BULGARIAN RIVER SHIPPING EXPECTS PROFIT IN 2004
Bulgarian River Shipping EAD expects BGN580,000 in profit for 2004, the Executive Director Dragomir Kochanov announced. These forecasts are quite optimistic, taking into consideration the fact that the company has not posted profit for several years now. According to its unaudited report for last year, its losses amounted to BGN164,000, while in 2002 it was BGN1.1MN. It was due to those negative results that the company's shares failed to attract interest after they were offered for sale on the stock exchange against compensation instruments of payment as of February 16. Proceeds from sales totalled BGN16.9MN in end-2003, and are expected to go up by BGN600,000 this year. The liabilities of Bulgarian River shipping to the budget amount to BGN153,000 and BGN213,000 is the overdue payment to its personnel. The company's biggest liabilities are to suppliers - BGN1.9MN. Bulgarian River Shipping transported 1,200,000 tons of cargo last year. The most frequent freights are: coal, ores and metals. Grain and fertilizers are a small share of the transported goods. For the first time in the last twelve years the freight exceeded the quantity transported prior the embargo against Yugoslavia was imposed in 1992. Navigation through Serbia became easier only in the beginning of 2002 when Bulgaria's western neighbour country joined the so-called eastern destinations, serviced by Bulgarian River Shipping. It includes also the voyages to the Ukraine, Moldova and Romania, accounting for 78.8% of its entire turnover of cargo, and the freight consists mostly of raw materials for the Bulgarian power engineering and metallurgy. The other cargo destinations are the ports of Hungary, Austria, Slovakia and Germany. Bulgaria is a mediator in the sale of some goods: grain from Hungary is transported to Romania and Germany, coke and ores go from the Ukraine to Serbia. The relative share of transit cargoes is 11.4 per cent. The goods transported by Bulgarian River Shipping account for 38% of all imports and 28% of Bulgaria's exports. The company's assets amounted to BGN7.6MN in end-2003, vessels accounting for BGN5.6MN. Due to the increase of cargo turnover, Bulgarian River Shipping has to rent or buy ships. Presently, the company's fleet includes 18 motor ships and 124 barges. It plans to buy two second-hand vessels in 2004, using a credit of EUR1.2MN. The construction of the modern ship, named G. Mamarchev, will be soon completed, too. The greatest rivals of Bulgarian River Shipping are the Ukrainian carriers Ukrechflot and UDP, which have stable relations with big producers of coal and ores in the Ukraine. This is something that the Bulgarian company cannot boast of. The opportunities for Bulgarian River Shipping are due to the fact that the Ukrainian companies refuse to transport Russian goods. The minority 30% stake from the capital of Bulgarian River Shipping was put up for sale on the stock exchange on February 16. The shares will be available till March 29 at a minimum price of BGN87 apiece, payable in compensation instruments. The sale is mediated byBulbrokers. If there is not sufficient interest, the price may go down. The Minister of Transport and Telecommunications Nikolay Vassilev, principal of the company, assured the future investors that after the sale of the 30% package he would invite a general meeting, when their representative would be appointed to the Board fo Directors. The majority package will be sold out through a tender after the Parliament approves a strategy for the company's privatisation. This is necessary as Bulgarian River Shipping has been included in the list of companies with significance for the country's national security. For the time being, however, there are no indications that the document wiill be approved.