Bulgaria Confirms Up to 25% in Energy Holding Up for SaleEnergy | February 25, 2012, Saturday // 18:04| views
The government plans to sell a minority stake in the Bulgarian Energy Holding to raise several hundred million euros. File photo
Bulgaria's government plans to privatize this year a minority stake in the state-owned energy holding, which groups the country's top energy assets, the finance minister has confirmed.
Talking in parliament at the end of the week, Simeon Djankov said the government aims to sell a stake of between 10 to 25% in state energy company BEH (Bulgarian Energy Holding) via a foreign stock exchange by the end of the year.
The deal is expected to raise "several hundred million euros".
The Bulgarian Energy Holding is a 100% state owned joint stock company, including the Maritsa Iztok (East) Mines, the Maritsa Iztok (East) 2 Thermal Power Plant, the Kozloduy Nuclear Power Plant, the National Electric Company NEK, the Electricity System Operator ESO, Bulgargaz, Bulgartransgaz, and Bulgartel.
The holding was created in 2008 with the merger of five state-owned companies into a EUR 4 B energy giant.
Bulgaria's government is expected to list its 33% minority stake in E.ON and CEZ power distributors in April and May respectively in a bid to enliven the local stock exchange and boost revenues.
The third power distributor in the country - Austria's EVN AG - acquired more than 97% in the capital of its two units in Bulgaria right after the trade with their shares started on the local stock exchange at the end of last year.
A total of 112,795 shares in the two companies - Electrosnabdiavane and Electrorazpredelenie - were sold, raising BGN 92.97 M, well above the government's target of BGN 78.4 M.
Such a development is highly likely to lead to the delisting of the two companies, which make up the power utility Bulgarian unit, more successful and with higher profits than any of the other electricity distribution companies in the country.
Experts have repeatedly called on the government to launch high-quality initial public offerings to bring back to life the capital market, dented by low liquidity and lack of quality stock, as well as to boost revenues.
The looming delisting of EVN Bulgaria unit however has triggered speculations that the bourse was just used as a tool by the government to sell its minority stake to the majority owner at a much lower price.