Views on BG | September 11, 2001, Tuesday // 00:00


Bulgaria changed the management of state tobacco monopoly Bulgartabac as part of efforts to speed up its privatisation, Deputy Prime Minister Nikolai Vassilev said.
A tender for 51 percent in Bulgartabac held by a previous centre-right government failed to attract bids last year. The new coalition government led by former king Simeon Saxe-Coburg pledged to complete privatisation in the Balkan state.
``We have replaced the board of directors of Bulgartabac in order to stop its inefficient management and prepare the company for speedy privatisation,'' Vassilev, who is also Economy Minister, told reporters after an extraordinary shareholders meeting.
Bulgartabac's new executive director is Georgi Popov, who has so far worked in several Western companies in the Balkans. The company's new board chairman is current Deputy Minister of Economy Lyubka Kachakova.
Vassilev said last month, the government hoped to earn from Bulgartabac's sale between $100 million and $500 million this year. Philip Morris, British American Tobacco and a financial consortium have shown interest in Bulgartabac.
Bulgartabac has 22 subsidiaries including 12 tobacco-processing factories, nine cigarette factories and one producer of tobacco driers, filters and packing. It has three factories in Russia and two in Ukraine and Romania.
The government has yet to decide whether to sell the company as a whole or restructure the businesses and sell them separately, said Vassilev. Placing a minority stake on the local bourse is also part of the plans.
The state controls 93 percent in the holding, the remainder is distributed among private companies and individuals.
``Bulgartabac is the only Bulgarian company which can become a multinational and compete globally,'' said Vassilev.
The company sold 22,880 tonnes of cigarettes last year, up 6.13 percent from 1999. Its exports rose by 2,373 tonnes or 35.8 percent in 2000.
Bulgartabac Holding made a net profit of 11.68 million levs ($5.30 million) last year, up from 5.3 million levs for 1999.

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