The most valuable Romanian company with state capital, Hidroelectrica, will be sold to foreigners, on the London Stock Exchange, according to a false narrative promoted by the controversial senator Diana Șoșoacă. In reality, the company will only be listed on the Bucharest Stock Exchange, and only the 19.94% owned by Fondul Proprietatea will be sold.
NEWS: “Fondul Proprieteatea no longer belongs to the Romanians. Fondul Proprietatea is owned by a bank from the United States of America, about 10-12%, the Bank of New York Mellon, something like that, by the private pension fund NN, by the private pension fund Allianz-Țiriac, by I don't know which investors from abroad, the Ministry of Public Finance also has about 6%, but, mind you, the president of Fondul Proprietatea was the former ambassador of the United States to Romania, Mark Gitenstein. Eight years, three terms! He gave up his 2020 or 2021 term, he resigned because he’d been appointed US ambassador to the EU in the meantime. And more than that, [...], he is the one who put Kovesi at the helm of DNA (National Anticorruption Directorate). Fondul Proprietatea became the property of foreigners, because, newspapers say, Băsescu had to pay his debt to Gitenstein, and Gitenstein became the president of Fondul Proprietatea. [...]
At this moment, Hidroelectrica is to be listed on the Romanian stock exchange, and the shareholders' board called and said that they will ignore everything that the Romanian management says, that they are just slaves, and they will also list it on the London stock exchange. So Hidroelectrica will no longer be Romanian. The moment when the 20% owned by Fondul Proprietatea will be listed in London and in Bucharest, in Bucharest, ok, big deal! ... But when it’s in London it is very clear to me that someone very well prepared, I suppose also related to the United States, will become the owner of the 20%. (Lazarus: Rothschild!) Rothschild, obviously! The idea is as follows: through a legal procedure, by means of which even Petrom was taken over by foreigners, because the majority shares were not sold. There is a process called capital increase. The moment you operate a capital increase, at that moment, through a very interesting legal procedure, you end up owning the most shares and turn from a minority shareholder into a majority shareholder. That's how most of those who bought Romania's industry became majority shareholders." ( Diana Iovanovici Șoșoacă, on Luis Lazarus-Zeus TV from min. 44:25)
NARRATIVE: The West is forcing Romania to give up its resources
CONTEXT/LOCAL ETHOS: In a live dialogue on Facebook between Luis Lazarus, a journalist more famous for the fines received throughout his career from the Audio-Visual Council than for his activity as a journalist , and Senator Diana Iovanovici Şoșoacă, among many other untruths, the information was circulated that Hidroelectrica, the most valuable Romanian company with state capital, worth approximately 25 billion lei, will be sold on international markets. The information was subtly slipped in at the beginning of the dialogue by Lazarus and later dwelled on by Diana Șoșoacă.
Declared by sputnik.md the political personality of the year 2021 , Senator Diana Iovanovici Șoșoacă has become famous thanks to the many scandals she’s been involved in , but also by promoting theses, false narratives and disinformation very similar to those launched from Russia. Visible at first by participating in the protests against the so-called “medical dictatorship”, whose central figures were individuas close to the Russian Embassy in Bucharest, , Diana Șoșoacă has spread lots of pieces of disinformation and fake news about the coronavirus and the anti-Covid-19 vaccine (such as the narrative, debunked by Veridica, according to which the vaccine induces sterility across three generations, and has made efforts to combat the vaccination campaign. She has also promoted sovereignist and anti-EU theses (including by denying the existence of the war in Ukraine), which have also appeared along time in lots of disinformation and false narratives originating in Russia.
In the narrative regarding Hidroelectrica, the name Rothschild is also circulated. This family has for generations been the target of conspiracy theories that are essentially anti-Semitic; most recently, Rothschild was talked about in the context of the war in Ukraine: a conspiracy theory, also promoted in Romania by Cozmin Gușă, says that Rothschild allegedly bought the entire debt of Ukraine; the thesis regarding the intention of the Rothschild group to seize Romania’s assets is a similar one.
PURPOSE: Undermining the trust of the population in the authorities and the entire political class, as well as promoting the sovereignist, anti-Western discourse.
WHY THE NARRATIVE IS FALSE: In her characteristic style, Senator Șoșoacă truncated real information to distort the overall picture. Indeed, The Bank of New York Mellon currently owns shares in Fondul Proprietatea, but only 14.20% of the shares. The percentage held is lower than it was at the beginning of the year when BNY Mellon had 16.63% of the stock. In 2018, for example, the same financial institution held 28.90% of the fund’s shares . It is also true that the two private pension funds cited (NN and Allianz-Țiriac) are shareholders of the fund, but only because they bought shares on the open market. The purpose of any pension fund is to make a profit, in its own interest and that of the depositors; we do not see how the Romanian state could have prevented the acquisition of the respective shares by any investor on the stock exchange in a free market.
The statement “Fondul Proprietatea no longer belongs to the Romanians” is invalid from the start, since the said fund has never belonged to all Romanians, but only to the Romanians who own shares in this fund. But, even so, at present, the structure of FP’s shareholding is as follows: 72.47% - Romanian institutional shareholders + Romanian natural persons + Ministry of Public Finance + FP's own shares and 27.53% - BNY Mellon + Foreign institutional shareholders + Individuals non-resident individuals. Regarding the presidency of Fondul Proprietatea and the former American ambassador Mark Gitenstein, Diana Șoșoacă uses another truncated truth. Indeed, the American diplomat was a member of the Board of Representatives of Fondul Proprietatea , but he never held the position of president , as the anti-Semitic publication Incorrect Politic suggested a year ago. The rest of the information are just narratives taken from the media of the times when Traian Băsescu was president of Romania and Laura Codruța Kovesi was the chief prosecutor of the National Anticorruption Directorate, seasoned with personal speculations.
The same type of discourse (bits of truth and extremely subjective forecasts) is also used when the senator brings up Hidroelectrica S.A. “Hydroelectrica will no longer be Romanian” is the verdict given by the people's senator, immediately after she announces that “the shareholders' board requested and said that they will ignore everything that the Romanian leadership says, that they are only slaves, and they will list it on the London Stock Exchange”. We don't know exactly what he means when he says the shareholders' board, but we know that Hidroelectrica’s General Meeting of Shareholders (GMS) has only two members: the Romanian state through the Ministry of Energy and Fondul Proprietatea.
The GMS decision no.3 of 31.03.2022 approved only the start of the admission to trading of the shares held by FP on the Bucharest Stock Exchange. Neither this document nor the ones issued subsequently include any request for listing on the London Stock Exchange. For the sake of analysis, we will go further along the narrative line used by Mrs. Sosoacă and assume that, once listed on the London Stock Exchange, the 19.94% shares will all be bought by Rothschild. By the way, we see no reason why this should not happen after the listing of the company in Bucharest or that through the listing in Bucharest not even one share should be sold and all of them end up for sale in London. But this time we will give credit to a dignitary of the Romanian state.
Next, madam senator from Iași tells us that there will be a capital increase, so that the respective owner of the shares becomes the majority shareholder. What the senator does not say is that the capital increase can only be made after changing the company’s articles of incorporation . An equally interesting legal procedure, amending the articles of incorporation can only be made on the basis of a decision of the GMS, an assembly in which the Romanian state will still have vote share of 80.06%. It is true that voices from the management of Fondul Proprietatea suggested a dual listing of the shares, but the Romanian state requested the shares be listed only on the Bucharest Stock Exchange. In conclusion, the sale of almost 20 percent of Hidroelectrica's shares is a commitment made by Romania under the NRRP chapter R3: Improving the corporate governance of state-owned companies in the sector, and is by no means an evil plan to alienate the country's resources.
GRAIN OF TRUTH: The representatives of Fondul Proprietatea say that the banks with which they had discussions regarding the listing of Hidroelectrica concluded that listing the 20% package of the fund is difficult to achieve only on the BSE and that the listing should also take place on the London Stock Exchange.