TOBACCO COMPANIES TO DISTRIBUTE EXPECTED DIVIDENDS
The shareholders of Blagorvgrad BT AD made a decision to set aside half of the enterprise's 2003 profit amounting to BGN21.11MN and distribute it as dividends. This became known after the company's general meeting on June 23. The enterprises under State guardianship are obliged to set aside 50% of their profits for paying dividends to shareholders. Blagoevgrad BT is the number one producer of tobacco products among the companies within Bulgartabac Holding. Its share on the cigarettes market was 42.01% last year, up from 39.45% in end-2002. As a result, proceeds of BGN189MN were transferred to the accounts of Blagoevgrad BT. Most of the factory's output was sold on the domestic market. Cigarettes worth the modest BGN22MN were exported. Bulgarians purchased 9.6 billion pieces of cigarettes from the company last year, while 1.8 billion pieces of the well-known brands Victory, GD and Melnik were marketed abroad. The company's new family - Prestige - got itself on the market last year. Presently, the tobacco manufacturer is still developing new brands, but they will try to find place on the high price segment of luxury cigarettes. Insiders claim interest has already been shown from abroad. This year Blagoevgrad BT intends to make investments of BGN19MN, of which BGN4MN is earmarked for introduction of a new technology for preliminary processing of tobacco. BGN15.8MN was invested last year in improvement of cigarettes' quality and diversification of products range. In addition to cigarettes the company sell also tobacco, tobacco midribs and acetate filters. The high-quality Oriental tobacco of the Nevrokop and Doupnitsa varieties, from which the most famous cigarette brands in the world are made, is its patent. The 2003 fair performance of Blagoevgrad BT influenced favourably the company's market capitalization, which was BGN121.81MN last year, 118% up from 2002. The other profit-making enterprise, from the structure of Sofia BT, will also distribute dividend for 2003. It will be BGN5.70 per share. The company's 2003 profit amounted to BGN15.4MN, of which BGN6.9MN was earmarked for dividend to its shareholders. The balance of its positive financial result will be set aside as reserves. The members of Bulgartabac Holding's Supervisory Board have remitted the entire amount of their remuneration directly to a charity bank account, a letter by the Deputy Premier and Minister of Economy Lidiya Shouleva, who is also a member of the tobacco holding's supervision, specifies. The letter was addressed to Roumyana Georgieva, MP from the Novoto Vreme faction, who had recently announced that the Supervisory Board members got BGN2,094 per month, which is in contradiction to the ordinance on remuneration, received by companies' managerial bodies. Ms. Shouleva has also checked how many representatives of the State participate in trade companies with state participation. According to her, they are 44, and in addition to Bulgartabac Holding among them are enterprises within the system of Balkancar Holding, Dounarit, Bourgas Copper Mines, and International Plovdiv Fair.