Банкеръ Weekly



Last year's privatization deals clearly outlined those sectors of our economy which seem most attractive to foreign investors. Since September both Bulgarian and foreign groups have been responding to every open tender announcement concerning sale of a seaside hotel or hydroelectric power station. It has been an usual practice biddings to push up price much above the initially appointed by PA's appraisers minimum one. There have been cases when a tender has been won by a sports club obviously established to develop business by evading taxes. On the other hand, there can hardly be found any candidate-buyer capable of paying the lowest price appointed at a tender for the sale of an engineering plant.The Czech firm Energo Pro through its Bulgarian subsidiary is winner in the next battle of the war for sharing our hydroelectric business sector. On Monday (July 8) the firm won the tender for Koprinka cascade which unites Stara Zagora and Koprinka hydroelectric power stations. The foreign investor will pay BGN16.2MN for its new acquisition. Among its rivals were the Sliven-registered company Mirolio Electricity and the Sofia Still-93. The latter one is owned in full by the Turk businessman Fuat Gunesh who controls the Haskovo tourist firm Aida Tours (the former local Balkantourist subsidiary), a tourist site at Sv. Konstantin Elena Resort and a petrol station in the Svilengrad duty-free zone. The Italian firm Mirolio on its turn owns textile plants in Sliven and Elin Pelin. Both firms' interest in the hydroelectric power stations can be attributed to the fact that they take them as secure investment, something like a bank deposit. It is very easy to calculate these stations' annual income without further investments at that.Energo Pro is recognized as the biggest investor in the privatization of hydroelectric power stations after purchasing the Sandanska Bistritza cascade four months ago for USD33.057MN. This deal-making was stretched over a period of a year and a half. As official reason for the delay was pointed the necessity to first work out a privatization strategy for the energy sector and only then to start privatizing the power stations. Privatizers, however, rumoured that the real reason this deal to be halted had been the interest of certain Bulgarian groups in the cascade. More than a year ago representatives of Grisha Ganchev's Litex Commerce (one of the failed candidate-buyers of Sandanska Bistritza) were said to have been convincing Energo Pro to give up the hydroelectric stations.The Czech firm is represented in Bulgaria by the investment intermediary BBG Simex, managed by Ivan Genchev (husband of Olia Gencheva, Head of Department at the Ministry of Finance ).

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