FIRST FINANCE AND BROKERAGE HOUSE PREFERS BIG CLIENTS
First Finance and Brokerage House (FBH) OOD attracted the attention lately by the fact that two of its former employees were appointed deputy ministers in the Government of Premier Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. Kaloyan Ninov, who was until recently a manager of the investment underwriter, is already a deputy of Nikolai Vassilev in the Ministry of Economy, where he is responsible of the State's property and of the capital market. And Nikolai Nikolov, 27, who was an analyst at First FBH in 1997-1999, became a deputy of Plamen Petrov in the Ministry of Transport and Telecommunications. He will be in charge of the application and development of high technologies.After the castlings at the top of First FBH, the company was headed by two managers in June: Nedelcho Nedelchev, born in 1974, and Todor Breshkov, born in 1975. Mr. Nedelchev finished the First English Language School in Sofia, and graduated from the University of National and World Economy with a master's degree in international economic relations. In 1995-1996 he worked at the finance and brokerage house Aval In, which is presently an investment underwriter. In 1997 he became an analyst at First FBH, and two years later headed the company's Analyses and Corporative Finances Department.Mr. Breshkov finished his secondary education at the Language School in Plovdiv and got a master's degree in economic management from the Sofia University. He worked for a while with an insurance borker, and in March 1998 joined First FBH as an analyst.In the beginning of its activities on the financial markets First FBH was managed by its owners Ivailo Moutafchiev and Tseko Minev, who held respectively 54.78% and 30.7% of the intermediary's shares. In addition, both of them are shareholders in First Investment Bank (FIB), holding a total of 24.62% in it. The third partner in First FBH is Libero OOD, with Boyan Marinov as Executive Director, who is also a manager of Pirin Tourist (the company that purchased Hemus Air). Mr. Moutafchiev withdrew from the everyday management of First FBH in 2000. The investment underwriter holds 13.89% of FIB's shares. In that way, the financial house and its owners Minev and Moutafchiev control more than 38% of the credit institution. The other two shareholders in the bank are the Austrian fund EPIC, with a 39% stake, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, with a 20% share. First FBH is probably the investment underwriter with the most famous clients in Bulgaria. It is a major broker of UBS Warburg and Lazard Capital Markets - the banks, in which the Deputy Permier and Minister of Economy Nikolai Vassilev worked before assuming his duties in the incumbent Cabinet. They are effecting about 90% of their transactions in Bulgaria through First FBH. Bank Austria and several American and European funds are also among the clients of First FBH. In end-2000 it became an exclusive representative for Bulgaria of Prebon Marshall Yamane - one of the top London brokers on the foreign currency energy markets, whose 1999 turnover reached USD55 trillion. However, the fund has not made any investments in Bulgaria yet. The problem is that there is no trade in derivatives on the local monetary market. The brokers of First FBH prinicpally prefer to work with big clients - companies and institutional investors. Therefore, their tariffs for individual customers include a miniumum fee of BGL10 per each transaction.The investment underwriter is among the major players in launching issues of securities. First FBH was the only underwriter of the first issues of ProSoft bonds with a par value of BGL300,000. Some years ago First FBH was also a primary dealer of government securities, but gave up such operations due to the low proceeds from them. Since the beginning of 2001 the finance house registered turnover in compensation instruments, exceeding BGL40MN of par value. Unlike some other intermediaries, First FBH is not an active player on the international markets, although it is licensed for trade abroad.The company counts mostly on its powerful analytics department, which maintains data base for corporative events at all public companies in Bulgaria. Topson Financial - a leading information provider for the financial markets - is among its famaous clients of this service. First FBH maintains information contacts with top investment banks, such as JP Morgan and Merrill Lynch. It has also established realtions with several American funds for venture capital with a view to investing money in Bulgarian companies. However, not a single project in that sphere has been realized so far.