PORT FLEET-BOURGAS IN PRIVATE HANDS
The Sofia-based company ARZ-Holding 2002 is the new owner of Port Fleet-Bourgas. The Ministry of Transport and Telecommunications partned with the company for port services on January 6, 2003 when the Privatisation Agency (PA) signed a contract for the sale of its entire capital. The company was bought at BGN9MN. The buyer undertook a commitment to invest almost BGN9MN within three years and keep at least 210 employees on pay-roll.ARZ Holding, set up on September 24, 2002, is 100% owned by Nikifor Vangelov, who also particpates in the management of a number of other companies, among them the Sofia-based firms Nova Denitza, Fine Mechanics, and Mining Company. The holding has shares in six automobile repair plants (at the Iskar railway station, in Lyulin residential district in Sofia, in the towns of Purvomai, Kurdjali and Lyaskovets, and ARZ Krupp in Plovdiv). Procedures for the divestment of Port Fleet began in May 2002 when a tender with open bidding was held. The state-owned company's entire capital was put up for sale. The initial bid was BGN9.01MN, i.e. a bit higher than the price at which Port Fleet was finally sold. The tender was won by Litshipping, managed by Ganka Petrova then. Half of that company (50%) is owned by Grisha Ganchev's Litex Commerce. Litshipping offered BGN13.31MN for Port Fleet. The only other bidder was LM Impex, registered in the village of Prodanovtsi, near Samokov. (This company became known by the purchase of several small hydroelectric power stations and of the Chukurovo mine, and by leasing Eliseina). It is hardly a coincidence that the company's owner Hristo Kovachki is also Chairman of the BoD of Fine Mechanics and Nikifor Vangelov is a BoD member).However, the first attempt to divest Port Fleet failed because the winner in the tender refused to sign a contract with the PA. Litshipping pointed out as a motive the worsened financial state of the company while the divestment procedures were going on. In that situation, the offered price became higher than the company's real worth. According to the press centre of the former candidate buyer, Port Fleet's new competitor that appeared in May - Bourgas Pack Service - took away a considerable part of its business. Prior the tender the monthly proceeds of Port Fleet-Bourgas amounted to BGN800,000-900,000, and in the changed market situation after the bidding they decraesed by almost 50%, Litshipping claims. Port Fleet liabilities have increased too, reaching BGN7MN.In July the PA invited a second tender for the company's divestment. This time the offered purchase price dropped considerably - to BGN5.3MN. On December 18, 2002, ARZ Holding again raised Port Fleet's purchase price to BGN9MN and PA's Supervisory Board approved the deal which was finalized in January, 2003.