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TOURIST COMPANIES TO BE PRIVATIZED ON THE STOCK EXCHANGE, TOO

The Privatisation Agency (PA) is going to offer for sale state-owned stakes in nine tourist companies. The shares will be traded against compensation instruments or cash. The companies are divided into two pools. Tourism 1 pool includes a 14.7% stake of the capital of Eztour AD, 19.2% of the capital of Zografski AD, 18% of Intertravelservice AD, and 100% of Kalotina - Balkantourist EAD. Tourism 2 pool includes a 5.5% stake of Veliko Turnovo Grand Hotel AD, 15.75% of Shterev Tour AD, 16.65% of Kaliakra Hotels AD, 6.9% of Serdicom, and 10.75% of Riga Hotels. The shares of Zografski, Intertravelservice, Kalotina - Balkantourist, Serdicom, and Riga Hotels, will be offered for cash, and the rest will be traded for compensatory instruments.There is just one tourist company among the offered ones that is entirely owned by the state - Kalotina - Balkantourist. So far, the Ministry of Economy has made two attempts to sell it, both in 2000 - through negotiations with potential buyers and through a competition. An 80% stake of the company's capital was offered the second time at an initial price of USD192,000. Especially for the privatisation of Kalotina - Balkantourist, investors established two companies - Balkantour Kalotina and Kalotina Balkantourist 99. Nevertheless, the company could not be sold.A 19.2% stake of the capital of the well known Zografski company, majority owner of the Sofia Kempinski Zografski Hotel, will be offered on the stock exchange. The major stake (80%) of the shares was sold on December 14, 1994, for DEM65MN paid in Bulgarian foreign debt bonds. The former Vitosha-New Otany hotel was once acquired by the German entrepreneur of Bulgarian origin, Ivan Zografski, and then took his name.There are three companies in the two pools in which MG controls significant shares. One of them is Intertravelservice company, of which 18% will now be offered to investors. Fifty-seven per cent of its capital was sold for BGN14.6MN on January 25, 2002. The stake was acquired by Balkantourist which is mainly owned by MG. Intertravelservice ended last year at a loss amounting to BGN513,000. The negative result was up from a BGN400,000 loss reported in 2002. The operating revenues of the company just reach BGN58,000. The most attractive piece of its assets is the former seaside residence called Perla.A 5.5% stake of Veliko Turnovo Grand Hotel, the other company dominated by structures of the late Iliya Pavlov empire, will be privatised, too. During the mass privatisation, the Lichtenstein offshore company Megawatt Invest Limited (related to MG) acquired 9.91% of the shares of the tourist company in 1997. Then its capital was raised and as a result, the stake held by the Lichtenstein firm grew considerably. Veliko Turnovo Grand Hotel ended 2003 at a loss, too. It amounted to BGN162,000 - still lower than the result reported in 2002 (when the loss amounted to BGN469,000). Last year the operating revenues of the company were approximately BGN2MN.A 6.7% stake of Serdicom will be sold on the stock exchange. The company is part of the MG assets, too. In 2000, Commerce Trust owned by MG Elite Holding paid USD5.2MN to acquire 53% of the Serdicom shares. The holding controls another 22% stake directly. Serdicom attracts investors with the ownership of a 19.66% stake of the capital of the Sofia Bulgaria Grand Hotel. Again, this company dominated by MG ended last year at a loss amounting to BGN111,000 (down from BGN179,000 in 2002). Its operating revenues amount to just BGN272,000.The Pravets-based Eztour company was established in 1990 as an heir of part of the assets and liabilities of Balkantourist. At present, half of its capital is owned by Tera Tour Service EOOD. The state-owned stake offered on the stock exchange contains 14.7% of the capital, and the remaining shares are held by 373 individuals. The company is run by Roumen Gouninski. According to its accounting reports, last year was not quite successful for it, either. Its loss amounted to BGN260,000 (yet lower than the loss reported in 2002 - BGN308,000). The company's 2003 revenues reach BGN614,000.The state-owned stake (15.75%) of the capital of the Karlovo-based Shterev Tour (the former Rosa Tour) will be privatised through the stock exchange, too. The 60% majority stake was sold to Shteryu Shterev sole proprietor in 2000 for USD260,000. Just a year later, Shteryu Shterev acquired another 20% stake of the company in return to USD86.7,000.Investors will also be offered a 16.65% stake of the capital of Kaliakra Hotels - Kavarna. A smaller stake, 10.75%, will be offered from the capital of the Rousse-based tourist company Riga Hotels. The company is controlled by Transcontinental Holding which paid USD1.2MN to acquire 78% of its capital in the summer of 1999.

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