FOURTEEN INVESTORS APPLY FOR VARNA SHIPYARD
Fourteen companies submitted offers for collaboration with the Varna Shipyard, Plamen Petrov - Minister of Transport, said on December 4. On the same day the shipyard owner - Navigation Maritime Bulgare (Navibulgar), finally received the necessary document and took possession of the company. The latest requirement of the syndics was the payment of a tax amounting to 2% of the accounting profit. The tax is owed by the shipyard to the municipality according to the Law on Local Taxes and Fees.There are 260 employees in the plant. However, some 600-800 workers are occupied with repair and other works every day, explained Slaveiko Staikov, Chairman of Navibulgar Board of Directors. Since July, the shipyard has reported a profit amounting to USD1.180MN. Its revenues by end-October, before taxation, amount to BGN8.480MN. Currently, the shipyard is repairing two Bulgarian ships - Balkan and Rila. The future plans of the new owner are concentrated on recovering the plant's main activity - shipbuilding. A foreign investor will be chosen within two weeks, said Minister Plamen Petrov. The collaboration with this investor will bring millions of levs to the shipyard.On April 2, 2002, Navibulgar won a tender for the assets of the insolvent Varna Shipyard. A week later it paid the amount of BGN35.5MN and became owner of the company.Representatives of the German Vessels Shipping company and the Dutch corporation for ship recycling, Amstel-Fill, are among the foreign investors which since May 2002 have been actively lobbying for strategic co-operation. Dr. Gerhard Vessels from Vessels Shipping and captain Helt Itsma from Amstel-Fill propose that the co-operation be in the form of leasing which does not require changes in the property of the plant. According to the two businessmen, the report of the European Commission dated November 13, 2002, and entitled The Situation in World Shipbuilding shows that shipyards such as that in Varna have no chance to survive because this business is growing most quickly in China and the Far East right now. The idea of the two representatives is to transform the plant into a repair centre which to recycle and dismantle worn out vessels. For this purpose they are ready to invest tens of millions of US dollars.To the question of the BANKER weekly why the companies will make a repair enterprise in Bulgaria and not in the port of Willemshafen, for example, the businessmen replied that there was one simple reason - labour force is cheap in Bulgaria. The two companies are planning to open 1,500 jobs in the first six months after they start operations. The vessel recycling process will necessitate a series of new activities - trade, sale and distribution of materials removed from the board of the vessels. This will provide new opportunities for small family businesses.We listened to the offer of the foreign investors, but still they are just one of the 14 candidates, said the transport minister Plamen Petrov.