EBRD FINANCES ENERGY SAVING COMPANIES
There are certainly many entrepreneurs in Bulgaria whose hearts sink when they see their electricity bills. This is mostly valid for businessmen who are occupied with production or own large warehouses and trade centres... Moreover, there are growing rumours that electricity in the country will become even more expensive as soon as units 3 and 4 of the Kozlodoui nuclear power plant are closed down in 2006. Therefore, the cost of electricity may become a serious problem for the Bulgarian companies, if they fail to take the necessary measures to avoid that.From the end of this March, United Bulgarian Bank (UBB), Bulgarian Post Bank, ProCredit Bank, and UNIONBANK will begin to launch credits for some energy saving technologies. This is now possible due to the credit line agreements signed with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) on March 16. The EBRD was represented by its Southeast Europe and Caucasus Director, Mr. Olivier Descamp, and the Manager for Bulgaria, Mr. John Chomel-Doe. The UBB credit agreement was signed by the financial institution's executive directors Stiliyan Vutev and Christos Katsanis, and that of Post Bank - by its CEO Panagiotis Varelas, and the Executive Director Athanassios Petropoulos. On behalf of ProCredit Bank, the agreement was signed by Susanne Decker, Chairwoman of the Management Board, and Petar Slavov, Executive Director. UNIONBANK was represented by Anna Asparuhova, Chairwoman of the Management Board, and Todor Nikolov, Executive Director.The biggest credit line, worth EUR15MN, will be launched to UBB which has previous experience in financing such projects. Seven years ago, the bank signed an agreement with the USAID for financing companies willing to reduce their electricity expenses. According to the bank's Executive Director Christos Katsanis, credits amounting to USD9.3MN have been launched under this line for four years. The money provided now by the EBRD and payable in a five-year term will be utilized much faster, Katsanis added. A businessman credited for the installation of energy saving technologies in his production may also receive up to 20% of the UBB loan from the European Union free of charge. He will only need a document proving that the loan has been used for the right purpose. All other formalities will be responsibility of the bank.A five-year credit line, worth EUR5MN, will be provided to Bulgarian Post Bank for energy saving credits, a EUR10MN one will be launched to ProCredit Bank, and a EUR3MN one - to UNIONBANK. The EBRD has allocated EUR50MN for financing electricity saving projects in Bulgaria. Apart from the present EUR33MN, it will also provide EUR17MN to other crediting institutions, which according to John Chomel-Doe are also interested in the project.