NAVIBULGAR BOND ISSUE UNDER QUESTION
The Privatisation Agency (PA) and PriceWaterhouse Coopers - the consultant on the privatisation of Navigation Maritime Bulgare (Navibulgar), are still discussing whether to launch a bond issue of the company. PA's permission is required any time the assets of the state-owned company are used or credits are drawn, because the company is under privatisation proceedings. The PA press centre informed that no final decision has been made on the bond issue. Talks with the consultant only concern the effect this credit may have on the liabilities of the company and on its sale. Vladimir Konstantinov, Navibulgar PR expert, confirmed the fact that the company has received no official statement from the PA. According to the plans, the bond issue should be worth USD75MN and have a 5 to 8 years term.In practice, the loan will not increase the company's liabilities, because the resources will be used for redemption of previous credits from foreign banks, Navibulgar experts claim. According to the clauses of the signed credit agreements, 19 Bulgarian ships are currently sailing under foreign countries' flags and are serving as collateral on the loans received in the early 1990s. The bond loan will allow the vessels to start sailing under the Bulgarian flag.Navibulgar had similar problems with the PA when it had to permit the BGN23.1MN credit from Hamburgische Landesbank. The agency allowed the drawing of the credit on February 12 and the first tranche was paid last week. The PA refused to give permission several times, because it did not approve the request that one container carrier and four ships be registered under the Maltian flag. In the beginning of 2003, however, the PA allowed the establishment of five Navibulgar companies in Malta which would acquire the ships.In fact, Navibulgar has had only one request rejected so far. The PA refused to allow it to draw a BGN5MN credit from a Bulgarian bank. The company needed the funds for payment to suppliers.