KAOLIN OFFERED EUR13MN FOR BULGARIAN RIVER SHIPPING
Kaolin AD - Senovo offered EUR13,164,443 (EUR21/share) for 70% of Bulgarian River Shipping - Rousse. This was the highest of the three bids, filed by the deadline May 25. Kaolin AD is controlled by Alfa Finance Holding, which purchased 30% of the Rousse-based company last year. Ivo Prokopiev, publisher of the Capital and Dnevnik newspapers is among the owners. Kaolin AD produces building materials and owns the biggest kaolin deposit in the Balkan peninsular. The company has promised to invest EUR20MN in Bulgarian River Shipping over the next five years and to increase the number of working positions to 750.The other bidders for the majority package of Bulgarian River Shipping which filed final offers were the Sofia-based Chimimport AD and Toplivo AD (the main company in the portfolio of Sinergon Holding). Toplivo AD offered to pay EUR5.2MN (EUR8.20/share) and to invest EUR10MN. The bidder is ahead of the other candidate buyers only regarding the number of working positions by its promise to employ 773 people. Chimimport's purchase offer stood at BGN22MN (BGN35.10/share), but the Sofia-based company undertook to invest EUR25MN during the next five years. However, it was intending to open only 731 working positions. Chimimport AD currently holds interest in more than 50 companies. The most significant between them are: Hemus Air, CCB Group Asset Management, Oil and Gas Prospecting and Extraction, Kambana - Polski Trambesh, and Sunny Rays Bulgaria - Provadia. CCB Group Asset Management, on its part, controls Central Cooperative Bank, Armeets insurance and reinsurance company, and CCB Sila AD pension insurance fund.The filed offers are yet to be considered and rated by the Privatisation Agency (PA). 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 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. Two more companies had applied for participation in the competition but did not file binding offers. These were the Cyprus-registered Bulcom Limited and Hungary's Masped Rt. The latter withdrew back prior the filing of preliminary offers. Bulgarian River Shipping reported a BGN412,000 profit for the first quarter of 2005, more than ten-fold up from the same period of 2004 (BGN31,000). The company's proceeds increased from BGN5MN to BGN6.9MN, the bulk of them - BGN5.4MN - resulting from its transport operations. The volume of cargoes, however, dropped by 12.5% to 371,300 tons.