BAT, BT Invest Only Sure Bidders for Bulgaria's Bulgartabac - Report
British American Tobacco and Austria-registered BT Invest are the only two companies, which will certainly bid for Bulgaria's majority stake in cigarette maker Bulgartabac, according to reports.
The two companies bought information memoranda before the deadline expired on July 25, Standard daily reported, citing sources.
CB Family Office Service, the other Austria-based company, which was expected to submit a binding offer, has not purchased an information memorandum, but there is still a chance that it takes part in the tender, the report says.
The company had operational problems with the bank transfer of the money needed to purchase the information memorandum (BGN 20,000), which is the reason why it missed the deadline, the daily learned.
The companies have to place a deposit and submit binding bids no later than August 29. The winner will be selected in September.
Russia's second-biggest bank VTB stands behind the Austrian investment fund BT Invest, officials announced earlier this month.
CB Family Office Service is a consultancy based in Graz, Austria, while British American Tobacco is the only strategic investor among the potential bidders.
Meanwhile the head of Bulgaria's Corporate Commercial Bank, which is believed to finance the media group of mogul Irena Krasteva, has denied he is interested in the privatization of the country's state tobacco giant Bulgartabac Holding.
Tsvetan Vassilev is rumored to be linked to one of the two bidders for the state-owned cigarette-making giant, registered in Austria - CB Family Office Services and BT Invest.
Corporate Commercial Bank currently holds a 8.11% in Bulgartabac. The bank, which is believed to finance the media group of mogul Irena Krasteva, holds nearly half of the money of strategic state-owned companies.
A majority stake - 79,83% - in Bulgaria's state cigarette producer Bulgartabac Holding, whose management has been harshly criticized in recent years, was put on sale on April 26 after years of procrastination.
The long-delayed procedure was officially given the go-ahead by the agency for privatization and post-privatization control through an announcement in the State Gazette on May 10.
The bidder with the highest offer will be selected for buyer. No initial price has been set.
The consultant for the Bulgartabac sale, Citigroup Global Markets Ltd, was picked by the Bulgarian government in February 2010.
Two of the less profitable plants of Bulgartabac holding - in the cities of Plovdiv and Stara Zagora - were sold in 2009 through the Sofia Stock Exchange - for BGN 31 M and BGN 18 M respectively.
The holding currently owns the two larger and more consolidated factories in Sofia and Blagoevgrad as well as a number of commercial brands.
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