WINERSTETISCHE MAY ALSO BID FOR DZI
ITALIAN COMPANIES INTERESTED IN ARMEETSThe new sale procedure for the State Insurance Institute (DZI) will be opened on March 4, the Privatisation Agency (PA) announced. Bulgartabac will be put up for sale on the same date. A new candidate for DZI - the Austrian insurance company Winerstetische - has turned up as well. It is allegedly much interested also in an investment in the Bulgarski Imoti insurance company.Winerstetische is one of the leading insurance companies in Europe, based in Vienna. The company, established in 1824, works with private clients and institutions. It has partners in Germany, Hungary, Italy, Croatia, Romania, Slovenia, and the Czech Republic. Eight per cent of the company's capital is held by Bank Austria.The Italian companies Bonaldi and Crastolla Partners and the US financial holding Lukeida National Corp. are said to be the other candidates for DZI.Lukeida National Corp., based in New York, is engaged in insurance and bank services jointly with American Investment Bank. Its annual revenues amount to USD656MN and its net profit is USD70.9MN. The company has 1,383 on pay-roll.Crastolla Partners is a consulting company, specialized in financial operations. This means that Crastolla may be acting on behalf of a client, whose name is not known yet.Bonaldi is a financial-industrial group, specialized in financial and credit services and insurance.The above-mentioned companies have allegedly showed interest towards the insurance and reinsurance company Armeets as well. Armeets, which is a part of DZI group, will be sold separately from DZI, the PA specified in the end of 2001. So far the Varna-based strong-arm group TIM was said to be the only candidate for Armeets.The evaluation of Armeets, which is being prepared by Deloitte Touche, should be ready by the end of March or early April, pundits said. A sale procedure for the company's privatisation will follow.A second procedure for the sale of the state-run insurer is expected to be invited by end-February. DZI's evaluation, carried out by Deloitte Touche, was submited to the PA ten days ago. As per PA's new strategy, the potential investor will be offered between 70% and 80% of the company's capital. The PA intends to put up some 20-20% of DZI for sale on the Bulgarian Stock Exchange.The negotiations with the former candidate buyer of DZI - the consortium between TBI and the management-employee buyout company MEBO DZI 2000 - failed in the end of 2001 after the consortium refused to pay USD20.5MN in cash for 67% of the company's assets.According to pundits, the new candidates insisted on seeing the state insurer's results for 2001 before stating more serious intentions. However, the evaluation made by Deloitte Touche was based on DZI's consolidated financial report for the year 2000. The potential investors' demand for more recent data might prove difficult to fulfill, taking into consideration that DZI's official results for 2001 will be ready in end-March at the earliest. But the PA plans to open the divestment procedure by that time.