BTC PAID OFF EUR53MN CREDIT GUARANTEED BY THE STATE
The Bulgarian Telecommunication Company (BTC) paid off all of its state-guaranteed credits amounting to EUR53.096MN. The money was launched by the European Investment Bank (EUR34.344MN), the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EUR13.356MN), and the World Bank (EUR5.395MN) in 1993. The company fulfilled one of the conditions of the privatisation deal signed by the Bulgarian Government and Viva Ventures for the sale of 65% of the telecom shares, BTC Executive Director William Aylward said. According to the requirements of the privatisation agreement, the credits guaranteed by the state should have been paid off within six months following the signing of the deal. The payments to the three banks cancelled the commitment of the Bulgarian Government.The credit from EIB, EBRD, and the WB was drawn for the purposes of the digitalisation of the BTC national network. The international financial institutions launched a half of the funds, while the rest was provided by the then state-owned telecom. Due to that investment, 10% of the network in the country was digitalized. At present, more than 30% of it is digitalized, the new owners of BTC announced. In accordance with the privatisation agreement, Viva Ventures commits itself to attain 80% digitalisation by 2007 as the Government promised to the European Union. The company managers estimate that over EUR800MN investments will be made in the fixed network for that period. This will allow all Bulgarian consumers profit by the latest generation of services in the telecommunication sector, the telecom managers said.It also became clear last week that the management of BTC was starting to restructure the company. By the end of the current year the cleaning of all of its buildings will have been entrusted to one or several companies through a competition, the Human Resources Manager Evgenia Georgieva said on October 13. The maintenance of the hygiene now involves 200 to 250 employees of the telecom. BTC is going to establish a separate security company that will take care of its sites across the country. At present, the company is in a licensing procedure and will start operations by year-end, BTC Security Manager Kiril Radev said. More than 1,000 people will be employed by the guarding company. They will be chosen by fixed criteria but advantage will be given to those working in BTC who meet the requirements, Mr. Radev added. For the four months since the BTC sale was concluded, 1,072 employees have quit the company voluntarily, Evgenia Georgieva added. In accordance with the privatisation agreement, some 6,500 of the nearly 25,000 people working there will be dismissed in the next four years. So far, BTC has paid BGN18MN for social expenses.