Bulgarbatac New Owner Said to Mull Piecemeal Sale of Assets

Industry | September 9, 2011, Friday // 14:26|  views

BT Invest, owned by Russia's second-largest bank VTB , won at the end of August a tender to buy a 79.8% stake in Bulgartabac for EUR 100 M. Photo by Sofia Photo Agency

Russia's second-biggest bank VTB, which recently acquired a majority stake in Bulgaria's cigarette maker Bulgartabac, is considering the sale of individual assets of the holding, according to local media reports.

The new owner has dropped suggestions to sell the company outright, opting to sell off its assets piecemeal instead, Russian media claims.

"Bulgartabac acquisition by VTB may prove to be more profitable for the holding than expected. The bank will sell the assets to strategic investors, but this will be a piecemeal sale," Maxim Karalyov, an expert from the specialized agency "Russian tobacco" commented for RBK daily.

The article points out that strategic investors have been deterred by the obligation to purchase Bulgarian tobacco.

"The tobacco industry does not have the habit of chasing two rabbits – the companies either  processes tobacco or manufacture cigarettes," the daily wrote.

BT Invest, owned by Russia's second-largest bank VTB , won at the end of August a tender to buy a 79.8% stake in Bulgartabac for EUR 100 M.

The contract bans the resale of the holding in the next ten years, a condition which can be skipped through a change in the ownership of BT Invest, analysts say.

Austria-registered BT Invest, behind which stands Russia's second-biggest bank VTB, remained the only bidder for the Bulgarian tobacco monopoly after British American Tobacco and Austria-based CB Family Office Service dumped the sale.

Two of the less profitable plants of Bulgartabac holding - in the cities of Plovdiv and Stara Zagora - were sold in 2009 through the Sofia Stock Exchange - for BGN 31 M and BGN 18 M respectively.

The holding currently owns the two larger and more consolidated factories in Sofia and Blagoevgrad as well as a number of commercial brands.

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