Bulgaria Explains Axing Bourse Sale

Finance | March 15, 2013, Friday // 14:40|  views

Bulgaria's Finance Ministry holds a 50.0542% stake in the stock exchange. File photo

Bulgaria's Finance Ministry has listed two official reasons for Bulgaria giving up on plans to find an investor for its only stock exchange and sell it during the first quarter of 2013.

According to the official statement, one is the procedure being overly-prolonged and the second is the changed investment climate in the country.

Former Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister, Simeon Djankov, has sent a letter on February 20 to the Agency for Privatization and Post-Privatization Control recalling the privatization, grounding it on the above 2 reasons.

February 20 was the exact same day when Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov, made the shocking announcement his government was resigning.

The privatization concept was adopted by Borisov's government of centrist Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria party, GERB, in April 2011.

The Privatization Agency was assigned the task in March 2012.

According to BSE Chief Executive Ivan Takev the bourse is worth about EUR 10 M, which means a sale of the stake would be worth around EUR 5 M.

However, the depository is not a listed firm, so its valuation and sale price were to be calculated by the consultants in charge of selling the assets.

According to insiders the government initially hoped to sell the majority stake in the bourse by the end of 2011, but its plans went sour over lack of bidders. The deadline was later moved to the first quarter of 2013.

Shortly after the Bulgarian Stock Exchange launched the sale of its shares in January 2011,  Djankov announced that there was a "huge" interest among investors.

CEE Stock Exchange Group however was the only one to openly declare its interest, but no detailed talks have been held so far.

Bulgaria's only stock exchange became a public company in the middle of December 2010 after the Financial Supervision Commission approved its prospectus and the bourse was listed on its own platform. The capital of the bourse is a total of BGN 6 582 860 at BGN 1 apiece.

Bulgaria's Finance Ministry raised at the beginning of October that year its share to 50% plus one share from 44% in the country's stock exchange. The government bought 715,000 shares at BN 1 apiece. The bourse planned to sell the remaining 50% held by private investors including brokerages and banks.

The shareholders said the move aimed to ease the future privatisation of the exchange and the search for a strategic investor.

Since 2008, the stock exchange has traded on the Deutsche Boerse's Xetra platform under a contract that expires in 2012. Bulgaria has discussed ways to sell its bourse stake over the past decade with Sweden's OMX AG and exchanges in Austria, Greece and Poland to boost interest in local stocks and make trading more transparent.

The Agency for Privatization and Post-Privatization Control picked at the beginning of December Czech company Patria Corporate Finance to act as consultant as the country was looking for an investor for its only stock exchange.

Its contract has been suspended after the privatization was abandoned.

The company, which is part of the Belgian group KBC, was preferred to Deloitte Bulgaria and Bulbrokers Consulting.

The selected company was assigned to prepare marketing, legal and financial analysis of both companies, evaluate them and write information memoranda.

The consultant had one month to perform its tasks, which means that the preparation of the transaction has already been completed.

Bulgaria's Finance Ministry holds a 50.0542% stake in the stock exchange.

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Tags: Deloitte, Patria Corporate Finance, Bulbrokers Consulting, Bulgaria, stock exchange, Finance Ministry, Bulgarian Stock Exchange, Victor Papazov, Financial Supervision Commission, finance minister, Simeon Djankov, Tags: Ivan Takev, Agency for Privatization and Post-Privatization control


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