we leave no possibility of the profit remaining undistributed and in the coming year, they would ask for the distribution of the profit for 2013 as well, to 2013, which would mean a colossal strain for the company".
     The shareholders of SIF Oltenia also have to elect three definitive directors for the vacant positions on the Board.
     
     *  Law no 31/1990 concerning the operation of companies:
     Art. 217
     (1) The shareholders' right of first refusal can only be lifted or limited through the decision of the General Shareholder Meeting.
     (2) The Board of Directors, and the Directorate, respectively, will make available to the General Shareholder Meeting a written report, which mentions the reasons for the removal or the limiting of the right of first refusal. This report will also explain the method of determining the issue price of the shares.
     (3) The decision will be made in the presence of all the shareholders that account for 3/4 of the subscribed share capital, with the majority of the votes of the present shareholders.
     
     *  Law no. 297/2004 of the capital market:
     Art.236 .- (1) Any share capital increase must be decided by the Extraordinary General Shareholder Meeting.
     (2) The articles of incorporation or the extraordinary general shareholder meeting can authorize the increase of the share capital to a maximal level. Within the limits set for that level, the administrators can decide, following the delegation of functions, the share capital increase. This ability is granted to administrators for a maximum period of one year and can be renewed by the General Shareholder Meeting for a period which may not exceed one year, for each renewal.

 
 

 
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