BORIKA'S SALE UNCERTAIN UNTIL MARCH 15
Is the Bulgarian National Bank (BNB) going to sell 67% of the capital of the Borika national card operator which is currently solely owned by the central bank? It is hard to give an explicit answer to this question. The deadline by which banks are allowed to submit offers for acquisition of Borika shares expires on March 15.According to the conditions set by BNB, shares of Borika can only be sold if more than a half of the banks and branches of foreign credit institutions in Bulgaria (with a total number of 35) submit applications or if offers for at least 51% of the operator's capital are submitted. Whether or not these conditions would be fulfilled did not become clear until the end of this week. As the BANKER weekly found out, some bank managers are determined to acquire shares, others have given up or are still thinking. A fourth group will make a final decision at the meetings of their managing boards scheduled for March 14.When offering 67% of Borika's capital for sale, BNB Governing Board fixed a quota of shares that each credit institution will be allowed to acquire. Each quota has been calculated on the basis of the amount of transfers through debit and credit cards issued by a bank that have been carried out in the last three months of 2004. According to the calculations, the biggest stakes consisting of 6.6% of Borika's capital will be offered to DSK Bank, United Bulgarian Bank (UBB), and First Investment Bank (FIB). BULBANK and SG EXPRESSBANK will be allowed to buy 5.31% stakes. DZI Bank will be offered 5.21%, HVB Bank Biochim - 4.74%, and Municipal Bank - 4.5 per cent.Moreover, BNB has offered a fixed price - BGN3,904, per share of the national card operator. For example, the managers of UBB are determined to pay BGN644,160 in order to buy the 165 Borika shares they are entitled to. EUROBANK's executive directors even sent a proposal to BNB to acquire 1% of the national operator. It is almost certain that BULBANK and Allianz Bulgaria Bank will be willing to acquire stakes in the capital of Borika, too. The managers of DSK Bank are waiting for an order by the owner, OTP, on March 14. On the other hand, there are banks such as HVB Bank Biochim which do not intend to buy shares of Borika.If it turns out on March 15 that fewer than a half of the banks have applied for shares in the national card operator or that applications for less than 51% of its capital have been submitted, BNB may also start negotiations with foreign investors effecting payments through debit and credit cards.