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불가리아 주요 경제뉴스(31 AUGUST – 5 SEPTEMBER 2007)

Mайка 2007. 9. 5. 21:26

BULGARIAN ECONOMIC TOP NEWS DIGEST

WEEKLY REPORT (31 AUGUST – 5 SEPTEMBER 2007)

 

 

 

Sections/headline briefs:

 

 

MACROECONOMY:

 

·        South Korea eyeing Bulgarian energy infrastructure building projects

·        � 180m for administrative projects

·        Bulgarian budget surpluss: 1621.6 % higher than expected

·        Greece and Bulgaria turn down Russia`s to buy shares in Burgas-Alexandropolis pipeline project

·        Bulgaria's Burgas presses for referendum on pipeline plans

·        Bulgarian foreign minister begins central asian tour

·        Bulgaria is of great interest for Kazakhstan

·        Reasons for Kozloduy NPP’s failure still unknown

·        E.On, CEZ & Enel SpA shortlisted for Building Belene NPP

·        Russia's major missile developer paves its way to Bulgaria's second NPP

·        Russia considers meat import from Bulgaria

·        Russia edging UK as biggest market for Bulgarian vacation homes

·        Russia`s Mechel to acquire HSEs Bulgarian power plant for more than USD 117 million

·        EU roaming regulation enters into force

·        EU entry to trigger increase in IT spending in Bulgaria

·        Syndicates will fight the flat tax

·        EC approves program for improving honey, presented by Bulgaria

·        Patent tax to go to municipal budgets

·        EU-Backed Inspection finds genetically modified foods in Bulgaria

·        Ten bidders shortlisted in second subway line tender

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

INVESTMENTS:

 

·        GEK Group to invest � 150m in projects in Bulgaria

·        Nokia invited to invest in Bulgaria

·        State hampers biofuel production

·        Italy's Elco to build motor components factory in Krivodol

·        Bulgarian tycoon to invest � 98 mln in new cold rolling mill

·        Raiffeisen tops ranking of investment intermediaries

·        GTM-Angel Balevski gets top-class certificate for EUR 147mn real estate project

 

 

 

COMPANIES:

 

·        Bulgaria maritime fleet bid deadline pushed back to Nov 8

·        India's company pays BGN 1 million for Navibulgar

·        Audi to open new showroom in Sofia

·        Raiffeisenbank registers factoring company

·        KTsM to process car batteries for lead production

·        Countdown for BTC begins

·        Enel defends position over sulphur dioxide pollution in bulgarian village

·        Belvedere opens Svilengrad area wine cellar

·        Microsoft customer center staff in Sofia reaches 100

·        U.S. PepsiAmericas buys 20% of Bulgarian bottler Agrima

 

 

 

ANALYSIS:

 

·        Bulgaria becomes financially stable, predictable - PM Says

·        Brussels tightens its grip on Chinese imports

·        Which companies posted highest H1 profit in Bulgaria?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Articles:

 

 

 

MACROECONOMY:

South Korea eyeing Bulgarian energy infrastructure building projects

Korea is seeking to participate in the building of energy infrastructure in Bulgaria as part of efforts to expand its presence in the Eastern European market, the government said Tuesday (Sept. 4).The Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy said cooperation is possible in such areas as the multi-national Nabucco pipeline project and the planned construction of high voltage electric cables linking Bulgaria and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia."Commerce, Industry Minister Kim Young-ju, who is to meet Bulgaria's Minister of Economy and Energy Petar Dimitrov on Wednesday, is expected to ask for closer bilateral cooperation in these areas," said a ministry official.He said the $5.8 billion Nabucco project is attractive not only due to its size, but because Korean companies enjoy world-class competitiveness in the construction business.The pipeline aims to reduce Europe's dependence on Russian gas by building a 3,300-kilometer pipeline. The pipeline can bring natural gas from Iran through Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Austria.Construction is expected to run from 2009 to 2012, with Bulgaria's state-run Bulgargaz responsible for constructing the pipeline that runs through the country's borders.Seoul has been increasingly focusing on Eastern Europe, where countries provide a large pool of skilled workers and levy modest taxes on companies. Foreign direct investment in 10 Eastern European countries reached $40.9 billion in 2005 from $15.6 billion in 2003.

� 180m for administrative projects

Bulgaria's Administrative Capacity operative programme is expected to get Brussels' final approval in September. Thus the projects, which will apply for EU funding under the programme, will be accepted as of October. Nikolay Vassilev, minister of state administration, will appoint in November a committee, which will review and assess the projects. The first contracts are expected to be signed in December 2007.The Administrative Capacity operative programme will be funded under the European Social Fund. Bulgaria will receive a total of EUR 153,670,724 from the fund in the period 2007-13. The state co-funding will amount to EUR 27,118,363 in the period. This will allow projects with a combined value of EUR 180,789,087 to be approved under the programme. A total of EUR 13 million funding for projects will be extended under the programme for 2007. The figure will increase gradually and is expected to reach EUR 33 million towards the end of the period.The main objective of the programme is to improve the work of the state administration in order to be able to offer quality services to the citizens and the business, as well as to create conditions for sustained economic growth and employment. The programme also aims at improving the professionalism, transparency and accountability of the judiciary.Beneficiaries under the programme will be the central and local administrations, the judiciary, as well as non-governmental organisations. Potential candidates for funding are all administrative structures (including ministries), state commissions, state agencies, executive agencies, the ombudsman, regional administrations, the judiciary, as well as non-governmental organisations. The implementation of the projects, however, encompasses a much wider range of partners.
One of the main difficulties for the absorption of the funding under the programme will be the large number of public procurement order procedures, which will have be organised, according to Nikolay Vassilev.

Bulgarian budget surpluss: 1621.6 % higher than expected

For the period till 31 July Bulgarian budget surplus is 16 times higher than the one set in the law for 2007. This shows information on the implementation of the state budget, posted on the website of Ministry of finance.The expected surplus for the whole year is around 134.4 M BGN (67.2 M EUR). However, up till now the surplus is 2.18 bn BGN (1.9 bn EUR). The increase is practically 1621.6%. 62.9% of the foreseen revenues, which is 9.14 bn BGN (4.5 bn EUR) from the expected 14.54 bn BGN (7.27 bn EUR) have so far been collected. The rated collection of non-tax incomes is higher than that of tax ones – respectively 73.5% against 61.5%.At the same time a little less than half of the budget expenses for the year have been spent for the mentioned period. The sum set for expenses and transfers is 13.77 bn BGN (6.88 bn EUR). 6.65 bn BGN (3.32 bn EUR) or 48.3% of them have been spent.

Greece and Bulgaria turn down Russia`s to buy shares in Burgas-Alexandropolis pipeline project

Greece and Bulgaria turned down Russia’s new demand concerning the Bourgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline project.Russia demanded that both countries sell their shares in the pipeline, Greek newspaper Express said, referring to a Bulgarian company representative participating in the project, as quoted by Bulgarian National Radio.
According to the newspaper, Russia had stated its demand at a recent meeting in Athens. At the meeting, Russia said that it wanted Bulgaria and Greece to guarantee oil deliveries that corresponded to their share participation in the project. Greece and Bulgaria were unable to provide such quantities of crude oil, and if they accepted the Russian proposal, they would have had to sell their shares in the Bourgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline, Greek website innews.gr said.If the two countries fail to provide the desired quantity of oil, they will find themselves in a difficult situation and will make it possible for foreign companies or Kazakh purchase of their shares, which is obviously Russia’s will, the website said.Russia probably was not be able to provide enough oil to fill the pipeline’s capacity, which is 35 million tons a year, the website said.

Bulgaria's Burgas presses for referendum on pipeline plans

Citizens of Bulgaria's Burgas have been urged to have their say on plans for constructing an oil pipeline between their port and Greece's Alexandroupolis in a referendum.A sign-up to support the idea for holding a referendum was launched on Monday at the initiative of Gergyovden party and in the hope to collect at least 50,000 signatures. This would give Burgas citizens the right to insist that the municipality negotiates the best terms possible for taking part in the project.At the beginning of July it emerged that the locals at the Evros province in northeastern Greece could block the construction of Burgas - Alexandroupolis pipeline over concerns about the potential environmental risks.Bulgaria, Greece and Russia agreed to build the pipeline, which would take Caspian oil to the Mediterranean skirting the congested Bosphorus, earlier this year after more than a decade of intermittent talks.The 280-kilometre pipeline, with 166 kilometres passing through Bulgaria, will have an initial annual capacity of 35 million tonnes, which could be later expanded to 50 million tonnes. Its costs are estimated at up to USD 900 M.

Bulgarian foreign minister begins central asian tour

Bulgaria's foreign minister Ivaylo Kalfin will begin a four-day tour of central Asia on Monday, the first visit by a top Bulgarian official to the region in more than a decade, in a bid to diminish Bulgaria's dependence on Russian energy supplies.Kalfin's four-day tour will begin in Kazakhstan, followed by Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, and energy-related issues are expected to top the agenda.Under pressure from Russia to contribute a quarter of the crude pumped through the planned Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline, Bulgaria has looked at possible options to secure the oil, since it has no reserves of its own.Kazakhstan has been reported to be interested in the pipeline, which will take Caspian oil from Russia's maritime in Novorossiysk and into the Mediterranean bypassing the congested Bosphorus straits.Kalfin is also expected to negotiate possible deliveries of natural gas from Tajikistan and Turkmenistan to diversify its sources of supply, which is now dominated by Russia's state-owned gas giant Gazprom.

Bulgaria is of great interest for Kazakhstan

"Cooperation between Kazakhstan and Bulgaria affords new opportunities to get an access to the European market," Kazakhstan Industry and Trade Minister Galym Orazbakov told at today’s business forum with the participation of the domestic and Bulgarian business circles.“Bulgaria is of great interest for Kazakhstan as a full-fledged member of the European Union. The commodity turnover between the states has perspectives. First of all, Kazakhstan’s economic growth, its regional leadership, targeted strategies of the outward investments in the sales promotion. Secondly, we are interested in deliveries of the Bulgarian goods to Kazakhstan, in particular, engineering products and farm produce. We have intentions to further the development of traditional ties between the two countries,” Orazbakov said.Later, at a briefing in Astana, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria Ivailo Kalfin made it public that President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev was invited to Bulgaria."I handed a letter on behalf of the Bulgarian president to Mr. Nazarbayev containing the invitation to visit our country at any time convenient”, he said.Moreover, the Vice Prime Minister also noted that Kazakhstan and Bulgaria had lots of opportunities for developing commercial, transport and power cooperation.For the first half of 2007 the commodity turnover between the countries has amounted to USD 16.3 million.

Reasons for Kozloduy NPP’s failure still unknown

Unit five at Bulgaria's sole nuclear power station has undergone an emergency shutdown.
Facility operators at the Kozloduy nuclear power station on the Danube River said the incident did not cause any radioactive leak.It was not immediately clear what triggered the automated safety system shutdown at the 1000-megawatt VVER type unit or what repairs will be needed. At the end of last year, hours before joining the European Union, the country shut down reactors number 3 and 4 at Kozloduy nuclear power station to meet the safety requirements of the European block.
It is still not clear how long it will take to recover the disorder which caused a failure in Kozloduy NPP’s fifth unit and led to its closure, director of the station Ivan Genov announced.The generator of the unit was switched off from the energy system at 3.29 am, the press office of the NPP informed earlier.The unit will be closed for at least a week. Troubleshooting may take even longer. There are no problems for the employees at the station and the energy system of Bulgaria, Genov added.The only problems are economic ones and they concern the station, he said further.

E.On, CEZ & Enel SpA shortlisted for Building Belene NPP

Enel SpA was shortlisted, along with five other companies, to take part in a joint venture to build a 7 bln eur nuclear power in Bulgaria, Il Corriere della Sera and other newspapers said citing company sources.The companies shortlisted include Electricite de France, Suez's Electrabel, E.ON AG, RWE AG and CEZ of the Czech Republic, Il Corriere della Sera said.The participants have until Sept 24 to present offers to buy a 49 pct stake in the Belene Power Company that will run the power plant. The remaining 51 pct will be owned by Bulgarian electric utility Natsionalna Elektricheska Kompania EAD(NEK).The nuclear plant is expected to cost 4 bln eur to build, while related infrastructure work will amount to 3 bln, the newspapers said.The plant will be equipped with two water-pressurized reactors with a capacity of 1,000 megawatts each.It will be build by the Russian company Atomstroyexport and will be operational in 2013, the daily MF added.

Russia's major missile developer paves its way to Bulgaria's second NPP

Almaz-Antei, Russia's main producer of air-defence rockets, may join the construction of Bulgaria's second nuclear power plant at Belene after signing an accord with Atomstroyexport.Russia's Atomstroyexport was picked by Bulgaria to build two 1000 MW nuclear reactors at Belene on the Danube coast, with the total cost of the project estimated at close to EUR 2 B.The agreement between the two Russian companies, inked on August 29, provides for cooperation on the energy market in constructing generating facilities, including nuclear power plants, according to a statement of Atomstroyexport.
Under the agreement the two Russian companies "will join their strong sides in implementing investment projects in the energy field in order to secure the development of generating facilities for successful companies in the military-industrial complex", the statement says.Atomstroyexport said it is interested in using Almaz-Antei, one of the world's biggest military concerns, in its nuclear power plants projects in Russia and abroad.Meanwhile the Bulgarian News Agency announced that a total of 300 workers and experts are preparing what will turn into Belene nuke site.The site has been visited by representatives of the companies shortlisted in the tender to pick a strategic investor for 49% in Belene nuclear power plant.A month ago Bulgaria's power grid operator NEK shortlisted Czech CEZ, German E.ON and RWE, Belgian Electrabel, Electricite de France and Italy's Enel.Atomstroyexport has promised to put into operations the first unit in six years after the start of construction works. The second unit launch is scheduled for a year later.The Belene plant will use two third-generation water-cooled VVER-1000 reactors.

Russia considers meat import from Bulgaria

Russia may import meat and meat products from Bulgaria, the Federal Veterinarian and Phytosanitary Control Service said on Thursday.Representatives of the service went to Bulgaria earlier in the day to check safety and quality control procedures for two weeks.
They will visit central, regional and border veterinarian services, customs warehouses, cattle farms, slaughterhouses, processing plants and checkpoints handling cattle products
at sea and river ports.

Russia edging UK as biggest market for Bulgarian vacation homes

Sales of vacation homes on the Bulgarian Black Sea coastline to Russian buyers have become to outnumber the transactions involving British nationals, shows a survey conducted by property company Green Life Property Development.The company Tuesday unveiled its Paradise Bay Apartments and Hotel complex near resort town Sozopol. English-speakers drove 80% of the market just a year ago but that ratio has since been reversed and now British buyers account for only 20% of property transactions, said Green Life Property Development executive director Nikolai Pehlivanov. He singled out Muscovites in particular. Nationals from the Baltic states, Romania, Belarus and Kazakhstan have also snapped up local vacation properties in significant numbers.Buyer paradigms are also shifting. The Britons were looking for bargain prices while the Russians are less price-conscious but big on high-end add-ons like a beachfront location and the proximity of spa, fitness, swimming and tennis venues.The market overview prepared by the company indicates that holiday homes along Bulgaria's southern coastline have appreciated by an average of 18% so far in 2007 in comparison with the year-ago period.Green Life said Sozopol properties are fetching 800-1,500 euro/sq m, up from 600-1,200 a year ago. Tsarevo has moved into the 600-1,100 euro/sq m range, improving from 500-950 euro in 2006. The asking sale prices for vacation homes in Lozenets have increased to an average of 600-1,200 euro/sq m versus 500-1,000 euro a year earlier. Prices in Primorsko rose to 600-1,100 euro/sq m from 550-950 euro in 2006.The price gains were registered mainly by properties with value-added services and facilities in close proximity to the beach. The owners of such properties posted a return of 5% to 7% this summer, said Pehlivanov.The bulk of the Bulgarian holiday homes are rented by Westerners with a good prior knowledge of the local tourist product, said Green Life. The number of rentals to Bulgarians, Czechs and Poles also increased in 2007.

Russia`s Mechel to acquire HSEs Bulgarian power plant for more than USD 117 million

Russias Mechel OAO has agreed to acquire Holding Slovenske Electrarne (HSE)s Rousse, Bulgaria power plant for more than USD 117 million. HSE signed an agreement to purchase the 400 MW power plant from the Bulgarian government, after submitting a winning bid of USD 117 million at a privatisation tender. The Ljubljana-based company announced that it would ask the Bulgarian government for permission to sell a 49 pct stake in the company to an unnamed business partner. Mechel will acquire the 49 pct stake this year, and that the metals and mining conglomerate will purchase the remaining 51 pct within the next three years. Mechel will take control of the plant this year. Mechels core activities are steel production and iron ore, nickel and coal mining. It also operates the Moskoks coke and gas plant, which includes a 30 MW power plant.

EU roaming regulation enters into force

As of September 1st the EU Roaming Regulation enters into force. It stipulates the prices of calls within EU states have to annually drop. The 2007 maximum rate is EUR 0.49 for outgoing calls and EUR 0.24 for incoming calls, while for 2008 it is EUR 0.46 for outgoing calls and EUR 0.22 for incoming calls.Bulgarian mobile operators - M-Tel, Globul and Vivatel, will launch the new cheaper roaming tariffs before the deadline set by the European Commission (EC). M-Tel and Vivatel offer one and the same roaming prices in the frames of the EU - BGN 1.15/m for outgoing calls and BGN 0.56/m for incoming calls. Globul, on the other hand, announced it would decrease prices even further - BGN 1.08/m and BGN 0.516/m for outgoing and incoming calls, respectively.

EU entry to trigger increase in IT spending in Bulgaria

The IT markets of EU newcomers Bulgaria and Romania are the next to draw substantial advantages from the country's accession to the Union, but not before due preparation, Scott Moore, a senior consultant at the Hungarian office of the analytical company IDC, said. “The total benefit the IT sector [of the 10 countries to join the EU in 2004] reaped until the end of 2006 amounted to $27 billion,” Moore said. He said the IT spending stemming directly from EU10's membership hovers in the 8.2 to 8.4 billion US dollar range. The sectors to prove the top beneficiaries of IT upgrades with EU funds were the public sector, SMEs, education, telecoms, healthcare and utilities, according to Moore.
Still, the main stumbling blocks are bureaucracy, improper preparation of applications, as well as inability of applicants to find sources of own financing for the projects.Nelly Vacheva, managing director of IDC Bulgaria, said that with the latest EU newcomers, Bulgaria and Romania, spending dynamics and IT markets would be similar.Bulgaria’s IT spending this year is estimated to grow by 40.1 per cent year-on-year in 2007, as compared to 3.5 per cent the year before, according to Vacheva. She said that the bulk of the spending increase should be attributed to corporate and public alignment to EU standards.

Syndicates will fight the flat tax

Confederation of the Independent Syndicates in Bulgaria (CISB) and Labor Confederation “Podkrepa” will fight against the introduction of the flat tax as the government plans, Trud Daily informs. If after all the new tax is introduced the syndicates will insist for nontaxable minimum of BGN 250 and a minimum wage of BGN 250. the proposition will be introduced to the Council of Ministers during the week.
Syndicates will also insist on preserving the 65 to 35 social security payments ratio. If the proposition is approved people with incomes between BGN 180 and BGN 460 will feel positive effects of the financial reforms. Otherwise 1,7 million people will suffer negative consequences caused by the flat tax.

EC approves program for improving honey, presented by Bulgaria

The European Commission has approved a program for improving the general terms for the production and trade of honey, presented by the Republic of Bulgaria. Its main goal is to raise efficiency of production, quality and competitiveness of Bulgarian honey and related products, as well as securing better employment and higher incomes of apiarists, the Ministry of Agriculture and Foods informed. The program will be applied in the whole country for a period of three years – from 2008 to 2010.

 

 

Patent tax to go to municipal budgets

The patent tax in Bulgaria will become a local tax. It will be collected by municipalities and included in their budgets, the Pari daily learned. Currently the patent tax is collected by the National Revenue Agency and transferred to the republican budget.
The patent tax is envisaged to be included in the scope of the Local Taxes and Rates Act, the executive director of the National Association of Municipalities, Ginka Chavdarova, said. However, she could not specify whether the change will become effective from 2008 or 2009. According to the constitution, the tax rate will be determined by municipal councils.The patent tax will not contribute substantially to the municipal budgets but its transfer to the local authorities will help strengthen their ties with small businesses, Chavdarova said. Annually, patent tax collections amount to some BGN 50 million.
The revocation of the patent tax and its replacement with an income tax for natural persons has also been suggested but the idea has been rejected by finance minister Plamen Oresharski. Small businesses will be affected even if a 10-percent flat rate is introduced instead of the patent tax, accountants commented. Currently the size of the tax depends on the town and the zone where the business is located. A vendor with a trade area of 4 sq. m currently pays BGN 80 a year in patent tax. If their monthly profit is BGN 1,000 - and no trader will work for less - the tax will rise to BGN 100 a month if a 10-percent flat tax is levied, Lilia Yatsino, owner of accounting firm Marni 2002, said.

EU-Backed Inspection finds genetically modified foods in Bulgaria

Inspectors have found that various genetically modified foods (GMFs) are sold on the Bulgarian market, , Chief Public Health Inspector Tencho Tenev told the media on Tuesday. In Bulgaria, as an EU member, state, it is legal to sell any GMFs if they are officially approved for sale in the bloc, Tenev said. Among such EU-approved products he listed some maize cultivars, soy and rapeseed, which are very rarely consumed unprocessed. The inspectors have detected locally produced or imported flour from genetically modified maize, popcorn, soy flour, sausages containing genetically modified soybean, and other soy-based products. In one case, the authorities prevened the import of 600 kg of rice from Italy.Theinspection started in December 200. It was conducted under a twinnin project supported by the EU with 2.8 million euro and co-financed by Sofia with 700,000 euro. Studies have not produced any hard evidence that GMFs are bad for people's health, but some scientists have warned that it is impossible to predict the long-term effect of such foods, Tenev said. The Health Ministry said in a press release that three Bulgarian organizations have asked for authorization to use the method of gamma irradiation to improve food quality. The practice was discontinued in 2002 due to changes in national legislation. Gamma irradiation is applied in over 50 countries, the Ministry said.

Ten bidders shortlisted in second subway line tender

Ten construction companies have filed documents for participation in the preliminary selection phase of the tender for building the second line of the Sofia underground transport. The local company Geotechnim has submitted a separate offer, while two other Bulgarian firms bid in cooperation with foreign companies. Sofia ’s municipal firm Metropoliten, which runs the subway transport system in the capital city Sofia , should appoint the final winner by December. The length of the line is estimated at 6.5km and will be serviced by 7 stations. Construction works are expected to start next year and to end up in 2011.

 

INVESTMENTS:

GEK Group to invest � 150m in projects in Bulgaria

Projects for more than EUR 150 million will be carried out by Greece's biggest construction holding, GEK Group, in Bulgaria in the next three years. The investments will be made by GEK's subsidiary, Icon, which is already working on ten projects in this country. Some EUR 60 million has been invested in land and construction so far.
One of Icon's biggest project is a holiday complex in Samokov. The company received a first-class investor certificate for the project, which is estimated at EUR 108 million. The complex will be built on 16 ha of land in the lower part of Super Borovets. The term for its completion depends on the development of the Super Borovets project, Icon said

Nokia invited to invest in Bulgaria

Part of the operations of Finnish hi-tech giant Nokia may be transferred to Bulgaria, economy and energy minister Petar Dimitrov has suggested to the management of the company. Dimitrov met on Monday with Paavo Vayrynen, Finland's minister for foreign trade and development. Large-scale Finnish IT companies are interested in investing in Bulgaria. Dimitrov has taken a commitment to co-operate and provide administrative and infrastructure support and land. Finnish companies are also interested in investing in renewable energy sources in Bulgaria, Dimitrov said. Some EUR 15 billion may be invested in energy projects in Bulgaria, according to estimates of the economy and energy ministry.

State hampers biofuel production

Biofuel production is attracting the attention of an increasing number of investors in Bulgaria. Germany's Verbio AG is already examining the possibility to invest EUR 100 million in the construction of a biofuel plant. There are about 30 companies operating in the field: 25 make biodiesel and 5, bioethanol.Such an investment can hardly be a risky venture. The use of biofuel will become obligatory according to the EU requirements. By 2020 each member state has to replace 10% of the fuel used with an environmentally-friendly alternative. From next year, all fuels used in transport have to contain 5% biofuel. The requirements make the investment in such production logical. Nevertheless, instead of encouraging investors, the state hampers them with unreasonable rules.One such example is the mechanism for providing European subsidies for growing energy crops. Before the subsidies are made available to farmers, processors have to pay guarantees that they will buy out the harvest. The amount to be paid is EUR 60 per hectare. That means that some EUR 3.4 million will be blocked as guarantees until 2008. That could be easily avoided if a list is approved of recognised producers, who will not have to pay guarantees, the chairman of the National Biofuels Association in Bulgaria, Dimitar Zamfirov, said. Businessmen also complain of the sluggish administration. For six weeks I have been unable to have my guarantees repaid by the payment agency in Pleven, the owner of STAR 7, Lachezar Vassilev, said.

Italy's Elco to build motor components factory in Krivodol

Italian company Elco S.p.A, a producer of small electric motors, will invest 4 mln euro in a factory for fine mechanical components in the town of Krivodol, in North-western Bulgaria, said town mayor Nikolai Ivanov. The Krivodol municipality and the Italian investor put pen to paper on Tuesday, September 4.The investor has bought a 3.6 ha municipal plot for the construction of the factory. The project will be implemented in three stages through 2010.Elco BG Property, the local subsidiary of the Italian investor, plans to moves it headquarter from Sofia to Krivodol where it will become eligible for tax breaks.Bulgaria law affords investors based in regions where the unemployment rate is higher than the nationwide average to retain 100% of due corporate tax.

Bulgarian tycoon to invest � 98 mln in new cold rolling mill

Bulgarian businessman Valentin Zahariev has announced plans for a large-scale investment in a new cold rolling mill on the outskirts of capital city Sofia.A complex comprising two units for cold-rolled steel coils and one for zinc-plated steel sheets will be constructed over the next three years on the site of the Zahariev-owned Inter Pipe steel pipes factory.The size of the investment in the new Inter Pipe mill, to be located in the vicinity of Kremikovtzi, Bulgaria's biggest steel maker, is seen at 93.8 mln euro, including 25 mln euro that will be provided by Zahariev's Intertrust Holding BG. Bulgarian and international lenders will also be involved in the financial packaging of the project.Inter Pipe, which is implementing the project, has won a First Class Investor certificate from the InvestBulgaria Agency, the local investment promotion authority. The government thus undertakes to facilitate the project not only in terms of the permits that will have to be obtained but also in the interaction with state-owned utilities for the purposes of the new substation, gas main and related infrastructure that will have to be put in place.The first two cold-rolled production units will be operational by the end of 2008. They will have an annual production capacity of 0.4 and 0.3 mln tons. The output will be marketed locally as well as in the rest of the EU and Turkey. The third Inter Pipe factory will produce 0.25 mln tons of zinc-plated steel sheets annually.

Raiffeisen tops ranking of investment intermediaries

 

Raiffeisenbank topped the ranking of investment intermediaries for August with BGN 4.05 billion turnover for the month. The figure may be put down to deals with the majority stake in the Bulgarian Telecommunications Company (BTC). Economic and Investment Bank (EIBank) ranked second with BGN 1.55 billion turnover, while Bulbrokers occupied the number three spot with a turnover of BGN 1.18 billion.
UniCredit Bulbank ranked fourth with BGN 79 million turnover, which is 15 times less compared to the third-ranked Bulbrokers, which topped the ranking in July with BGN 258 million turnover. First Financial Brokerage House rounded out the top five for August with BGN 67 million turnover.

GTM-Angel Balevski gets top-class certificate for EUR 147mn real estate project

The local company GTM-Angel Balevski, which has recently taken over the forklift producer Balkancar Sredets, will receive today a first class investment certificate for a real estate project valued at BGN 288mn (EUR 147.3mn). GTM-Angel Balevski has relocated the forklift production of Balkancar Sredets from its industrial site in the capital city of Sofia to the northern city of Lovech and will use the free land plot for construction of trade, office and home buildings. The project will include construction of a 180-metre building, which would be tallest in Sofia . Construction works should be completed in 2010.

 

COMPANIES:

 

Bulgaria maritime fleet bid deadline pushed back to Nov 8

The deadline for the submission of non-binding offers for the sale of a 70% stake in Bulgaria's national maritime fleet NMB has been extended to November 8, the nation's sell-off regulator said on Monday, September 3. The initial deadline - October 18, had to be extended in view of the substantial interest in the procedure on the part of potential bidders and the two-day holiday that will interrupt the submission period.The candidates wishing to advance in the procedure should certify before the Privatisation Agency their compliance with the prequalification criteria by September 24.The shortlisted candidates will be certified to participate in the procedure by October 19. The same deadline applies to the purchase of the information memorandum.A total of 23 candidates have bought the tender documents. one of them has since announced it is bowing out.In addition to a host of international outfits, local players like Varna-based business conglomerate TIM, the former Multigroup corporation and businessman Hristo Kovachki are also in the frame.

India's company pays BGN 1 million for Navibulgar

Ruias-owned Essar Shipping and Logistics (ESLL) is in the race to take over Bulgarian public sector shipping company Navigation Maritime Bulgare (Navibulgar). The 106-year-old Bulgarian company is valued at around $700 million, The Economic Times writes. The Cyprus-based company is India's only bidder in the tender, competing with twelve foreign and as many Bulgarian shipping companies. For Essar, the acquisition of Navibulgar will mean strengthening its operations in the Black Sea basin as the competition for oil tankers in the region gets heated up, the article reads further.

 

Audi to open new showroom in Sofia

 

Porsche Sofia Zapad will open on September 20 in Sofia a new dealership and a service complex for the Audi make, the company said. Investments in the new facility exceed EUR 7 million. The complex was built on a 21,590-sq. m plot and covers 5,377 sq. m of built-up area. The existing Audi dealership on Sofia's Nikola Vaptsarov boulevard will move to the new complex. Porsche BG invested BGN 15 million in 2006 in the setting up of a Volkswagen dealership.

 

Raiffeisenbank registers factoring company

 

Raiffeisenbank has set up a factoring company, the Bulgarian Stock Exchange said. The new entity was registered by decision of the Sofia city court of August 23. Raiffeisenbank (Bulgaria) is sole owner of the capital, which amounts to BGN 1 million. Raiffeisen Factoring is managed and represented by Nadezhda Mihaylova and Tsvetana Georgieva.Raiffeisenbank (Bulgaria) posted a BGN 43.4 million profit for the first half of 2007, its assets reached BGN 4.62 billion.

 

KTsM to process car batteries for lead production

 

The Balkans' biggest non-ferrous metal producer, Bulgarian KTsM, will put into operation a machine for processing of used car batteries in October. The equipment, which costs EUR 3 million, is manufactured by Italy's Enginetech and meets the European environmental requirements.The process produces no gas and dust emissions. We chose the machine because we saw it installed in Lausanne, Switzerland, right in the city, the CEO of KTsM 2000 Group, Nikola Dobrev, said.The company re-invested part of its profit and did not use loan financing for the purchase of the installation. By putting the machine into operation the Plovdiv-based metallurgical company will finish the first stage of its project for using 35 to 40% recycled metal in lead production.

 

Countdown for BTC begins

 

NEF Telecom Bulgaria, the subsidiary of AIG Global Investment Group, made a tender offer on Friday, suggesting to buy the shares of minority shareholders in the Bulgarian Telecommunications Company (BTC) at BGN 10.73 per unit. An announcement submitted to the Bulgarian Stock Exchange reads that NEF Telecom is the actual owner of 90% of BTC's capital. This is the first official statement made by BTC's owner about its plans to delist the telecom from the public register.BTC's shares cheapened by BGN 1.82 on Friday, reaching a price of BGN 10.80.

 

Enel defends position over sulphur dioxide pollution in bulgarian village

 

Italy's energy conglomerate Enel has expressed its position concerning the sulphur dioxide pollution in Bulgaria's village of Galabovo at a press conference on Monday saying the company's contribution to the environmental program is minimal."We are now developing an unique ecological program, whose value is set at EUR 160 M. It will make Maritsa East 3 the only power station in the country that is to operate entirely with sulphur purifying installations," said the Regional Manager of the company for Southeastern Europe Enrico Viale."Except Enel is one of the biggest energy investors in Bulgaria, it has launched many social and education initiatives in the region of Galabovo," Viale added.The Italian company has been recently accused by Galabovo authorities it has not managed to accomplish on time the conditions provided by the contract the two sides entered into about four years ago.Galabovo mayor has even banned the company's access to the asbestos depot in the village. Enel's executives however categorically declared the company is able to maintain it.The event was followed by another press conference given by Galabovo Mayor Nikolay Tonev and the Chairwoman of the local municipal council Dianka Panova.The two announced the municipality is to send a letter to the Italian media to ask how Enel is operating in the Mediterranean country.Mayor Tonev mentioned local experts established there are serious breaches concerning the safety of Maritsa East 3 and the region around it, emphasizing Enel made them.Both sides denied the rumours claiming the conflict is personal or politically based.
The Regional Environmental Inspectorate in the village of Galabovo registered levels of sulphur dioxide, which twice exceeded the allowed threshold. It occurred twice since the beginning of March.

 

 

 

Belvedere opens Svilengrad area wine cellar

The Bulgarian unit of French wine and spirits group Belvedere Monday unveiled its Katarzyna Estate wine chateau in Mezek, a village close to the Bulgarian-Greek border in the Svilengrad region.The 12 euro wine-producing property is surrounded by company-owned vineyards.Katarzyna Estate comprises 365 ha of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, shiraz, mavrud, ruby cabernet, chardonnay and sauvignon blanc vineyards and several experimental lots with malbec and tempranillo.The wine cellar has an annual processing capacity of 2,000 tons.The owner will aim to establish Katarzyna Estate as a stalwart producer of premium wines.In 2004, Belvedere Bulgaria started a vineyard-planting program financed by the company itself and by the EBRD and EU structural funds.Belvedere's Bulgarian arm owns the Sakar, Domaine Menada and Oriahovitsa wineries, as well as Vinimpex, the former Bulgarian wine export monopoly.

Microsoft customer center staff in Sofia reaches 100

The regional Microsoft contact center in Sofia, which opened in Jun, has increased to around a 100 the number of customer support operators. The center now provides customer support in all regional languages. Some of the incoming calls are still diverted to other outsourced centers but soon the whole range of support services will migrate to the Sofia center, said Petar Bankov, in charge of the Microsoft project. The U.S. company has hired Stream, a provider of B2B software services, to put together the local customer support unit.

U.S. PepsiAmericas buys 20% of Bulgarian bottler Agrima

A 20/80 joint venture of New York-listed PepsiAmericas and an unnamed partner has bought Bulgarian bottling company Agrima for an undisclosed sum, PepsiAmericas said on Tuesday. PepsiAmericas is the world's second-largest Pepsi bottler, while Agrima produces, sells and distributes PepsiCo branded products and other beverages throughout Bulgaria, a southeast European country of 7.7 million people. "This investment further demonstrates our commitment to expand and grow our international business in a disciplined way," PepsiAmericas Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Robert C. Pohlad said in a statement. "Agrima fits this strategy giving us a foothold in a growing economy with an emerging beverage market." The expansion into the EU newcomer marks the company's second European investment this year following the joint purchase of 80% of Ukrainian juice company Sandora last month."We are working with the same business partners we had in Romania to increase scale in this market. Additionally, we intend to increase our investment over time, with the first option in 2010." PepsiAmericas has entered into certain put/call arrangements with its joint venture partner that will result in PepsiAmericas owning 100 percent of the joint venture as early as 2012," the statement said.The Bulgarian anti-trust regulator in July allowed Cyprus-based Quadrant European Beverages to acquire a 99% stake in Agrima. The Bulgarian company bottles and sells in Bulgaria Pepsi Cola, Mirinda and Prisun soft drinks, and the Aqua Diva mineral water and distributes the energy drinks Red Bull and Guarana. The company also produces and sells the Strumsko Pivo beer. PepsiAmericas, which produces, distributes and markets a broad portfolio of Pepsi branded products and other national and regional brands, has operations in the U.S., Central Europe and the Caribbean.

 

ANALYSIS:

 

Bulgaria becomes financially stable, predictable - PM Says

Bulgaria has become a financially stable and predictable country capable of resisting outside economic crises, Prime Minister Sergey Stanishev said here on Friday while presenting his government’s mid-term report, according to the state-run BTA news agency.He said the country’s GDP grew by over 6% in 2005 and 2006, and 6.2% in the Q1 of 2007, mainly due to domestic consumption. The premier added that the country’s budget surplus for the H1 of 2007 is 20 billion Bulgarian leva ($14 billion), which, together with the increased corporation tax revenues, made it possible for the government to implement the largest pension increase this year - 20%. Meanwhile, the country’s industrial growth base has also expanded, making the sector becomes less susceptible to outside influences, said Stanishev.According to the Eurostat, the European Union’s statistics office, Bulgaria has registered a 14.6% year-on-year industrial growth, the highest in the European Union (EU), comparing with 12% for Slovakia, 10% for Slovenia, 7.8% for Poland, and 2.5% for average EU standard. The premier also mentioned foreign investment in his country, saying that foreign investments totaled �4.1 billion ($5.6 billion) in 2006 and topped �2.1 billion ($2.9 billion) in the H1 of 2007.With regard to unemployment, he said unemployment rate has steadily declined and has been under 8% for the last three months. At the end of July this year, unemployment rate stood at 7.25%, the lowest in 16 years. The prime minister also reported rises in the minimum wage, which stood at 150 leva ($104) in 2005 and is expected to reach 421 leva ($292) by the end of 2007. Meanwhile, the minimum pension grew by 49.1% in the last two years.

Brussels tightens its grip on Chinese imports

EU Commissioner for Competition Neelie Kroes arrived on an official visit to China several days after the Chinese imports’ quality row had erupted and reached its peak, Dnevnik daily reports in its latest edition. Though at first sight the formal ground for her visit was the adoption of country’s first ever competition protection law, it is clear enough Commissioner Kroes went there because of the recent brawl with the seizure of 18 million dangerous toys. Markos Kyprianou, EU Commissioner for Health, will also arrive in China to address the issue. These formal visits came after European Commissioner for Consumer Protection Meglena Kuneva’s stay there in July, when she called for more serious measures on manufacturers that export dangerous consumer goods. The international row erupted following reports for 100 people getting intoxicated to death in Panama because of incomplete or misleading info on the labels of a Chinese medicine. According to an agreement signed between China and the EU Beijing should present detailed reports every three months. The next one is due in October – a little before the meeting between European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and the Chinese PM. In the meantime, The German economy minister, Michael Glos, sent a letter to the German EU Commissioner in charge of industry, Gunter Verheugen, in which he requests him to make big toy manufacturers establish their own quality control systems.

 

 

Which companies posted highest H1 profit in Bulgaria?

 

The companies on the Bulgarian Stock Exchange have already submitted their H1 reports and most of them posted strong results. Profit.bg compiled a chart with the 20 companies that posted the greatest H1 profit in 2007. Bulgarian Telecommunications Company, which recently changed its owner, topped the chart with consolidated profit in the amount of 72.4 mln leva (37.017 mln euros). The new owner is planning to make a tender offer to the rest of shareholders and to delist the company from the public register.The Chimimport group posted profit in the amount of 60 mln leva (30.677 mln euros) and ranked second on our chart. The company is currently increasing capital from 130 mln leva (66.467 mln euros) to 150 mln leva (76.693 mln euros) via the issuance of 20 mln shares with an emission value of 11 leva each. CB Bulgarian-American Credit Bank ranks in the top 3 with 24.7 mln leva (12.628 mln euros) posted in H1, which is the highets profit of all four banks listed on BSE (the other three are also in top 20).
Next in the chart come Drujba Staklarski Zavodi AD, Sopharma AD, and First Investment Bank AD, all with earnings at around 20 mln leva (10.225 mln euros).
At the bottom of the list we find Sofia BT and Holding Patishta with less than 5 mln leva for the January – June 2007 period. The total amount of earnings of all companies in the top 20 reaches 348 mln leva (177.9 mln euros), and their total capitalization stands at 15 bln leva (7.670 mln euros). You can see the full chart below.The data is taken from the financial reports filed with the BSE, and the consolidated reports, if such were filed.

 

 

Company

H1 Profit (Mln BGN)

Price on Sept 3, 2007

Capitalization

1

Bulgarian Telecommunications Company AD

72,44

10,7

3089,78

2

Chimimport

60,4

14

1820

3

CB Bulgarian American Bank

24,69

82,23

1038,13

4

Drujba Staklarski Zavodi

20,93

135

903,09

5

Sopharma

20,01

7,6

1003,2

6

First Investment Bank

19,63

12,83

1411,3

7

CB Economic and Investment Bank

16,9

132,7

925,19

8

Blagoevgrad BT

15,41

67,61

182,72

9

Lead and Zinc Complex

14,31

79,29

667,1

10

Kaolin AD

12,88

15,32

383

11

Corporate Commercial Bank

11,14

87,69

526,14

12

CB Central Cooperative Bank

9,42

9,45

687,59

13

Neochim

7,85

75,6

200,67

14

Bulgarian Holding Company

6,96

4,27

28,11

15

Monbat AD

6,83

20,11

392,15

16

Orgachim AD

6,33

465,8

234,21

17

Eurohold Bulgraia

6,21

6,74

421,23

18

IH Bulgaria

6,02

13,51

354,69

19

Sofia BT

4,9

67,55

82,2

20

Holding Patishta

4,86

22527

389,27

 

Total

348,1

 

14739,78