Ten companies, including four top-notch investors, have purchased public procurement documents for acquiring a majority stake in Bulgaria's cigarette maker Bulgartabac, the Privatisation Agency said on Friday.
The four major companies are British American Tobacco, Japan Tobacco International, Philip Morris Bulgaria and South Korea's KT&G Corporation.
The other six candidates are Bulgarian law firms Kambourov & Partners and Dzhingov, Guginski, Kiuchukov and Velichkov; Bulgarian-based King's Tobacco; Austrian-based CB Family Office Service and BT Invest GmbH, and US-based Science Capital management LLC.
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 was 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.
The buyer of Bulgartabac is expected to be known in September.
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.