BOYANA FILM PRIVATISATION GETS NEAR TO THE FINAL
The conditions for the privatisation of Boyana Film Studios are already clear now. After mutually attacking each other for several months, the representatives of the Privatisation Agency (PA), the Ministry of Culture and all film-makers unions shook hands earlier this week. Now the announcement for the sale of the film studios must be published in the State Gazette before offers start to arrive for acquisition of 95% of the capital of Boyana Film.The long discussion about who must own the Bulgarian cinema centre led to extension of the bidding criteria. Apart from producing companies, the competition will also include companies providing film-making services. The PA agreed with that condition, as the union of film-workers opposed to the agency's decision to let only producers take part in the bidding. Accusations appeared that the sale had been prepared for a particular buyer, New Image. Just a few weeks later, the US producing company announced officially that it would participate in the competition along with Kodak.New Image was established in the USA in 1992 and started shooting in Bulgaria in 1998. Up to now it has created 40 films here. In turn, about five years ago Kodak equipped a modern laboratory in Boyana Film Studios. Last week Kodak CEO Peter Boyce told the Bulgarian media that depending on who will be the buyer of the studio his company would invest in a new laboratory. The investment will not be bound to New Image, he added. The British Ealing Studios showed officially interest in the deal, too. The studios provide film-making services and are owned by three producing companies. The PA has received letters of intention from five companies so far.According to the final criteria, the bidding for 95% of the capital of the movie production centre is open for legal entities that meet several preliminary requirements. They need to have produced and financed full-length feature films, cartoons, or TV series in the past five years. Producers must have made at least 50 films with a total budget of at least USD200MN. A month ago the PA required that applicants have at least ten-year experience in producing films and no fewer than 100 films made of a budget no lower than USD500MN. Besides, the agency is searching for buyers who produced at least five films with a USD20MN total budget in the last year, whereas the initially required budget was USD25MN. No change was made to the requirement that candidates should distribute their own production and should sell at least 50% of it in the European Union and North America. Revenues from the distribution of these films should amount to USD100MN at least.Candidates for Boyana Film Studios must own a film studio equipped with filming stalls with a total ground not smaller than 2,000 square metres. Moreover, their operating income for the past three years should not be lower than USD60MN. The winner in the competition will be given a chance to pay 30% of the capital of the Bulgarian cinema centre with compensatory instruments.No changes were made to the post privatisation obligations of the buyer, either. The winner will be asked to keep the activity of the company for at least 10 years, participate in the producing of at least two Bulgarian full-length films and 20-minute cartoon, as well as invest at least EUR6MN in the first four years after the acquisition. The new owner of Boyana Film Studios will be obliged to support the Bulgarian National Film Library which keeps the Bulgarian film archive and to help local students in film-making schools in their education.