Top 100 See - - Contents - By Ma­rina Mikhaylova

The chem­i­cals in­dus­try took the gold in the rank­ing of the most prof­itable in­dus­tries in South­east Europe (SEE) with an im­pres­sive 31.5% re­turn on rev­enue thanks to a large state debt write-off at Ro­ma­nia's in­sol­vent Oltchim. The move, which turned Oltchim's debts into in­come, help­ing it achieve a 72.8% rev­enue re­turn, is be­ing probed by the Euro­pean Commission for pos­si­ble il­le­gal state aid. More­over, the sec­tor is rep­re­sented by only two of the Top 100 SEE com­pa­nies, the se­cond one be­ing the Mace­do­nian unit of UK-based John­son Matthey, mak­ing any con­clu­sions some­what ten­ta­tive. In 2015, chem­i­cals was the sixth most prof­itable in­dus­try with a 6% re­turn.

Last year's win­ner, the rub­ber in­dus­try, rep­re­sented by two Ro­ma­nian tyre mak­ers, ranked se­cond with an in­crease in re­turn on rev­enue to 15.5% from 14.2%. Ger­man-owned Con­ti­nen­tal Au­to­mo­tive Prod­ucts boosted its re­turn to 24.6% from 21.5%, while that of French-owned Miche­lin fell to 3.4% from 5%.

The pharma sec­tor re­tained its bronze medal de­spite a de­cline in re­turn on rev­enue to 11.1% from 11.7% a year ear­lier. The slight de­crease was caused by Croa­tia's Pliva plunge in rev­enue re­turn to 4.3% from 15.4%, which was not off­set by the good re­sults of Slove­nia's Lek and Krka. Fur­ni­ture in­dus­try with a sin­gle en­trant – the Ro­ma­nian unit of Aus­tria's Holzin­dus­trie Sch­weighofer - came in fourth in this year's edi­tion, as the com­pany's prof­itabil­ity de­clined for the third straight year. Con­struc­tion ranked fifth with a 1.34 pps fall in re­turn, re­flect­ing the de­te­ri­o­rat­ing per­for­mance of its only rep­re­sen­ta­tive - Ro­ma­nian public roads author­ity, CNADNR. The 2.1 pps drop in the prof­itabil­ity of the tele­coms sec­tor, rep­re­sented by seven op­er­a­tors, was caused by the worse re­sults of Telekom Ro­ma­nia Mo­bile - a unit of Greece's OTE, the Ro­ma­nian unit of French-owned Orange, Telekom Sr­bija and Hr­vatski Telekom – a unit of Deutsche Telekom.

At the bot­tom of the ta­ble, the all-Ro­ma­nian agri­cul­ture and trans­porta­tion sec­tors recorded neg­a­tive re­turn on rev­enue. Agri­cul­ture, rep­re­sented by the units of U.S. con­glom­er­ates ADM and Cargill, and of Swiss­based Ameropa, booked a com­bined net loss of 17.8 mil­lion euro in 2015, nearly four times big­ger than in 2014. The trans­porta­tion sec­tor, rep­re­sented by state rail­way car­rier CFR, its pas­sen­ger trans­port divi­sion CFR Cala­tori, and Dae­woo-Man­galia Heavy In­dus­tries, cut its loss by 41% to 82.6 mil­lion euro.

Oil and gas com­pa­nies con­tinue to dom­i­nate the Top 100 SEE 2016 rank­ing but their num­ber fell to 24 from 27 a year ear­lier. The global oil price slump re­sulted in an 11.6% drop in their com­bined rev­enue and an 8.8% de­cline in their net profit.

The se­cond big­gest in­dus­try by rev­enue in SEE is whole­sale and re­tail, trailed by elec­tric­ity. The rank­ing com­prised 20 re­tail chains, 12 of them in Ro­ma­nia. Their com­bined rev­enue in­creased by 14%, whereas net profit more than dou­bled. Rev­enue gen­er­ated by the 16 elec­tric­ity com­pa­nies in the 2016 list rose 5.5% last year but their com­bined net profit more than halved.

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