Банкеръ Weekly

Briefs

HIMCO IS LOOKING FOR A BIGGER MARKET SHARE

Valentin Dimitrov, Himco Management Board Chairman to the Banker weekly

Mr. Dimitrov, what is your opinion on the achievements Himco has after the period for fertilizing the soil is over?
- We have sold more than 110 thousand tonnes at the local market, which is a record in the last five years. This is 40% of the plant's production. We've put a lot of effort for promoting urea among Bulgarian farmers. Urea is the most concentrated of nitrate fertilizers and has been in use worldwide for a long time. Unfortunately, the policy followed before was directed towards predominant export of urea, and the management did not make any effort in promoting ura production locally. For the last two years we have put a lot of effort in that particular aspect, so that now we already have a considerable growth.

What market share does Himco have at the local market of nitrate fertilisers?
- Dimitrovgrad Neochim and the Devnya based Agropolychim have sold totally some 800,000 tonnes this year. So that our market share is rather modest. For the next couple of years we hope to gain not more than 20%, which is absolutely satisfactory.

What is the situation at the international market?
- During that season we exported mainly to the USA and some neighbour countries - Greece, Turkey, Macedonia. We exported totally 150,000 tonnes. The Macedonian crysis had a serious negative impact, as we have not exported anything to Macedonia since March.

This month in Himco started large scale investments. Would you say a few words about this?
- Money were provided by the Canadian Lavelen. This is one of the biggest engineering companies worldwide. It has specialised in building plants like ours, and even refineries. It has handled the engineering upon the construction of Himco, which also influenced our choice. Besides, the company has provided for the financing of the project.
The investment programme consists of two major stages. The first stage will consist of building granulated urea installation. It will cost some USD48MN. It will be finalised in September 2003.
The secomd stage - from 2003 till 2006 - will centre round the reconstruction and expansion of the plant's thermal electro station. We will replace the current Russian turbines with new ones. We will increase the steam and heating steam production possibilities. Thus Himco will both satisfy its own needs, and will sell electricity and heating steam to Vratza. The financing we will need for the second stage is about USD100MN and the negotiations are still ongoing.

Which banks have launched the financing of the first stage of the investment programme?
- This is a consortium of Belgian banks, which we will meet within two weeks, when we are going to visit them. The credit was launched at a standard European rate. We have agreed a two years grace period, while the construction work will be taking place, and the repayment period is eight years.

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