1,783 DEALS REMAIN TO BE CLOSED BY THE END OF PRIVATISATION
The signing of another 1,783 deals will bring Bulgaria to the end of the privatisation process in 2002, Deputy Premier and Minister of the Economy Nikolai Vassilev said during the week, shortly before the 28th amendment to the Privatisation Act was filed to the Cabinet. Proceeds from the planned sales, among them those of Bulgartabac Holding, Bulgarian Telecommunications Company (BTC), and the State Insurance Institute (DZI) are pre-estimated at almost USD300MN. About 30 of the 137 companies, which former premier Ivan Kostov's cabinet said should not be privatized, will remain state-owned. Bulgargas, the N-plant of Kozlodoui, Air Traffic Control, the National Electricity Company, and the Bulgarian State Railways (BDZ) are on that list. The Privatisation Agency (PA) and the Ministry of Economy will be pursuing five aims: transparency, speed, maximum proceeds, attraction of the best investors, and increase of working positions, Mr. Vassilev summarized.I don't have any special expectation for this year. Proceeds from divestment deals would hardly exceed USD30MN, unless we sell DZI, PA's Executive Director Apostol Apostolov said. In September alone the PA agreed payments worth BGL85MN, as compared to BGL10MN in the first half of the year. Mr. Apostolov declared that a new tender will be invited if a purchase price of USD20.5MN for 67% of DZI's assets could not be negotiated with the candidate buyer - the consortium between TBI and the DZI 2000 MEBO.Five potential investors have announced interest in the divestment of Bulgartabac Holding, which gives the Government grounds for optimism regarding the quick finalization of that privatisation deal. The Varna Shipyard has so far attracted the interest of six companies. Deutschebank and Creditanstalt will be probably the respective consultants in the privatisation deals for BTC and Bulgartabac Holding.The amendments to the Privatisation Act will regulate the separation of post-privatisation control as a different agency. PA's Supervisory Board will wound up after the new regulatory body is set up. Negotiations with potential buyers will be revoked as a privatisation method, and preferential treatment of MEBOs will be dropped down as well. The privatisation departments with the eight ministries, which were so far handling the sale of state-owned stakes, will be closed down, too. The Ministry of Economy will undertake the finalization of mass privatisation and will implement a programme for utilizing the huge resource of compensation instruments of payment.