The passion of President Klaus Iohannis for BMW: The story begins in 2007 with a white limousine / He also drove a model unique in the country, the M5 variant / Local press, ten years ago: The mayor of Sibiu is the local face of the car dealer, with whom he has a contract
President Klaus Iohannis has always had a passion for BMW, just like his friend, businessman Michael Schmidt, becoming the face of the Automobile Bavaria dealer in Sibiu. When he was mayor he received the latest BMW models free of charge from Automobile Bavaria. At the end of July, the company won the contract with the Romanian police to supply 600 cars at 38,000 euros each.
The first limousine, a white BMW 7 series, was delivered in 2007, the year Sibiu became European Capital of Culture.
„I didn’t set out to touch its limits. The highest speed I reached was in Germany, on the motorway – 250 km per hour,” Klaus Ionannis said in 2009 about his new car, as quoted by the Turnul Sfatului.
He is so proud of Michael Schmidt’s BMW that the mayor gives himself a waiver to park the limousine in Sibiu’s Piaza Mare central square. He’s the only one allowed to do so. In September 2009 the following explanation to the local press makes a splash:
- ” The future mayor will also get to decide where he parks. For there will be another future mayor later on. Much later (…) By disposition, official delegations can park in the Piață Mare. There are different rules for different categories. We are equal before the law, but we are not equal before the parking places”, Johannis replied to the question „are we all equal before the law”.
It is the beginning of the collaboration between Automobile Bavaria and the former mayor of Sibiu. The publication 60m.ro wrote in an article published in October 2021 that „Iohannis received, one by one, several luxury cars, some of them unique in the country and custom-made. This was despite the fact that Sibiu City Hall had been paying, since 2004, 6,000 euros each for a lease on an Audi A6, specially designed for the mayor”.
For example, in 2010, the local press notes that Mayor Iohannis is at the second BMW limousine made available to the mayor of Sibiu by Bavaria Romania, free of charge. In this car, a BMW 750i with a list price of around 140,000 euros, the mayor had a minor accident in March 2010 and broke the radiator after hitting a car parked near the Sibiu Financial Directorate. The accident resulted in no casualties and the two drivers settled out of court. (Source here)
A few months after the accident, in November 2010, Mayor Iohannis changed his car for the third time, also for a BMW, the latest model, at that time unique in Romania.
„BMW’s newest model, the 5 Series with M package, has been driven for a few days by the Mayor of Sibiu, Klaus Iohannis, and is the only car of its kind in the country. The black limousine, estimated at more than 100,000 euros, has 407 horsepower, a 4.4-litre engine and xDrive all-wheel drive,” wrote Tribuna newspaper in November 2010.
The Tribuna newspaper also notes that Mayor Klaus Iohannis received the car on the basis of the collaboration he has had with Automobile Bavaria since 2007, the year of the European Capital of Culture.
„After attending the launch event of the new model in March this year, Mayor Klaus Iohannis received a BMW 5 Series through the BMW dealer – Contempo Cars Sibiu – which is part of the Automobile Bavaria Group network, the largest BMW dealer in Eastern and Central Europe,” said representatives of the dealer, quoted by Tribuna.
An article published in 2012 by sibiul.ro informs that „the mayor of Sibiu is the local image of the car dealer, with whom he has a contract under which he receives some of the newest and most performing cars. The one he drives now is a 407 horsepower BMW 750 i”.
The newspaper Adevărul also noted in 2010 that the car received by Iohannis, a unique model in the country, was the initiative of the importer.
„The new car was given as a gift to the mayor of Sibiu by Automobile Bavaria, BMW’s official importer in Romania. <<The initiative belonged to the importer of BMW cars in Romania. It is an M5 model, the only one in the country>>, says Mirela Gligore, spokesperson of Sibiu City Hall. The partnership between Sibiu City Hall and BMW began in 2007 during the European Cultural Capital and has continued to this day. The mayor makes use of the German manufacturer’s best cars and the company enjoys the promotion,” notes the newspaper Adevărul.
In neither of his declarations of wealth and interests filed by former mayor Klaus Iohannis and available on the Natioan Integrity Institute’s (ANI) website is there any mention of the BMW received free of charge from the local dealer while he was mayor, nor any promotion contract. On the ANI website, the 2008, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 asset declarations are available.
The publication Jurnalul (from the trust founded by Dan Voiculescu) noted in November 2014, when Klaus Iohannis was in the middle of the presidential election campaign against Victor Ponta, that „Klaus Iohannis and Michael Schmidt are not only friends, but also business partners: Automobile Bavaria has made numerous limousines available to the city of Sibiu in recent years under a loan agreement. For years, Iohannis has been driving a BMW provided by Schmidt. It was only in June 2014 that Iohannis broke his contract with Automobile Bavaria, but not his friendship with Schmidt.”
Also in August 2014, in the midst of the presidential campaign, pesurse.ro tried to find out from the Sibiu City Hall what the act is that gives Klaus Iohannis the right to use the car, but claims to have received no reply.
After becoming president of Romania in December 2014, Klaus Iohannis changed cars. In March 2015 the Security and Protection Service buys a Mercedes S Klasse estimated at €120,000 for the new president, although the president’s favourite BMW also participated in the auction. In 2016 BMW gets its revenge and wins a contract worth more than 15 million lei with the SPP.
On 2 June 2016, the SPP concludes a framework agreement with Automobile Bavaria „for the supply of cars for the transport of dignitaries, escorts, accompaniment of official columns and for specific missions of the Protection and Security Service”.
So the BMW name doesn’t disappear completely from the landscape. In October 2021, a former BMW executive, George Dorobanțu, becomes the director of Otopeni Airport. His term ends on 1 August 2022.
It was not the first time that a former BMW boss took over a company under the Ministry after Klaus Iohannis took office. In 2017, Werner Wolf, CEO of Bavaria Banat, was appointed at the helm of Tarom, a company he led for almost a year and a half.
Automobile Bavaria SRL, the company of Michael Schimdt, about whom President Klaus Iohannis himself has admitted to a friendly relationship, has won 45 contracts since 2015 and so far, through public tenders, worth a total of 404 million lei, about 83 million euros, according to data available on the SICAP website, as written extensively by G4Media.ro.
Most contracts were won after 2020, when a government favourable to President Iohannis is installed in the Victory Palace. The largest contract is won in July 2022 with the Romanian Police, worth 98 million lei.
Who is Michael Schimdt
Michael Schmidt (62) told Wall Street in an interview two years ago that he decided in 1994 to import new BMW models to Romania, so on April 1 he rented space in the first office building in Unirii Square in Sitraco Center. In the first year, with three people, he says he managed to sell only 11 cars. The following year, in 1995, Schmidt moved the office to a 60-square-meter showroom in the gallery of the Sofitel Hotel (ed. the current Pullman Hotel), which barely fit two BMW models. Over the next few years, sales grew exponentially.
Michael H. Schmidt emigrated in 1981 with his family to Germany where he graduated from the Technical University of Munich. He is married to Veronica Schmidt, sister of controversial Moldovan politician Renato Usatâi. He is a German citizen and a member of the Saxon community.
Schmidt owns the Automobile Bavaria Group, the largest network of BMW and Mini dealers in Central and South-Eastern Europe, with 13 dealerships in Romania, the only authorized Rolls-Royce service in the region; the MHS Truck & Bus Group, general importer and distributor of MAN vehicles in Romania, and the Autohaus Michael Schmidt Group with 5 BMW dealerships in the Munich area and the largest Rolls-Royce dealer in Germany.
Michael Schmidt is co-founder of the Haferland Week festival, one of the largest events dedicated to promoting the Saxon area in Transylvania.
The Romanian police said that the procurement procedure was completed on 29 July 2022, with the winning bid being declared by the distributor S.C. Automobile Bavaria S.R.L., which met all the eligibility requirements.
Three days later, on 31 July 2022, the owner of the company, Michael Schimdt, invited to the Haferland Week, an annual event dedicated to Saxon traditions, almost all the PNL ministers in the Romanian government, led by President Klaus Iohannis, Prime Minister Nicolae Ciucă and Interior Minister Lucian Bode.
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