ECONOMY Minister Nikolai Vassilev has held an extraordinary meeting of the board of directors of Bulgartabac Holding to discuss the privatisation of the holding.
There were four points on the agenda of the meeting, held last Thursday, related to the sale. Vassilev thanked the Bulgartabac board for their good management of the company over the past 11 months.
The board briefed Vassilev on the results of the audit for 2001 carried out according to international accounting standards.
The Holding's performance last year was assessed as good.
Vassilev, who represents the Bulgarian state, told the board to refrain from changing the Holding rules of procedure and from unjustified spending, and to defend the interests both of the State as seller and of the future buyer in the period pending Bulgartabac's privatisation.
On Tuesday, all four bidders for the privatisation of 80 per cent stake in Bulgartabac submitted their answers to the 80 questions posed by the Privatisation Agency (PA)
The questions were mainly technical and aimed to clarify specific provisions of the proposals. However, the compliance with the deadline was expected as a sign of future intentions. Consortium Metatabac, in which controversial businessman Michael Chorny whom Bulgaria expelled, is involved, did not withdraw as it threatened to do. The partners in the consortium, Georgi Tassev and Garegin Gevondyan, announced their decision to pull out of the procedure last week but did not put this in writing.
The representatives of Tobacco Capital Partners and Consortium Metatabac, who were at the Privatisation Agency to submit the additional information, refused to speak to the press.
Tihomir Trendafilov of RosBulgartabac told reporters that apart from the requested additional information, he had also submitted a letter asking for a copy of a statement from an audit at Bulgartabac for last year according to international accounting standards. If RosBulgartabac saw there were tangible changes to the financial performance of the tobacco holding, then they would expect the Privatisation Agency to ask for improved offers.
Tobacco Capital Partners and the Dutch Clar Innis had 33 questions to answer, Consortium Metatabac and RosBulgartabac 20 questions and Tobacco Holding 15 questions.
Tobacco Holding told a news conference that if the PA asked for improved offers, they were ready to propose a minimum of 115 million euro. They are planning 17.3 million euro in investment in the overseas partnerships, said Augustin Garcia Salduegi.