Bulgaria - investor shows interest in state-owned cigarette monopoly Bulgartabac..

June 26, 2010 -

Bulgaria’s Economy Minister Traicho Traikov has assured that a strategic investor is eyeing the privatization of the state-owned cigarette monopoly Bulgartabac. "There is a strategic investor for Bulgartabac and the bidding will be opened by the end of the autumn,” Traikov disclosed in an interview for Standard daily.

Bulgaria’s Privatization Agency hopes to complete the sale of state-owned cigarette monopoly Bulgartabac in 2010. The privatization procedure has reached a phase in which the state is preparing its sale together with the consultant it picked in February, Citigroup Global Markets Ltd. Citigroup was picked winner after bidding EUR 1.018 million and 1.6% of Bulgartabac’s selling price in case of sale.

Bulgartabac Holding currently operates two cigarette factories compared with nine in 2004 and its market share has shrank to some 40% from 60% a year earlier. The holding still owns a number of commercial brands (The most popular domestic brand is Victory.) Two of the less profitable plants of Bulgartabac holding – in the cities of Plovdiv and Stara Zagora – were sold in 2009 on Sofia Stock Exchange.

Bulgartabac sale is part of Bulgaria’s center-right government plans to angle for strategic investors for key majors, such as the tobacco monopoly and a few energy companies, in which the state owns higher than a 50% stake.

The decision was taken earlier this year after the cabinet was urged to sell on the stock exchange shares in companies, which are part of the Bulgarian Energy Holding, in a bid to put the local capital market back on track.

Reference: Strategic Investor Said to Eye Bulgaria’s Tobacco Monopoly, Novinite.com (Sofia News Agency), 6/25/2010.

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