Bulgaria Sells 36% Stake in Arsenal Rifle Maker
Bulgaria is opening a one-stage tender to sell the 35.8% minority stake it still holds in one of the largest military factories in the country, Arsenal Kazanlak, which produces arms suitable for use by NATO.
Eligible bidders will be companies involved in weapons production. They also need to prove an annual income of at least BGN 40 M in the past year, the privatization agency said in a statement on Friday.
Binding bids from the potential buyers of the company, which employs 5,000 people, should be submitted by the middle of December.
In March this year Bulgaria lifted the requirement to keep minority stakes in formerly fully state-owned defense industry plants, paving the way for the complete privatization of what remains in terms of state assets in partially privatized military plants
In its motives for shedding the obligatory minority state quotas in the formerly fully-state owned military industrial complex, the Economy Ministry said that this will ease the privatization procedures and will help attract more investments in the defense industry.
The requirement that the state should keep a minority stake in the privatized military plants was made in March 1998 by the right-wing government of PM Ivan Kostov.
Back then, the Kostov Cabinet approved a list of 25 companies from the military-industrial complex where the state was supposed to keep a minority stake; the government also envisaged the creation of a special institution to manage the state-owned stakes, the Dnevnik daily points out in a report.
Subsequent cabinets, however, have moved ahead with the restructuring of the Bulgarian defense industry by declaring six of these companies for liquidation.
At present, the Bulgarian government is the sole owner of the capital of VMZ Sopot, NITI Kazanlak, and TEREM, and holds a minority stake in Arsenal Kazanlak.
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