Views on BG | September 20, 2001, Thursday // 00:00


Deutsche Bank wants to buy Bulgaria`s tobacco monopoly Bulgartabac Holding which controls 27 factories, Economy Minister Nikolai Vassilev said on Thursday. `Yesterday I met representatives of Deutsche Bank`s investment fund which is interested in buying the holding company as a whole,` Vassilev told reporters. He declined to give the name of the bank`s fund and said he would unveil more details on Bulgartabac`s and other companies` privatisation on Friday. Deutsche Bank`s private equity arm is London-based Morgan Grenfell Private Equity. `There are also several other potential buyers of Bulgartabac. We are optimistic that the issue will be solved positively with one of those bidders,` Vassilev said. Philip Morris, British American Tobacco and a financial consortium have also shown interest in Bulgartabac. Earlier this month, Bulgaria`s new government of Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg, known as former King Simeon II, launched preparations for a speedy privatisation of Bulgartabac. A tender held by the previous centre-right cabinet for 51 percent in the monopoly failed to attract bids. The state controls 92.84 percent of the group, with the remainder held by private companies and individuals. Last month, Vassilev said Bulgaria hoped to earn between USD100 M and USD 500 M from a Bulgartabac sale this year. `We haven`t decided yet whether to sell the holding company as a whole or sell its factories separately. There are very serious arguments in favour of both options,` Vassilev said. He had said the most valuable asset was cigarette factory Blagoevgrad BT, in which Bulgartabac holds an 85-percent stake. Placing a minority stake of the holding on the local bourse was also part of plans. Bulgartabac has 22 local subsidiaries including 12 tobacco processing factories, nine cigarette factories and one producer of tobacco driers, filters and packing. It also has three factories in Russia and two in Ukraine and Romania.

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