Банкеръ Weekly

Briefs

HASKOVO GAS SUPPLY - INSOLVENT AND DEPRIVED OF LICENCE

The Haskovo Gas Supply company is suffering hard times. Although 11% of its capital is held by the local municipality (a 78% stake is owned by Zdravko Dochev Todorov and another 10% one - by the Sofia-based Gasagroterm), the supplier will find it difficult to get out of the situation. First, on May 19 the local regional court declared it insolvent because of BGN224,000 debts to Bulgargas. Its property is now being described and its creditors are about to meet on June 17. One of the creditors is the Chimmach plant because of which the company is about to lose its gas distribution licence. The State Energy and Water Regulation Commission (SEWRC) already started the necessary proceedings and its experts say that the suspension of the document is just a matter of time. The administrative procedure began on March 14, 2005 after the mayor of Haskovo, Georgi Ivanov, informed the commission that nobody at the company had done anything for the gasification of the town in the past year.However, Haskovo Gas Supply officials claim that they had been building the gas distribution network until 2002, but Chimmach refused to give them access to the connection point. The supplying gas pipeline from Dimitrovgrad to Haskovo is owned by the plant and the two sides have been unable to reach an agreement for the equipment so far. The industrial giant was privatized in the summer of 1998 and according to the Daxy information system, it is owned by the US Gordon Holdings (25%), the German Machinen Cie (24%), the Bulgarian NT Nerotech (24%), a number of Austrian legal entities and the Ministry of Economy (each with a 3% stake). The rest of the shares are held by small Bulgarian shareholders. Chimmach officials claim their company owns part of the gas transporting equipment and should be paid 60% of the blue fuel supply revenues as it allows that part to be used. Still, the licensee is not willing to pay saying that a project for construction of a direct by-road gas pipeline worth EUR1.5MN has been initiated. A construction plan has been approved by the regional governor, they say, and preliminary contracts for the construction and the delivery of a distribution station and polyethylene pipelines have been signed. The company managers assure that they will restart gas supply in Haskovo by end-June, but no signed contracts for the gas pipeline have been shown to the SEWRC so far. Moreover, as a result from two-year legal debates between the Haskovo Gas Supply and Chimmach more than ten of the big enterprises that may use natural gas as a fuel are still operating with black oil.In fact, there are other applicants for the gas supply permission for the region, too. Last year, the Haskovo Central Gas Supply AD applied to the SEWRC for a new 15-year licence insisting that the commission suspend the blue fuel distribution rights of the current licensee. Curiously, 10% of this company is owned by Yordan Hristov who takes part in the Chimmach management and owns NT Nerotech. The remaining 90% of the shares of the potential licensee are property of the US Saytex Investments.

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