FOUR OFFERS FOR BULGARIAN RIVER SHIPPING
Four companies filed preliminary offers for the privatisation of 70% of Bulgarian River Shipping - Rousse by the deadline April 25. These are: Kaolin - Senovo, the Sofia-based Chimimport and Toplivo, and the Cyprus-registered Bulcom Ltd.The tender for the majority package in Bulgarian River Shipping will be held in two stages, which means that the candidates will have to pass one more sifter before they are admitted to submit final bids. Their non-binding offers will be appraised by the Privatisation Agency (PA) in order to nominate the contestants in the final stage. The offers will be evaluated according to three criteria - price, investments and number of working positions. The offered purchase bid will be the most important criterion, accounting for 70 points, and each of the two other criteria will bring 15 points. The candidates admitted to the second stage of the tender will have to present a binding offer with a price and a 5-year business programme, including plans for number of working positions and investments. They are also expected to prove the origin of the money by which they will buy the majority package and which they intend to invest. Under the strategy for the divestment of Bulgarian River Shipping, approved by the National Assembly on March 1, the buyer should set aside 10% of the investments projected in the business plan as an effective bank guarantee and also block part of the acquired shares as a special pledge in order to guarantee the fulfilment of undertaken commitments. Among them is the requirement not to decrease its participation in the company below 51% within three years, to maintain the main line of its operation, and not change the vessels' Bulgarian flag for a period of five years. Bulgarian River Shipping reported a BGN324,000 profit for 2004 and its gross proceeds amounted to BGN25.1MN, the bulk of which (BGN17.2MN) came from transportation. The most frequent cargoes were coal, cox, metals and ores (accounting for 89.7% of all shipments). The company has 18 self-propelled ships and 122 towed vessels.Castlings have been agreed in the ownership of Bulyard - partner of Bulgarian River Shipping (Navibulgar) in Bulyard Shipping Industry, which holds the assets of the Varna Shipyard. On April 22 the Odessos Dockyard agreed with Industrial Holding Bulgaria to sell it 15% of its participation in Bulyard. Thus, the holding's stake will reach 51.5 per cent. The remaining stocks of the capital are in the hands of Bulcom Ltd. (one of the bidders for Bulgarian River Shipping), and Electric Machinery Holding, owned by Borislav Dionisiev. Navibulgar reported a BGN11.8MN profit for the first quarter of 2005, up BGN3.5MN from the same period of last year. Proceeds from the company's operation increased too - from BGN86.2MN to BGN89.6MN. Undistributed profit for the first three months totalled BGN63.5MN, and uncovered losses amounted to BGN28.6MN. Navibulgar's liabilities are almost BGN50MN, and its receivables - BGN34.6MN.