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불가리아 주요 경제뉴스(14 – 21 SEPTEMBER 2007)

Mайка 2007. 9. 21. 17:43

BULGARIAN ECONOMIC TOP NEWS DIGEST

WEEKLY REPORT (14 – 21 SEPTEMBER 2007)

 

 

 

Sections/headline briefs:

 

 

MACROECONOMY:

 

·        Bulgaria and China develop trade union links

·        Bulgaria to privatise only municipal hospitals

·        Economy Minister: Bulgaria to see deflation in next months

·        Bulgaria breaks EU Inflation rate records

·        Commissioner Kuneva: It’s not true that inflation and food prices are dictated by the European market

·        Bulgarians pay 7.5 Billion levs taxes

·        Salaries in Bulgaria to rise by at least 25% in 2008

·        Bank liquidity concerns loom large in Bulgaria

·        Bulgaria's GDP up 6.6% in H2

·        Bulgaria adopts Euro earliest in 2012

·        Bulgaria enters Schengen in 4 years

·        Fund may help Bulgarian farmers with weather-related income losses

·        Finance Minister Oresharski takes part in informal meeting of ECOFIN

·        French and German companies interested in Nabucco Project

·        Bulgaria enters Schengen in 4 years

·        Bulgaria signs Bavaria

 

 

INVESTMENTS:

 

·        ENEL ready to invest � 1 billion in Bulgaria

·        Italy's Petrolvilla raises investment in Bulgarian hydroplants to � 72 M

·        Gardens Group to invest � 440 M in 5 housing projects in Bulgaria

·        Spain's Riofisa to invest � 183 М in Plovdiv

·        Arab billionare to construct towers and hotels in Bulgaria

·        Indian Infosys Technologies invited to invest in Bulgaria

·        Israeli investors to build complex near Lozen

·        � 700 M invested in Bulgaria`s Kavarna in 4 years

·        Englishmen build a complex worth � 200 M in Shkorpilovtsi

·        Carbon credits finance renewable energy project in Bulgaria

·        �125 million solar park to lie on 300 Ha

·        Bulgarian company Tandem invests � 2 M in organic beef farm

·        20 M invested in water supply net in Bulgaria`s Turgovishte municipality

·        Austrian foundation announces pair of � 400 М Sofia mixed-use schemes

·        Kronospan's investments top � 65m

·        New EU fund mulled for energy, roads

·        Dolna Bania area to have second golf resort

·        Romania PM urges Romanian firms to invest in Bulgaria

·        Sopharma with investor certificate

·        EVN to invest � 16.6mn in winter power grid upgrades

 

 

COMPANIES:

 

·        Public companies' profit to top BGN 1bn in 2007

·        10 companies to participate in Bulgarian electricity export auction

·        French, Czech companies to upgrade railway network

·        Indian companies in talks to buy hotels in Bulgaria

·        Orchid to build logistic park near Varna

·        Belgian firm to build logistic park near Plovdiv

·        Bulgarian EIBank to be sold to belgians and spaniards in a week

·        Bulgarian SIBank on sale

·        Companies from 48 countries to take part in Technical Fair in Bulgaria`s Plovdiv

·        Devin invests BGN 15 M in modernization

·        NEK is biggest winner at power export auction

 

 

ANALYSIS:

 

·        Bulgaria's attempts to become transport centre of SEEurope

·        Bulgaria is paradise only for foreigners

 

 

 

 

 

 

Articles:

 

 

MACROECONOMY:

 

Bulgaria and China develop trade union links

 

The top trade unions of China and seven East European countries, including Bulgaria, agreed on September 19 to step up co-operation and improve relations between their workers. "The All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU) are ready to increase exchanges with trade unions of east European countries, as one way to boosting ties," ACFTU President Wang Zhaoguo said in a meeting with trade union leaders from seven east European countries, as reported by China's People's daily online. Trade union leaders from Albania, Bulgaria, Hungaria, Montenegro, Poland, Romania and Serbia were in Beijing for a seminar sponsored by ACFTU on workers' legal rights. Wang, also vice chairman of the Standing Committee of the 10th National People's Congress, China's top legislature, said the trade unions should work together more closely to cope with the challenges posed by economic globalization. Danilo Popovic, president of the Confederation of Trade Unions of Montenegro, said on behalf of the seven countries' trade union leaders that their confederations would like to work with the ACFTU to better safeguard workers' rights. Formally set up on May 1, 1925, the ACFTU was the world's largest union in terms of membership, with 150 million members and 1.174 million branches by July 2006, China's People's daily reported.

 

Bulgaria to privatise only municipal hospitals

The latest draft of Bulgaria's national health strategy makes the first mention of unconditional privatisation of state-owned hospitals.The document, covering 2007-2013, greenlights the denationalisation of municipal hospitals conditional on the consent of the respective local government.The university hospitals, the big regional hospitals and the specialised health establishments will remain state property. They will be allowed to shed only non-core assets like disused land plots and buildings.The strategy proposed to set an annual budget for each hospital tailored to its type, bed capacity, equipment and medical staff. At the moment, each hospital is reimbursed on the basis of performed treatments and number of processed patients.The strategy in general promotes voluntary health insurance and states that the private health funds should cover dental plans and clinical paths, among other things.The document also aims to limit the opportunities for doctors to have both a private practice and a tenure at a state hospital. At the moment, doctors are allowed to have a contract with the National Health Insurance Institute and in addition clock up 4 hours of private practice. It is also planned to limit the number of patients per GP to 1,500.

Economy Minister: Bulgaria to see deflation in next months

 

Bulgaria's Economy and Energy Minister Petar Dimitrov forecast that the country is to see deflation in the next couple of months."There should be deflation so that the 5% inflation, set in this year's budget, can not be exceeded," explained the minister, who is in India as part of the Bulgarian delegation led by Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev.The difference between food's highest and lowest prices in the trade network in the country has been reduced due to the fact that the government started to inform consumers about the process, he said.Dimitrov was asked to comment Bulgarian National Statistical Institute's data that consumer prices rose by an average 7,5 % between December 2006 and August 2007 and by an average 12 % between August 2006 and August 2007.Consumer price inflation for August 2007 was 3,1 %, month-on-month. January-August 2007 inflation was 6,3 %, year-on-year, which is the highest inflation rate in Bulgaria over the past seven years.The Socialist-led government targeted an inflation of 4,4% for the year, edging closer to meeting the requirements to adopt the euro by 2010.But utility price hikes and the strong increase of food prices in July, when the consumer price index (CPI) rose by 2,2%, have dashed those hopes.In May, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecast end-year inflation to reach 4,5%, while the European Commission estimated the CPI to rise by 4,2%.

Bulgaria breaks EU Inflation rate records

According to Eurostat data, Bulgaria is the country with the second highest inflation rate in Europe. Unlike August 2006, Latvia has now taken the lead with its 10,2%. Next come Bulgaria (9,3%) and Hungary (7,1%). Malta, with an inflation rate of 0,5% is the last in the chart, preceded by Denmark and the Netherlands with their respective 0,9% and 1,1%. The 5,7 percent of average inflation for the past twelve-month once again place Bulgaria among the first three European countries with highest rate of inflation. The other two are Hungary and Latvia, both with a 7,7%.At a discussion on the currency board it transpired that ever since its introduction in Bulgaria the inflation has been downgraded by 100 times. In 1997 the inflation rate was 1000%. In 1998 it dropped to 11%. "During the 10 years following the introduction of the currency board, there were periods when prices would go up by 200%, and suddenly in the next decade this figure goes down to a 7,2%," Georgi Angelov, a representative of Open Society Foundation, points out.  

Commissioner Kuneva: It’s not true that inflation and food prices are dictated by the European market

'one of the strong motives of the government to curb inflation is that if we don’t keep it within the 3% limit, there is no way for us to enter the euro area. I talk about that in each of the countries I visit', Meglena Kuneva, European Commissioner for Consumer Protection told Nova TV. She added further that Bulgaria is in a common market with Europe from an economic point of view, it is affected by it, but is not part of the European Economic Area and there is no way for a direct price influence from the EU to occur. In her words it is not true that inflation and food prices are dictated by the European market.

Bulgarians pay 7.5 Billion levs taxes

By August 31, the National Revenue Agency collected 7.5 billion levs (1euro=1.95levs) taxes and social insurance premiums. only the revenues from VAT amount to 1.9 billion levs. Over the first eight months of the year, the collected taxes and social insurance premiums make 75,2% of the taxes and premiums, which are to be collected by the end of the year, whereas last August the collected taxes were sixty-five percent of those provided for the year."This tendency shows that more and more companies tend to go out of the gray sector," said Maria Murgina, Director of the National Revenue Agency.

Salaries in Bulgaria to rise by at least 25% in 2008

A letter promising a record salary increase has been sent to Bulgarian PM Sergey Stanishev by the foremost Bulgarian business association. The gesture was made in acknowledgement of the cabinet decision to cut down taxes and social insurances.
"We've already reached an agreement for the minimum insurance threshold to be increased by 25%," officials from the Bulgarian Industrial Association (BIA) explained to Mr. Stanishev.This will automatically bring about a rise in the higher wages.
"No employer would ever allow himself to raise the salary of an unqualified employee of his more than that of a qualified one." the BIA clarifies and infers that the average percentage of the increase might be even bigger."This increase will completely compensate for what the low-paid workers will lose as a result of the flat tax introduction," employers commented.According to the BIA, the real after-tax salary in Bulgaria has increased by 67,3% for the period 2000-2006.

Bank liquidity concerns loom large in Bulgaria

The are reasonable concerns that the liquidity crisis on the international interbank markets may have started to affect the Bulgarian financial system, money.bg said.
Several cases were registered on Friday when clients with forex accounts in Bulgarian commercial banks were unable to get access to their deposits. No bank names were mentioned. An individual asked to draw EUR 30,000 from his account but could not receive the full amount. The bank said it did not have enough European currency in cash.
This is an issue of commercial banks and we cannot interfere, the central bank said.
Another possible explanation of the problem is that the higher minimum reserves required to be held by commercial banks with the BNB from the beginning of September may have weakened the banking system.Our bank definitely has no such problems, the CEO of UniCredit Bulbank and head of the Association of Banks in Bulgaria, Levon Hampartsumyan, said. However, he declined to say if other banks are experiencing liquidity problems.

Bulgaria's GDP up 6.6% in H2

According to preliminary data released by the National Statistics Institute (NSI) Bulgaria's GDP in this year's Q2 stands at 12 980.4 mln leva, or 1,686 leva per capita, based on current prices.Bulgaria's GDP stands at 8.946 mln dollars, or 1,162 dollars per capita (at the average Q2 exchange rate of 1.450965 leva for 1 USD).Calculated in euros, GDP amounts to 6636.8 mln euros, or 862 euros per capita.According to the data, the country's GDP has climbed 6.6% versus 2006 Q2.Gross Value Added of the different sectors of economy stands at 10 751.9 mln leva, at current prices. If calculated according to prices in the respective period a year ago, Gross Value Added increases 8.7%.The industrial sector increases it relative share in the nation's economy from 33.2% in 2006 Q2 to 33.3% in Q2 this year, and its increase in the GVA stand at 10.5%.The relative share of the Services sector rose by 0.6 percentage points to 60.3% compared with 2006 Q2. The real GVA has added 9.5% year-on-year.The share of the Agriculture sector dips 0.7 percentage points from 7.1% in 2006 Q2 to 6.4% this year, which is a 5.3% decline in GVA.76.1% of the GDP in Q2 was used for individual consumption, which is 5.7% more than in the respective period a year ago.The export-import balance is negative. Import of goods and services exceeds export by 2 621.6 mln leva in value. Export of goods and services increased by 5.7% compared to 2006 Q2, while import rose by 10.7%.In the year's second half GDP's nominal value stands at 4473.8 mln leva, or 3,178.8 leva per capita, which is 16625.7 mln US dollars (at the average exchange rate of 1.472045 leva this year), or 2,159.45 dollars per capita.Second half GDP stand at 12513.2 mln euros, and 1,625.3 euros per capita.This year's H2 GDP has increased by 6.4% compared with H2 in 2006.GVA of the different sectors of economy stand at 20141.6 mln leva, which is 8.2% higher than last year's second half.The Industrial sector generates 33.4% of economy's GVA, which is a 9.1 increase of its share compared with 2006 H2.The sector of Services added 8.8%, although the sector's relative share slightly declined from 61.1 % in 2006 H1 to 61% in 2007 H1.The production activity of the agricultural sector declined 2.3% compared with 2006 H1, and the sector's relative share dropped 0.6%.

Bulgaria adopts Euro earliest in 2012

Bulgaria can adopt the Euro no sooner than 2012, said Ivo Prokopiev, Chairman of the Confederation of Employers and Industrialists in Bulgaria at the Ten Years of Currency Board forum. I will make this forecast to save the officials the necessity to answer the question, he said referring to Bulgaria's Minister of Finance Plamen Oresharski and the Governor of the Bulgarian National Bank, Ivan Iskrov. According to initial prognoses, the Euro was to be adopted in 2010, the postponement is due to the high inflation in Bulgaria.

Bulgaria enters Schengen in 4 years

Bulgaria and Romania will join the Schengen Agreement in 2011 at the earliest. The zone in which systematic border control was abolished in 1985, starts expanding on January 1, 2008, Die Presse reported. The interior ministers  of the 27 EU members have adopted a schedule for new countries' accession to the zone. The Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Malta will join the "15 old Schengen countries" in 2008.

Fund may help Bulgarian farmers with weather-related income losses

The local agricultural producers are lobbying the central government to set up a special fund that will compensate farmers for future drought losses, said representatives of the Bulgarian Agrarian Organisations Council.A total of 12 branch associations and unions are members of the council.The fund will make sure that the state aid reaches the affected farmers promptly and that it is made available to a bigger number of farmers, said the council.'The disinterest on the part of the state is frustrating and that is why we are searching for an alternative response system in case of another crisis like the current one,' said Ivailo Todorov, council chairman and chairman of the Association of Agricultural Producers. The initiative comes on the heels of the government's failure to quickly reimburse farmers affected by the summer drought.The aid has been approved but is yet to be paid out. Grain producers were allocated 350 levs/ha while barley producers were to get 300 levs/ha.The aid decision has not been promulgated in the Official Gazette which has halted the payment of the compensations, said deputy farming minister Dimitar Peichev. He could not say why the decision was not published in an emergency issue of the Official Gazette as is the case when priority government decisions have to be made public.The council is proposing that the government contribute 80% of the fund budget while the farmers come up with the balance. An additional resource could be raised from deductions from the interest income generated by long-term investment credits disbursed by the State Agriculture Fund, said Todorov. Peichev said he is ready to start negotiations on the launch of the proposed fund. The local insurance companies have dismissed the idea to contribute a portion of their premium revenues to the fund. At present, Bulgarian farmers have no access to any drought insurance programs.

Finance Minister Oresharski takes part in informal meeting of ECOFIN

Bulgarian Finance Minister Plamen Oresharski attended Saturday the informal meeting of the Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN) of the EU in Porto, Oresharski's Ministry said in a press release, cited by BTA news agency.On the agenda of the meeting were the situation on the financial markets, the likely effects of the possible further decline in the U.S. economy, and the financial stability of the EU.Bulgaria's position is that the possible drop in the U. S. economy will not have a tangible negative effect on the European economy.Bulgaria agrees and supports the presented analysis of the macroeconomic and financial situation in the EU. Bulgaria is of the opinion that the most likely scenario for the short-term development of macroeconomic conditions in the EU is quick normalization of the situation on the financial markets.Bulgaria supports the creation of permanent national groups for financial stability and will actively support the exchange of good practices between them.Bulgaria also supports the proposal for broadening the Memorandum of Understanding vis-a-vis crisis management and the inclusion of it and Romania in the document.

French and German companies interested in Nabucco Project

RWE of Germany and Gaz de France, two of Europe's biggest energy companies, are interested in taking a stake in the proposed Nabucco pipeline to bring gas from the Caspian region to the European Union, in a signal that progress on the long-mooted project is at last gaining momentum.A decision about accepting at least one extra member into the Nabucco consortium, led by OMV of Austria, is expected to be taken by the end of next month.The news comes as the government of Hungary, which is on the Nabucco route, expressed its support for the proposal, rejecting speculation that it had cooled towards the plan in favour of a Russian-backed alternative.The EU and the US see Nabucco as a vital project for providing Europe with an alternative source of gas supplies to Russia.Last week the EU appointed Jozias van Aartsen, the former Dutch foreign minister, to be the co-ordinator for energy network projects in south-eastern Europe, with a mission to deliver the Nabucco project.Hungary's position on Nabucco has been one of the most serious concerns hanging over the plan. In March, Ferenc Gyurcsany, the prime minister, alarmed the project's supporters by describing it as "a long dream", and sounding more positive about a rival plan by Gazprom to extend to Hungary and Austria the Bluestream pipeline, which runs from Russia to Turkey.At a Financial Times conference on Friday, however, Mr Gyurcsany said Hungary would "do its best to progress Nabucco", and said the only problem with the plan was that "its implementation has been too slow".RWE appears to be the company closest to joining the Nabucco consortium.Stefan Judisch, chief executive of RWE Gas Midstream, said his company was "aiming" to become the sixth member of the consortium, joining OMV, Hungary's Mol, BOTAS of Turkey, Bulgargaz of Bulgaria and Transgaz of Romania. He added: "Let's make Nabucco happen."He said RWE was willing to invest �1bn ($1.4bn) in exploration, development and infrastructure for gas in the Caspian region.RWE's German competitor Eon is a partner in Nord Stream, another proposed pipeline that would bring gas to Germany from Russia under the Baltic.Jean-Marie Dauger, the chief operating officer of Gaz de France, told the same conference that Nabucco was a "very interesting option" and said GdF was interested in joining the consortium.However, he said GdFwas concerned about whether there would be sufficient gas available to flow through Nabucco in order to justify the investment, which is estimated to be �5bn but is likely to rise. The contract for the beginning of the construction of the gas pipeline was signed on 25 June 2007 by the EU energy commissioner Andris Piebalgs and the ministers of energy of Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Austria.The overall price of the project is estimated at $ 5.8 bn. The pipeline's length will be 3 330km.The earliest possible date for the gas to start being supplied through the planned route is 2012. The gas will be supplied by Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Russia. The western part of the chief pipeline will pass through Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary to reach Austria.A southern branch, which to lead to Iraq, the Persian gulf countries and maybe Iran can also be included in the gas pipeline.Many countries lobbied for participation in the project. France's application was disputable because of controversies with Turkey about the Armenian genocide during the First World War.The Turkish would have enjoyed more the participation of Azerbaijan. The minister of energy of the Caucus country explained firmly to Reuters the advantages of the Azerbaijan's application. But the French prevailed.

Bulgaria enters Schengen in 4 years

Bulgaria and Romania will join the Schengen Agreement in 2011 at the earliest. The zone in which systematic border control was abolished in 1985, starts expanding on January 1, 2008, Die Presse reported. The interior ministers  of the 27 EU members have adopted a schedule for new countries' accession to the zone. The Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Malta will join the "15 old Schengen countries" in 2008.

Bulgaria signs Bavaria

Better information for businesses and more legal security for investors will be the result of a cooperation agreement, signed between MKB Unionbank and the German- Bulgarian Chambers of Commerce on September 17. In Sofia's Sheraton hotel the agreement was signed between MKB Unionbank's CEO Maria Ilieva, GBCC's vice president Ognyan Donev, and CEO of Sopharma pharmaceutical company.The focus of the agreement is to encourage the cooperation between Bulgaria and Germany's Bavaria province, Donev said. “More than 800 Bavarian companies have business relations with Bulgaria with half of them having offices in the country,”.In 2006 trade between Bulgaria and Bavaria has come to 605 million euro. “We are glad that MKB Unionbank is becoming “the German investors' bank” in Bulgaria,” Ilieva said. She noted that the agreement would help German investors to be more orientated in the legal framework in Bulgaria. As part of this, the two institution will organise a series of events to reveal the business potential of both Bulgaria and Bavaria.Such an event will be a meeting between Sofia municipality chief architect Petar Dikov with Bavaria businessmen on September 20 in Sofia. “Dikov would present several projects in Sofia suitable for investments,” Mitko Vassilev GBCC's chairman and Bavaria's representative in Bulgaria said.Germany will be the country in focus at the 63rd International Technical Fair in Plovdiv as well. The fair will take place from September 24 till September 29 and Germany will be the partner country.MKB Union bank is part of the German bank group Bayern LB.

 

INVESTMENTS:

 

ENEL ready to invest � 1 billion in Bulgaria

Representatives of Italian Energy group Enel announced that the company has prepared a project for the construction of a power plant in the coal complex Maritsa Iztok 3 worth one billion euro. The project concerns the construction of a 765 Megawatt power plant, Dnevnik daily reported. Enel representative told SeeNews that if the project would be approved the company would start construction works immediately and complete the project by 2012. Enel is the majority owner of Maritsa Iztok 3, holding 73 per cent of the company. The Bulgarian state owns 27 per cent. Bulgarian cabinet has not decided yet whether it would assign the construction project to Enel or launch a public tender for the new facility. A special commission with the participation of State Energy and Water Regulatory Commission (SEWRC), Energy and Economy Ministry and Maritsa Iztok 3 will have to take a decision by the end of September.

Italy's Petrolvilla raises investment in Bulgarian hydroplants to � 72 M

 

Italian energy group Petrolvilla has increased its planned investment in the construction of hydropower plants in Bulgaria to 72 million euro ($101 million) in order to buy more expensive equipment for the plants, Petrolvilla's Bulgarian subsidiary said on Thursday. Petrolvilla said last year it would invest a total of 44 million euro to build nine hydropower plants along the river Iskar, some 40 km north of the capital Sofia.The increase in investment to 72 million euro is linked to the introduction of the latest equipment in the nine plants that would raise productivity and reduce the negative impact on the environment," Vez Svoghe, a 90/10 joint venture between Petrolvilla and the Bulgarian town of Svoge, said in a statement.The combined installed capacity of the plants will be 25 megawatts, while the combined average annual electricity production will reach 142 million kilowatthours, the company said.Vez Svoghe launched the construction of the plants last October. It has said it would contract Bulgarian companies for their construction and leading international companies to supply the equipment.The nine hydropower plants are expected to become operational at the end of 2011, Vez Svoghe's general manager, Plamen Dilkov, told reporters earlier this week.The project financing will be secured through loans from Bulgaria's UniCredit Bulbank, part of Italy's UniCredit Group, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Petrolvilla will provide 30% of the planned investment from its own funds, the company has said.Hydro power plants account for 23% of the installed generation capacity of Bulgaria. The country's annual hydro power potential is estimated at an average of 26 billion kilowatthours, but no more than 57% of it, or 15 billion kilowatthours, can be used commercially.More than 20 small hydro power plants were built in Bulgaria between 2001 and 2004.

 

Gardens Group to invest � 440 M in 5 housing projects in Bulgaria

Gardens Group has announced plans to pump 440 mln euro into five residential developments in Bulgaria.Local subsidiary Bistritza Gardens Ltd. Thursday broke ground for the group's second residential compound of the same name estimated to cost 9.2 mln euro.The gated community is located in the center of Bistritsa, a village some 6 km from the capital Sofia.Each of the 52 houses in the compound occupies a plot of 408 to 700 sq m and has a built-up area of 226 to 375 sq m.The investor will provide round-the-clock security, property and technical maintenance. The price of the houses varies between 240,000 to 380,000 euro. Four have been sold and another six reserved.The construction works are farmed out to Lindner Bulgaria. Economic and Investment Bank, the project's financial partner, offers preferential mortgage terms to Bistritza Gardens property buyers.Bistritza Gardens Ltd. is 91%-owned by Virgin Island-registered Gardens Worldwide Holdings.The group has already completed the Sofia Gardens residential complex in the upscale Lozenets neighborhood at a cost of 7.2 mln euro.Gardens Group is currently awaiting zoning approval for its 15 ha Lozen Gardens compound in Sofia area village of the same name. The 22 mln euro complex will deliver 124 single-family houses.The group's biggest project in the works is Gardens City, a housing, office and retail scheme with a 60 ha footprint and an estimated cost of 400 mln euro.

Spain's Riofisa to invest � 183 М in Plovdiv

Spain's Riofisa will build a second mixed-type complex in the Trakia residential district in Plovdiv. The project, which amounts to EUR 183 million, was awarded a first-class investment certificate.The complex will be located on nearly 32,000 sq. m and will include a commercial centre, office space and a hotel section. The total built-up area will be about 171,000 sq. m. Construction works will begin in late 2007, the project has to be completed by 2010.The complex in Plovdiv is similar to our first investment, in Sofia, though it is smaller, A Riofisa official said. The project in Sofia is located in 85,000 sq. m near the central station in the capital city.

Arab billionare to construct towers and hotels in Bulgaria

Arab billionaire and nephew of the sheikh of the Sharjah emirate Tariq Bin Faisal Al Qassimi plans to invest in the construction of hotels and towers in Bulgaria.Al Qassimi is economy minister of Sharjah . He met Bulgarian Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev on September 15 in the United Arab Emirates, Standart daily reported.On his way back from a work visit to India, Stanishev's plane landed in Sharjah to refuel. Al Qassimi and Stanishev met in the airport's VIP hall.The sheikh's family owned seven-star hotels of the Palazzo Versace chain and 26-floor twin glass towers in Sidney and Dubai.Emirates Investments Group would be interested to invest in Europe. The company owned hotels and banks and businesses in the insurance and petrol industries, Standart daily said. It had already invested more than six billion dollars in Australia, Singapoure and Pakistan.The sheikh would invest in ski and sea tourism and in office buildings in Bulgaria. He would visit Bulgaria in October and meet Stanishev again.

Indian Infosys Technologies invited to invest in Bulgaria

Bulgarian Prime minister Sergei Stanishev invited the second biggest IT company in India – Infosys Technologies to invest in Bulgaria.The Infosys director Srinad Batani showed interest in the development of the telecommunications market in Bulgaria and in the percent of IT specialists who can speak English.Infosys is the the second biggest company in the information technologies sector in India and has branches in 14 European states. Exactly from there are 26 % of the company's revenues.The Executive director of the Bulgarian investment agency Stoyan Stalev presented the conditions for investing in Bulgaria and the economic indicators of the country.Later today Sergei Stanishev and the business delegation, which accompanies the prime minister, will visit a wind-energy producing company in the south Indian town of Chennai.

Israeli investors to build complex near Lozen

A complex with residential buildings, offices, commercial and sports centres will be built near Sofia in the next few years. Gardens City will be located on 60 ha of land near the Trakia motorway at the village of Lozen. Investor in the project is Movako, a venture of Israeli companies and Dutch Barclays Real Estate Holdings. The investment will exceed EUR 400 million.This will be the first such project to be developed near Sofia, though analysts have been predicting the emergence of satellite villages for quite a long time. The complex will also be unique in terms of scale: it will include more than 2,000 apartments and 240 houses, over 10 ha will be made into parks and gardens. The company has already bought the necessary land but the administrative procedures will take a year or so more. The implementation of the project is expected to take between five and seven years. The construction will be financed with bank loans and sales receipts, which are expected to amount to nearly EUR 600 million.

� 700 M invested in Bulgaria`s Kavarna in 4 years

Bulgarian municipality of Kavarna has become an attractive centre for Bulgarian and foreign investors in the past four years with investments totalling 700 million, a municipal budget of 28.2 million leva and drop of unemployment to the record seven per cent.The infrastructure of 60 per cent of the town has been renovated, Focus news agency reported.Investors from 12 countries invested in the tourism and light industry. More than ten apartment complexes, vacation villages, three-star, four-star and five-star hotels, a golf complex and a golf course were in the process of construction.Investor interest in building alternative energy facilities increased. For the renovation of the water supply net along the coast 2.6 million leva was invested. In September Kavarna would take into use the renovated water purification station, the repair of which had a price tag 1.5 million leva. Kavarna municipality invested 13.3 million leva in road renovation with a total area of 332 000 sq m.

Englishmen build a complex worth � 200 M in Shkorpilovtsi

The Bulgarian-English Shkorpos venture will invest some � 200 million in a holiday complex in the seaside Bulgarian resort of Shkorpilovtsi. The new Eden Sands village will be built over 9.4 ha. The hotels and residential buildings of Mediterranean style will spread over a total of 130,000 square meters. They will be constructed in the place of the Horizont (Horizon) camp site which was closed 15 years ago. The first stage of the construction works will be finished by the next summer.

Carbon credits finance renewable energy project in Bulgaria

The EBRD, through its Netherlands Emissions Reduction Co-operation Fund, is purchasing carbon credits from a hydro power project in Bulgaria that will help significantly reduce Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions, the lender said in a press release on Tuesday, September 18.The project envisages the establishment of nine small hydro power plants along the river Iskar, about 40 km north of Sofia, with the aim to cut 336,462 tons of CO2 by replacing electricity generated by fossil fuels with hydro power electricity, a renewable, zero-emission source of energy.The hydro plants will be built, owned and operated by Vez Svoge, a company 90%-owned by a subsidiary of Petrolvilla&Bortolotti, an Italian provider of energy and energy-related services, and 10% by the municipality of Svoge.The carbon credit sale is in accordance with the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.The GHG emission reductions will be verified by an independent entity to ensure that the emission reductions claimed have actually been realised. The government of Bulgaria will then transfer these credits to the account of the Netherlands.To date, the EBRD, on behalf of the Dutch Fund, has signed three carbon credit projects in Bulgaria, which are expected to generate 1.7 mln carbon credits.These projects include the switch to biomass energy at the Paper Factory Stambolijski, an energy efficiency investment program at Svilocell and a portfolio of energy efficiency and renewable energy projects with bank UBB.The EBRD is the largest investor in Bulgaria with more than 1.3 bln euro committed to projects across the country. Working with its many partners, the bank has mobilised more than 5.4 bln euro for projects in Bulgaria, said the press release.

�125 million solar park to lie on 300 Ha

Sofia firm ‘United Realty' will invest 250 million BGN (125 million EUR) in the constructions of first solar park for electricity production in Pashovo village (Svilengrad municipality, Rhodope mountain), informed from money.bg.The solar park will be situated over 3,000 decares. The land was bought on auction for 457,211 BGN (230,000 EUR).The project includes the building of 10 solar plants with common power of 50 MW. The constructions will be complete by Bulgarian-Austrian association ‘Solar-Hold'.The first plant is expected to start to function in March 2008, and the last one in 2010. Investors intent to hire at least 50 people and also to build the local infrastructure.According to specialist the region of Svilengrad is with the biggest sun shining in Bulgaria, which guarantee short-term return of the invested funds.

 

Bulgarian company Tandem invests � 2 M in organic beef farm

Tandem, the Bulgarian producer of meat products, said it is investing 2 mln euro in an organic beef farm near the village of Damianovo, in the Gabrovo region.The project will be implemented by Tandem subsidiary Biologica. The farm should be operational by the end of 2007.The company has already stocked the 110 ha Damianovo farm with 280 cows and calves from a premium meat-producing breed. The farm has 250 ha of pastures for free-range grazing that have not been treated with any chemical pesticides or fertilisers.The Tandem project is advised by Bioselena, a foundation accredited by the Bulgarian farming ministry to certify organic agriculture businesses.Tandem will aim to place the nation's first free-range grazed beef on the store shelves by 2009.

20 M invested in water supply net in Bulgaria`s Turgovishte municipality

A total of 17 villages in the Turgovishe municipality, villa zones and the town of Turgovishte received 20 million euro in funding for the renovation of their water supply net.The water supply company in Turgovishte would receive eight million euro from the World Bank (WB) in the spring of 2008, one million euro of which would be used for the replacement of 12 km of the old water-mains in the town of Omourtag, investor.bg said.
The remaining seven million would be used for the construction of a water supply net from the Ticha dam and the pumping station of Veliki Preslav to 17 villages in the Turgovishte municipality.The WB loan would insure permanent drinkable water for five villa zones near Turgovishte.Bulgarian Parliament was expected to ratify the WB loan in December 2007, investor.bg said.The Regional Development and Public Works Ministry would divide the money between six water supply companies. The deadline for utilisation of the the funds was three years.Turgovishte municipality would receive another 15 million leva from the European cohesion fund. A Belgian consultancy company has prepared projects to change 90 per cent of the entire water supply net in Turgovishte.

Austrian foundation announces pair of � 400 М Sofia mixed-use schemes

Austrian foundation Togewa has announced plans to invest a total of 400 mln euro in the construction of two mixed-use retail and office centers on the outskirts of Bulgarian capital Sofia.The Eurogate project, certified as First Class by the local investment promotion authority, is expected to be recouped within a decade of its completion.The first complex should be completed by the end of 2009 at a cost of 250 mln levs.It will be sited on a 60 ha footprint on the southern arc of the Sofia ring road. In addition to retail and office premises, the complex will deliver hotel, entertainment venues and 10,584 parking spaces.The second complex will be identical and will be located on the exit for the Belgrade-bound expressway. The investor has already purchased 100 ha of land for this phase of the project.Upon completion, the centers will employ around 3,000 staff.

Kronospan's investments top � 65m

More than EUR 65 million have been invested in the Bourgas-based wood processing plant Kronospan, it emerged at the celebration of the 10th anniversary since Austrian company set foot on the local market. Austria's Kronospan has 28 plants in 24 countries and is a leader on the European market for chipboard products.Kronospan is the sole producer of products from oriented strand boards (OSB). The Bourgas plant manufactures 300,000 sq. m of Melamine Faced Chipboard and OSB, as well as 6.3 million sq. m of laminated MDF annually. All products are certified under the EU standards.Kronospan has invested more than BGN 1.5 million in environmental protection programmes over the last 18 months and continues to search for solutions to reduce dust emissions. The investment projects of the company in 2007 are aimed at improving quality and expanding output.

New EU fund mulled for energy, roads

Establishing a new investment fund of the European Union, Good Neighbourliness, was discussed by external relations commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner and Bulgarian prime minister Sergey Stanishev at a meeting in Sofia on Monday. The aim of the fund is to provide additional financing for joint infrastructural and energy projects with the Mediterranean countries and EU's eastern neighbours. The fund will partner with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the European Investment Bank.
Bulgaria is a highly valued member of the Black Sea synergy initiative, Benita Ferrero-Waldner said. In her words, Sofia could be useful to the EU with its experience in regional cooperation, more specifically in the relations with Turkey, Russia, Ukraine and Georgia.

 

 

 

 

Dolna Bania area to have second golf resort

Bulgarian company Golf Club Ibar said it plans to add a second golf resort to one it is already operating near the town of Dolna Bania, in the Sofia region.The project, with a cost of around 75 mln levs, was presented Tuesday by Golf Club Ibar co-manager Ilia Lazarov and Paul Stringer, senior vice president of business development for Nicklaus Design, to the local investment promotion authority.The golf resorts are developed in partnership with the Dolna Bania municipality which owns a third of the project company.In early 2006, the first Golf Club Ibar project was awarded a First Class Investor certificate by the InvestBulgaria Agency.It was announced at the time that the 160 ha complex, consisting of a golf course, 550 villas and a spa center, should welcomes its first guests in 2008.

Romania PM urges Romanian firms to invest in Bulgaria

Romanian Prime Minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu urged on Wednesday Romanian firms to invest more heavily in Bulgaria, during a working visit to Sofia."Romanian firms are beginning to reach the dimension that allows them to become important players in the region, not just domestically," Tariceanu told reporters at the opening of a Mobexpert store in the Bulgarian capital."I wish more Romanian firms would follow the example of [furniture chain] Mobexpert and [oil company] Rompetrol and invest in Bulgaria," he added.Total Romanian investment in Bulgaria totals just EUR 75 M, including EUR 10 M by Mobexpert for its first furniture store south of the Danube.Tariceanu is in Sofia for a working visit and is scheduled to meet with his Bulgarian counterpart Sergey Stanishev later in the day.

Sopharma with investor certificate

Ognyan Donev, executive director of Sopharma, received a first-class investor certificate by InvestBulgaria Agency. The certificate was awarded for the company's new high-tech tablet plant, which should be completed by September 2009. The project is estimated at BGN 73 million. The stock of the company appreciated by 0.4% to BGN 7.48 per share on Tuesday after the news was broken. A total of 18,850 shares in the company changed hands on the day. Sopharma also made into Pari daily's Top 50 ranking of the public companies for the first half of 2007. The company occupied the number 16 spot in terms of revenue and the ranked 7th in terms of market capitalisation.

EVN to invest � 16.6mn in winter power grid upgrades

 

The two power distribution groups in south-eastern Bulgaria , which are controlled by the Austrian energy company EVN, announced plans to invest BGN 32.4mn (EUR 16.6mn) in network upgrades for the winter season. EVN Bulgaria has started examinations of the network to identify risk areas. Two months ago, energy commission chief Konstantin Shushulov stated that the three electricity distribution groups in the country have completed 30% of their investment programmes. EVN has announced plans to invest BGN 118mn this year.

 

 

 

COMPANIES:

 

 

Public companies' profit to top BGN 1bn in 2007

 

The rapid development of the capital market in Bulgaria has encouraged the Pari daily to prepare a semi-annual ranking of public companies, in addition to the annual ranking based on companies' year-end results. The most impressive fact observed is that Bulgarian public companies improve their performance very quickly and many of them have already exceeded the initial forecasts. That necessitates additional information to help small investors and facilitate the analysis of the results and growth potential of companies.The Bulgarian Telecommunications Company (BTC) lost its first place in revenue for the first half of 2007, Pari's ranking shows. Nevertheless, the telecom posted the biggest profit, contributing BGN 138.84 million to the total result of all public companies. That makes about a quarter of the financial result of listed companies, which stood at BGN 528.4 million at the end of June. For the whole year 2006 public companies' profit totalled BGN 517.1 million. That makes it very likely that until the end of 2007 their profit will top BGN 1 billion.Companies' first-half sales also rose substantially, reaching the impressive BGN 4.76 billion. For the year-ago period, sales amounted to just BGN 2.27 billion.One of the main reasons for the market book is the debut of public companies. For the first six months alone two big banks became public entities and found their way into Pari's ranking. First Investment Bank is 11th in sales and Corporate Commercial Bank is 30th.The ranking is topped by Kremikovtzi, which reported an increase in sales revenue of more than 50%. However, the metallurgical plant remains the biggest loss-maker on the Bulgarian Stock Exchange.

 

10 companies to participate in Bulgarian electricity export auction

A total of ten companies have qualified to participate in the September 18 auction for allocation of electricity export capacities from Bulgaria to a neighboring country, said Electricity System Operator (ESO), a subsidiary of national power grid operator NEK. All candidates are licensed power traders. The relevant paperwork has been submitted by CEZ Trade, Arcadia Service, Energy Finance Group, EFT Bulgaria, Maritsa Iztok 3 thermal power station, Enemona Utilities, Vivid Power, Energy Partners and Energy Market.This is the first local openly competitive auction for electricity capacities.According to the ESO website, 200MW of electricity will be transmitted to Macedonia and as much to Romania by the end of September and October.

French, Czech companies to upgrade railway network

 

A consortium led by France's Sistra will provide technical assistance and infrastructure rehabilitation of the Mezdra - Gorna Oryahovitsa railway line. The contract was signed by Bulgarian deputy transport minister Vessela Gospodinova on Wednesday. The consortium also includes Czech Sudop Praha, Spain's Getinsa and Bulgaria's Trans El Engineering and Vector-Bul.Sudop Praha and Trans El Engineering will carry out another project, too: technical assistance and rehabilitation of the railway infrastructure from Plovdiv to Bourgas. This contract was also initialled on Wednesday.The maximum value of the two projects amounts to EUR 10.480 million. As much as 85% of the financing is provided under the ISPA programme, another 15% is allocated by the national budget. The first project, which has to be completed in December 2008, will be funded with EUR 2.980 million. The second project will receive EUR 5.460 million and will be finalised by October 2008.

 

Indian companies in talks to buy hotels in Bulgaria

Two Indian corporations are in negotiations to acquire hotel properties in Bulgaria, said Poli Karastoianova, executive director of the National Tourism Board. She did not name the companies, saying that more details will be available after the deals are finalised over the next couple of months. The Indian companies are interested in 4- and 5-star hotels in local sea and mountain resorts. one of the foreign companies is poised to acquire a Bulgarian tour operator that owns 5 hotels while the second one is eyeing hotel assets managed by local hotel chains, said Karastoianova.

Orchid to build logistic park near Varna

Orchid Developments Group is planning the construction of a logistic park near Varna, a notice to the London Stock Exchange reads. The investment fund has closed an agreement to buy a 23-ha plot near the Bulgarian coastal city. This will be the second such project in Varna after the park of Fair Play International and Bulgarian Property Developments.Orchid is currently working on a big shopping and amusement centre, Grand Mall, in Varna. It already has agreements with key tenants, including France's Carrefour. The fund also has a permit to build a business centre, Orchid Business Centre Varna, which will be located near the airport. Construction works are expected to begin by this year's end.The fund's biggest residential project is the Orchid Hills Varna complex. More than 50% of the apartments have been sold off-plan for EUR 3.7 million. Orchid also plans to build a mixed complex, Varna Gardens, in downtown Varna.

 

Belgian firm to build logistic park near Plovdiv

 

Belgium's Immo Industry Group (IIG) plans to build a logistic park on 15 ha of land near the village of Skutare, Plovdiv region. The company has bought the necessary plot, construction works will begin in a couple of months, Forton International's director, Sergey Koynov, said.This will be one of the first complexes carried out by IIG in Bulgaria, which is specialised in industrial projects. The Belgian company operates in 15 European countries.The logistic park will be located in the Maritsa industrial zone. It will have 60,000 sq. m of warehouse and office space, part of which will be leased to tenants.

Bulgarian EIBank to be sold to belgians and spaniards in a week

Bulgaria's Economic and Investment Bank (EIBank) is in talks with two European bidders to sell a majority stake, sources familiar with the process said on Tuesday. The report of the bank sale lifted its shares on the Bulgarian Stock Exchange by 11.5 percent, traders said.Spain's largest unlisted savings bank, La Caixa, and Belgian banking and insurance group KBC have placed bids for the country's ninth largest bank in terms of assets, one source who asked for anonymity told Reuters."La Caixa and KBC have placed their bids. Talks are now being held. The winner is likely to be chosen this or next week," the source said.Another source familiar with the talks said the strategic investor could be picked as early as Wednesday.A spokesman at EIBank declined to comment.The sources declined to comment on the amount of the deal.The bank's shares closed at 145 levs per share on Tuesday, up from 130 levs a day earlier in a thin trade, bringing its market capitalisation to 1.0 billion levs ($708.7 million). Icelandic billionaire Thor Bjorgolfsson has 48.6 percent in the bank through Novator Finance Bulgaria, and two Bulgarians have 24.3 percent each. The remaining 2.8 percent is floated at the Bulgarian stock exchange.EIBank's total assets stood at 1.4 billion levs ($992.9 million) at the end of June, official data showed. Its net profit dropped to 16.9 million levs in the first half of the year, from 21.3 million in the same period a year earlier.

Bulgarian SIBank on sale

Bulgarian SIBank is in negotiations with two European candidates interested in buying a majority share.The results of these negotiations could be announced before the end of the month, Za Grada said.Candidates are the KBC Bank from Belgium, which has already bought insurance company DZI, and La Caixa, the largest private bank in Spain. This announced Dnevnik daily, citing Reuters. The agency quoted a source close to the process who requested anonymity.Caixa and KBC have both made offers to buy shares in the ninth largest Bulgarian bank. “At this moment the offers are examined and a choice would most likely be made before the end of the month,” the anonymous source said.A different source told Reuters that the decision might be taken as early as September 19 2007.A spokesperson for SIBank refused to comment. Reuters' sources did not mention the value of the offers.According to Reuters, the market capitalisation of SIBank is 930 million leva.The news caused SIBank shares to rise in price with 5.89 per cent to a record level of 145 leva on September 18.

Companies from 48 countries to take part in Technical Fair in Bulgaria`s Plovdiv

 

The 2007 International Technical Fair in Plovdiv to take place from September 24 to 29, and will be attended by 3659 exhibitors from 48 countries. There would be 1340 Bulgarian participants, Dnevnik daily reported. The number of foreign participants has increased six per cent compared to 2007. The growth of the number of participants compared to 2006 is three per cent. The fair would have to open halls 22 and 23 for the first time in 15 years due to the large number of participants this year. Head of Plovdiv Fair Ivan Sokolov said that the reconstruction of the presentation areas and the fair complex cost six million leva. Entrance tickets for the exhibition would cost six leva. Partner of the international fair is the region in Europe including the provinces of Saarland and Rheinland-Pfalz, Lotharingia, Luxembourg and Belgian province of Wallonia. Partner country of the exhibition is Germany. The fair would focus on the mechanisms for European fund utilisation.

Devin invests BGN 15 M in modernization

Bottling company Devin plans to invest some 15 mln leva (7.670 mln euros) in modernization of facilities and machine park, CEO Tsvetan Lajanski said at the company's presentation on Bulgarian Stock Exchange. The return on the investment is expected within 5 years.The company intends to spend 13 mln leva (6.646 mln euros) on new machines, and to use the remaining 2 mln on improvement of its buildings. 80% of the funds will be provided through bank loans and leasing contracts.Devin has already signed a contract for the delivery of new Krones machines. The modernization of equipment will boost production capacity to 42 bottles per hour, Lajanski also said.Devin is currently in the process of negotiating that would help the company's expansion on the market of soft drinks in Bulgaria's neighboring countries. The company recently raised some 18.3 mln leva (9.356 mln euros) in an IPO, of which 6 mln leva will be invested in acquisitions, 10 mln leva (5.112 mln euros) were used to service bank loans, and the rest will be used to pay the first installment on the new machines.Devin also intends to enter the markets of Romania and Greece and is currently negotiating with local distributors. In Bulgaria the company holds 31% of the market, Mr. Lajanski pointed out.The company's EBIDTA stands at 7.5 mln leva (3.834 mln euros) according to latest data, this is 600-700,000 more than what we projected, Lajenski also said. Non-consolidated sales for the period January-August stand at 37.638 mln leva (19.244 mln euros).Devin completed an IPO in July. The company issued 3 mln new shares, which were all placed together with 225,000 already existing shares offered by major shareholder. The price was 6.10 leva/share.The stock rocketed 21.97% to an average of 7.44 leva in early trade today. 391,925 shares have changed hands in 473 transactions so far today.“I hope that Devin will find its place on the official market of equities and within the bourse indices,” Lajanski laso said.29 new public companies have been listed this year. 6 of them filed IPOs. The number of new real estate investment trusts (REITs) is 15. BSE's market capitalization currently stands at 27.052 bln leva (13.831 mln euros), which is more than 50% of the nation's GDP.

NEK is biggest winner at power export auction

Bulgaria's national power grid operator NEK, whose electricity export monopoly expired at the beginning of 2007, won the bulk of the export volumes tendered by its subsidiary company Electricity System Operator (ESO). According to information released by ESO, NEK won 60 of the 100MW on offer for export next month to Romania, Dnevnik reported.The remainder was allocated to CEZ Trade. NEK will also export 180 of the 200MW that were on offer for Serbia and 85 of the 100MW on offer for Greece. Vivid Power, Arcadia Service and Enemona Utilities were also allocated token volumes for export to Greece. EFT Bulgaria and CEZ Trade will import electricity from Romania.

 

ANALYSIS:

 

Bulgaria's attempts to become transport centre of SEEurope

Author: Oxford Business Group

The recent signing of major contracts for railway infrastructure upgrade programmes is a key step in Bulgaria's plans to be a transport hub for Southeastern Europe. The combination of the experience of private European companies and EU funds will help the country overhaul its outdated freight system and allow it to maximise its international links with neighbouring countries.On September 5 the transport ministry struck a 162.5m euro deal with Astaldi, in which the Italian company will construct rail and electricity infrastructure on a 114km stretch between Plovdiv and Svilengrad, which is near the Greek and Turkish borders.In a separate deal, Austrian firm Thales Rail Signalling and French firm Alcatel Lucent will provide signalling and telecommunications infrastructure to the same stretch of rail in a contract worth 35.6m euros. When the project is completed, in an estimated 39 months, the line will be capable of taking trains travelling at 160km per hour.Anton Ginev, general director of the National Railway Infrastructure Company (NRIC), told OBG that work on the line was "essential" to enhance the country's transportation system and would provide important service efficiency and reliability improvements by converting a diesel single-track part of the network to electrified service for passengers and freight.The NRIC is involved in several initiatives to upgrade the nation's rail infrastructure to help improve capacity, international linkages and bring the rail network up to par with EU standards for freight and passenger rail transport. A consortium lead by Spanish firm Iberinsa has signed a 3.35m-euro contract to provide technical support for the modernisation of the route from Vidin, on the southern bank of the Danube in northwestern Bulgaria, to Sofia.Finalised geographical surveys are expected for the Danube Bridge II that links Vidin to the Romanian town of Calafat in September. The bridge will provide road and rail connections between Bulgaria and Romania at a cost of 236m euros. Other stretches to receive attention include the lines between Plovdiv and Burgas, Mezdra and Gorna Oryahovitsa and Sofia and Plovdiv.
The Bulgarian rail network is long due an overhaul. In the past decade only 790km of the country's 4316km of primary track has been upgraded and much of the power generation and signalling infrastructure is obsolete, meaning that trains are limited to speeds of 100km per hour on most lines. Usage of the country's rail network has dropped markedly since the early 1990s. In 1990 63.25m tonnes of freight was carried by rail. By 2006 this figure was 21.18m, up 900,000 tonnes on the previous year's figure.The Plovdiv - Svilengrad overhaul is expected to cost 340m euros, of which only 37m euros will come from the state coffers, 150m euros in the form of a loan from the European Investment Bank and the remaining 153m euros from the EU's Instrument for Structural Policies for Pre-Accession programme, which focuses on infrastructure. In addition, the NRIC is looking to sell non-crucial assets in order to raise revenues. In the first week of September, the Plovdiv and Pomorie stations were sold off for 7m euros and 11m euros respectively.Ginev said the sale of Pomorie station, which the NRIC owned, would provide resources for debt liquidation of the company. He said he expected "other unprofitable stations and railway infrastructure properties" would be sold that by the end of the year, providing an additional $44m.Bulgarian State Railways (BDZ), the national carrier, announced in September that it would place a 120m euro, 10-year private bond issue aimed at attracting Bulgarian and foreign investors."A proportion of the money will go towards covering existing debts but the main focus is the overhaul of 1200 freight wagons in the BDZ fleet," Christina Belevelva, public relations manager for BDZ, told OBG. "Since last year we have seen strong growth in demand for rail freight services from Bulgarian businesses and the current fleet is outdated and insufficient."Competitors will increasingly meet this rise in demand. As of the first of this year, the Bulgarian freight sector has been open to private competition and in August the first private operator, Bulmarket, announced it had purchased five Siemens electric locomotives from Danish State Railways. The liberalisation of passenger operations to private carriers is planned for 2010.Bulgaria is looking to take advantage of its position as the eastern-most point of the EU to become a vital link for freight heading between Western and Central Europe and Asia.Construction of a 25.9m euro intermodal freight terminal in Sofia bringing together road, rail and air transport is expected to begin before the end of the year.There are plans for similar logistics centres in Plovdiv, Ruse and the port of Burgas. In a country where 700 cars are registered by authorities every day and news of severe traffic accidents are rarely out of the headlines, the development of a strong rail network can take the strain from the increasingly congested road network.Ginev told OBG that Bulgaria is the only European country where five of the ten Trans-European Transport Corridors (Corridors IV, VII, VIII, IX and X) pass. With that in mind, the country's potential to become a major transport leader in Southeast Europe and a future EU transportation hub can be assumed to be "very high."

Bulgaria is paradise only for foreigners

Author: Konstantin Subchev, standartnews.com

According to the text of the Bulgarian National Anthem, our country is a paradise on the earth. This summer it became clear that Bulgaria is really a paradise, but only for the tourists from the cold northern countries. In addition to sunny days and attractive seaside resorts, we also have tons of alcohol, flowing freely the whole night, even in the mouths of teenagers and minors. Moreover, you can also get laid, according to your sexual preferences, at a more than affordable price. In the end, the tour operator may even fully refund you, if you complain, say, of a leaking flushing cistern in your hotel bathroom.
Bulgaria is also a tempting place for the unemployed from Western Europe, who can enjoy a life of wealthy men in some Bulgarian village with a monthly welfare benefit of only 570 euro. But Bulgaria is also a lucrative destination for people from the East - the Promised Land for every Asian or African person, who has named himself a businessmen or a refugee. And after some time this fellow is granted a Bulgarian, i.e. a EU passport.
For the Bulgarians, however, Bulgaria is located somehow to the east of the Garden of Eden, just like the title of Steinbeck's book says.In "Eden", for example, fish is more expensive than pork, but in Bulgaria it is just the other way around; in Eden there are strict taxation rules, whereas in Bulgaria it often happens so that you pay one and the same tax twice; in Eden, the corrupt state officials are happy if they get away with only a dismissal, in Bulgaria there is a bribe-giving pricelist, but there are no corrupt state officials.This is why, the Garden of Eden spreads westwards from Trieste and Vienna, where the prices are really dictated by the market, where one knows how much he earns and how much taxes he has to pay, where if you buy bionic food it is really bionic, and where there is a difference between a businessman and a would-be businessman.
This is why the words of the Bulgarian National Anthem that our country is the paradise in the world sound more and more ironic each year, and more and more young people choose to buy a one-way ticket to the West.