Банкеръ Weekly

Briefs

VARNA SHIPYARD TO BE SAVED BY A TRIPLE BYPASS

There are no guarantees that after the bankrupt Bristish Camel Leard and Varna Shipyard set up a new company, the liabilities of the Bulgarian ship-builder will be serviced. This was the main motive of the Supreme Cassation Court (SCC) for its ruling in favour of the twelve creditors, who had filed appeals against the rehabilitation plan for the shipyard, under which the British were to acquire its assets for BGL28MN. The magistrates ruled that the deal contains a number of future uncertain events, including the establishment of a Bulgarian commercial company - Camel leard Varna Shipyard. According to them, the future company cannot undertake to fulfill the commitments, undertaken by the British, for paying off the liabilities to creditors. Under SCC's ruling, the lawsuit goes back to the Varna Court of Appeal, which should take into consideration SCC's motives and send it to the court of first instance - the Varna Regional Court. Having in mind the extensive motives of 27 pages, it is almost impossible for the Varna magistrates to make a decision other than announcing the rehabilitation plan null and void.Meanewhile, on October 22 the Minsitry of Economy began collecting offers for the shipyard's sale. Among the bidders are: the Greek Kiriaku Group, the US consortium Howgan Marice Service (ellegedly the most serious candidate), the swiss Fison Invest, the consortium between the Varna-based ship-building plant Odessos and Industrial Holding Bulgaria (including managers of the shipyard as well), the German Odendorf, and a Norwegian marine company which Deputy Premier and Minister fo Economy Nikolai Vassilev has not named yet. The future buyer will certainly face serious problems, foremost with Central Cooperative Bank (CCB), which has receivables of BGL10MN and has been acknowledged as a first-class creditor. Under the rehabilitation plan, CCB was to get back only 17% of its receivables, although they are guaranteeed by a mortgage on an almost built vessel, towards which interest has been announecd by several foreign buyers. In the current situation, however, CCB would hardly give up getting back all its receivables. Negotiations can be held with the other creditors only. Varna Shipyard's debts total BGL1165MN, more than 90% of which is due to some 20 creditors.The State presently owns 75% of the company, and the balance of 25% is in private hands, acquired through mass privatisaation or on the stock exchange. If no agreement with the creditors is reached, the option pointed out by the trustee in banruptcy Smilenov will be applied, i.e. a tender will be invited for selling the shipyard as a whole. The tender will be won by the highest bid, and the money will be distributed among the creditors according to their class. According to experts' recent evaluations, the shipyard's assets are bewteen BGL50MN and BGL90MN. In that case, the Bank Consolidation Company and CCB, which are ranked as first-class creditors with BGL53MN, will get back almost all their receivables. Thus, othing might be left for the other classes (employees, the State, and unguaranteed creditors).

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