MANY CANDIDATES, BUT A FEW BUYERS FOR DEMIRBANK (BULGARIA)
Despite the holiday season and the summer lull in the bank sector, candidate-buyers queued at the door of Demirbank (Bulgaria). The BANKER weekly learned that the Bulgarian foreign-trade company Chimimport and the Italian bank UniCredito had already signed confidentiality contracts with the Turkish Agency for Bank Regulation and Supervision. However, this does not mean that by the deadline - August 20 - other bidders will not appear.
As the BANKER has already written, Demirbank (Bulgaria) attracted the attention of Chimimport's present owners as early as in the beginning of 2001. In November 2000 the one-time foreign-trade company was purchased by Fertiton Inc, registered on the Virgin Islands. After the change of ownership, Chimimport's management was entrusted to Dimitar Atanasov Kalchev and Ivo Kamenov Georgiev. The latter participates in several firms, where his partners are Marin Mitev and Tihomir Mitev - two of the bosses of the Varna strong-arm group TIM. According to local businessmen, they are the real owners of Chimimport. This gave grounds to some bankers to believe that TIM's bosses now want to include a bank in their group's empire.
The Italian UniCredito, which acquired the top Bulgarian financial institution, BULBANK, in end-2000, wants to buy not only Demirbank (Bulgaria), but also a 52.5% stake in Demirbank (Romania) S.A., which on its part holds 36.33% of the leasing company Demir Romlease S.A. The headquarters of the Italian group neither confirmed nor denied that information. The official answer, which the BANKER received from Viviana Vestrucci, responsible for UniCredito's international relations, was that the bank's officials who could provide information on the matter were on leave.
Bulgarian bank circles comment that interest towards Demirbank (Bulgaria) has been shown by Russian groups, connected with the gas and petrol buisness. According to others, Demirbank (Bulgaria) has attracted the attention of Tokushukai Medical Corporation, a subsidiary of International Hospital Serviecs, which on its part is a majority shareholder in Tokuda Credit Express Bank. BULSTARD's majority shareholder TBI is also said to be interested in the Bulgaria-based credit institution.
The Executive Director of the Bulgarian Holding Company (BHC) Pirin Atanassov refuted in front of the BANKER allegations that the BHC intended to undertake steps for the purchase of Demirbank (Bulgaria).