GARANT REMAINS OWNER OF JUPITER
The Vienna-based Garant, which owns 72% of the shares of the insurance company Jupiter, remains the company's owner and is not goung to sell it, a well-informed source from the branch said. In the end of last week it was announced that Austria's giant Winerstetische, which intended to buy Jupiter, gave up the deal after researching the market in the last few months. The results showed that too many investments were necessary in order to incorporate Jupiter effectively into the Austrian insurance company. Moreover, Winerstetische does not have a team, ready to come to Bulgaria and undertake Jupiter's management. Nevertheless, till the last moment there was a representative of Winerstetische in Jupiter, who was closely watching the developments. This was Ivailo Kudrev, a Bulgarian emigrant to Austria, where he is an expert in the Vienna-based holding group.The contract for the sale of Garant's 72% stake was expected to be officially signed during the company's general meeting on June 18. (The other shareholders in Jupiter are: Overgas, which holds 18% of it, Vassil Mirchev, holding 3.3% and several more small owners). The rumour that Overgas would bid for the controlling package of Jupiter's shares has not been confirmed, at least for the time being.Jupiter's fair financial performance over the last three months of 2001 made Garant change its strategy for the insurer's sale after the negotiations with Winerstetische failed, sourecs from insurance cirles claim. The initial plans were to sell the company by all means, but now the majority shareholder Garant has decided to keep the company.Jupiter's gross premium proceeds totaled BGN5.1MN by March 31, 2002, allotting it a 4.25% market share (twice the company's results for the same period of 2001).A lawsuit will be heard in Vienna on June 21. Legal proceedings against Garant's Management Board were initiated by Vassil Mirchev when the negotiations with Winerstetische entered a decisive phase. Mr. Mirchev placed claims for Garant's stocks, stating that in the end of 2001 he had held talks and agreed with the company to buy its stake in Jupiter. Meanwhile, in the beginning of 2002 Jupiter's Supervisory Board changed the company's articles of association with the aim of facilitating the access of Winerstetische to the company's majority package of shares. According to Mr. Mirchev, these changes injured his interests and prevented him from finalizing the negotiations with Garant. But after the negotiations with Winerstetische the lawsuit becomes senseless, pundits comment.Meanwhile, it became clear that Winerstetische gave up not only Jupiter, but whatever investment in the Bulgarian insurance market. In the last few months the Austrian company researched one after the other the State Insurance Institute (DZI), Armeets, Bulgarski Imoti, and Jupiter. None of these companies, however, was up to the requirements of the Austrian insurer.