Bulgarian cigarette maker King's Tobacco has confirmed its interest in the privatization of the country's state tobacco giant Bulgartabac Holding.
"Provided that we meet the requirements, we will join the competition. The requirements are pretty high because the state wants to protect the interests of tobacco producers," Boyko Kachulev, CEO of the company, commented.
The factory was part of Bulgartabac holding prior to its privatization in 2008 According to its data during the first three months of the year its market share expanded to 15%.
The cigarette maker exports its output to over 30 countries and plans to launch five new brands by the end of the year.
A majority stake - 79,83% - in Bulgaria's state cigarette producer Bulgartabac Holding, whose management has been harshly criticized in recent years, was put on sale on April 26 after years of procrastination.
The long-delayed procedure will be officially given the go-ahead by the agency for privatization and post-privatization control through an announcement in the State Gazette on May 10.
The agency invited strategic and financial investors to buy tender documents by June 10. Binding offers have to be filed by the end of August.
The bidder with the highest offer will be selected for buyer. No initial price has been set.
Philip Morris International Inc., Japan Tobacco Inc. and Korea's KT&G are among the potential buyers of Bulgartabac Holding, according to Privatization Agency chief Emil Karanikolov.
The buyer of Bulgartabac is expected to be known in September.
In spite of declarations in April 2010 that Bulgaria's Privatization Agency hoped to complete the sale of state-owned cigarette monopoly Bulgartabac in 2010, no such deal went through by the end of December 2010.
The consultant for the Bulgartabac sale, Citigroup Global Markets Ltd, was picked by the Bulgarian government in February 2010.
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.