Bulgaria Extends Deadline for Largest Military Plant Bidders

Business | August 10, 2012, Friday // 13:52|  views

The privatization of military plant VMZ Sopot was launched on July 10 by Energy and Economy Minister Delyan Dobrev and Labor Minister Totyu Mladenov. File photo

A month after the launch of the privatization of VMZ Sopot, Bulgaria's largest, but troubled defense industry plant, the sale body extended the deadline for buying documentation.

The deadline for buying documentation for participation in the tender for the troubled arms producer VMZ Sopot will be extended until August 24, Emil Karanikolov, head of the state privatization agency announced.

The privatization process is planned to be wrapped up within 165 days, during which the state is to clear all of the company's debts, including unpaid salaries to its workers, according to reports of the Bulgarian Telegraph Agency (BTA).

In three months' time, the plant is to be bought by a strategic investor which is in the same sphere of production.

The bidders are to become clear in 30 days, after which the State Agency for National Security (DANS) and the special services are to launch inspections.

Bulgaria's Energy Minister Delyan Dobrev has vowed that the state would ensure the timely payment of the workers' salaries through new orders for the plant.

Employees of VMZ Sopot are to receive over BGN 1.5 M in unpaid salaries.

The trade unions at VMZ Sopot called off the strike and said they would expect the government to keep its promises.

Bulgaria's Energy Minister has assured that the privatization strategy for VMZ Sopot envisaged a commitment for the buyer to keep the plant's activity, its workers and its human resources expenses.

The VMZ Sopot plant, located in central Bulgaria, has a total staff of 3 700 workers.

The plant was founded in 1936, and during the communist period was developed into a large-scale military industrial unit.

VMZ Sopot produces anti-tank guided and unguided missiles, aviation unguided missiles, artillery ammunition, fuses.

It also manufactures civilian products – it makes diamond tools, abrasive discs and grinding wheels, gas cylinders, food industry equipment, and household appliances.

VMZ Sopot has been in a troubled financial condition in the last few years.

In 2007, Bulgaria's Privatization Agency started to sell some of the plant's assets in order to cover part of its debts; some of its assets were also sold at the beginning of 2009.

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Tags: privatizaiton, Delyan Dobrev, Energy and Economy Minister, VMZ Sopot, military plant, Totyu Mladenov, Labor Minister, unpaid wages, Sergey Stanishev, Bulgarian Socialist Party


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