The Bulgarian refinery of Russian oil company Lukoil has come in 47th on the list of 500 largest companies from Central Europe compiled by auditing firm Deloitte.
Lukoil Neftochim Burgas leapfrogged Lukoil Bulgaria, which trades in the refinery output, state power utility NEK and Aurubis Bulgaria, the Bulgarian subsidiary of Europe's largest copper smelter Aurubis, which ranked 77, 85 and 139 respectively.
There are altogether 14 Bulgarian firms on the Deloitte CEE Top 500 list, including leading Bulgarian operator MobilTel, Czech power utility CEZ, which supplies power to over 2 million households and companies in western Bulgaria, the Bulgarian subsidiary of Austrian oil and gas group OMV and the retail chain Metro.
According to the fourth edition of the CEE Top 500 report, indications from the first quarter of 2010 suggest that a gradual economic recovery is already underway, demonstrated by widespread increases in company revenues following a year of steep decline, Deloitte said.
Several factors are at play in supporting the recovery, including economic stimulus packages from western governments and international organizations, national action to reduce deficits and company programs to streamline and modernize their operations.
According to Deloitte Central Europe CEO Michael J. Barrington, the region's companies need to look to their 'natural' advantages to exploit export opportunities:
"International trade is highly dependent on the sustainable economic health of trading partners outside Central Europe - the region's companies cannot influence this, but should take the opportunity to leverage the full value of their lower labour and production costs."
Other important elements behind the Central European region's fragile recovery include some clear competitive advantages that the region's economies hold over their Western European counterparts, according to Deloitte.
These include a relatively low-cost labour force, new production facilities that are more efficient than older plants in the west, and a banking sector that escaped the worst impacts of the financial and economic crisis.