Bulgarian Govt Reshuffles Management of Key State Companies

Business | July 25, 2012, Wednesday // 18:51
Bulgaria: Bulgarian Govt Reshuffles Management of Key State Companies Pictured: The dismissed CEO of Technoexportstroy Emil Kotsev. Photo by BGNES

Bulgaria's Borisov Cabinet has dismissed the CEOs of two key state-owned companies, arms trader Kintex and construction company Technoexportstroy in an unannounced move.

Kintex CEO Anton Saldzhiyski and Technoexportstroy CEO Emil Kotsev have been dismissed, Bulgarian media have confirmed, citing documents from the national Trade Registry.

The news about Saldzhiyski and Kotsev's firing were first announced to the public on Wednesday by two MPs from the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party, ex Interior Minister Rumen Petkov and Dimcho Mihalevski.

The ex chiefs of Kintex and Technoexportstroy are known to have "survived" under several different cabinets, and have been dubbed "eternal" by some Bulgarian media. Over the past year, both of them were temporarily dismissed but were later restored to their positions.

Kotsev was fired for a few hours by Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov in February 2011 after the company that he managed provided a plane for the evacuation of Bulgarian citizens during the civil war in Libya, a move that was interpreted by Borisov as a PR act to the expense of the Cabinet.

Saldzhiyski was dismissed as CEO of Kintex on February 8, 2011, by then Economy Minister Traicho Traikov but was restored on November 8, 2011.

Technoexportstroy is currently managed by Bulgaria's Finance Ministry, which took it over from the Regional Development Ministry in early July 2012. Kintex is managed by the Ministry of Economy, Energy, and Tourism.

Both Kintex and Technoexportstroy were set up during the communist period, with Kintex formerly being rather secretive as it managed Bulgaria's substantial arms exports, amidst other activities of the former communist regime.

"The dismissal of the CEO of the state arms trader Kintex Anton Saldzhiyski is based on rather inane and absolutely dishonest and unfair motives," Socialist MP Rumen Petkov told reporters on Wednesday.

He added that Saldzhiyski had been in charge of Kintex since 1994 when the firm's arms exports were worth about USD 25 M annually, with Saldzhiyski managing to drive its turnover up to USD 55 M. Petkov has slammed a statement by Economy Minister Delyan Dobrev that Kintex has lost some of its market share as incorrect.

"The claims that Kintex has turned its back to the main Bulgarian state-owned arms producer VMZ Sopot is unfounded," Petkov said.

In his words, the Bulgarian Socialist Party is very worried watching the government's motion to privatize Technoexportstroy.

"The initial asking price was BGN 68 M, with the Privatization Agency now about to drop the minimum asking price. Technoexportstroy's capital at present is about BGN 80 M, including over BGN 15 M worth of real estate properties, and over BGN 30 M in cash. We need to prevent all speculations that you will probably hear from the government that there is undistributed profit here," stated in turn another BSP MP, Dimcho Mihalevski.

He added that Technoexportstroy is not only in a good financial condition but also has a great history and authority abroad, in many countries, which harbors a great potential to expand Bulgaria's business interests.

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Tags: BSP, Bulgarian Socialist Party, Kintex, Technoexportstroy, privatization, Privatization Agency, Rumen Petkov, MPs, MP, Dimcho Mihalevski, construction, Anton Saldzhiyski, Emil Kotsev, Delyan Dobrev, Economy Minister, Boyko Borisov, Prime Minister, Traicho Traikov, state-owned
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