The newly-appointed CEO of the vastly-troubled Bulgarian State Railways BDZ Yordan Nedev has declared his intention to break even in 2012, not in 2014, as his predecessor intended.
Nedev, a financier who was appointed to replace Pencho Popov as CEO of the state-owned BDZ Holding in a surprise move by new Transport Minister Ivaylo Moskovski, spoke for the first time in public at a round table on the reforms in BDZ in Sofia on Wednesday.
"I feel as if I am at war," Nedev stated. "We are fighting against something, and we don't know what it is, there are new problems emerging all the time that we hadn't known anything about. We need to get rid of the enemy lurking in our bed."
Nedev made it clear that he got rather overwhelmed as the last two days that he spent getting acquainted with the situation in BDZ seemed to him like two months.
The new head of the Bulgarian State Railways declared that the 13 000 people working in BDZ hardly communicate properly among each other.
"As a person who has no background in the railways, I don't have any sentimental attachments, and prejudice, I am solely going to use my business logics. It makes no difference for me if BDZ had a loss of BGN 35 M in 2010, and of BGN 16 M in 2011. I am not going to sleep peacefully until we start making a profit," Nedev declared, making it clear he will seek to get the state company to break even in 2012, rather than 2014.
The new head of BDZ told about his last experience when 10 days ago he took an express train from Sofia to Varna, and could not get a coffee in the train buffet because somebody had stolen the coffee-maker two days ago.
He vowed to outsource all activities that can be transferred out of the BDZ structure.
When asked about the fate of the passenger lines that are at a loss, Nedev replied that "nothing smart can be said at this point," and that he is yet to examine the figures.
Answering a question by Petar Bunev, head of the railway union at the KNSB syndicate, the Chair of the Board of Directors of BDZ Vladimir Vladimirov revealed that even the busiest passenger railway lines in Bulgaria Sofia-Varna and Sofia-Burgas sometimes generate losses.
The new BDZ head Yordan Nedev has never worked at the BDZ, according to Dnevnik. He works for the MMD Partners consultancy, and has employment history at German consultancy Roland Berger in Bulgaria where he worked on the privatization of Bulgarian companies. He used to be the CEO of investor.bg. He has degrees from Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski and London Business School.
Bulgaria's state-owned passenger railway operator BDZ has been traditionally in horrendous financial condition in the past 20 years. At present, it hopes to get a loan of BGN 460 M, plus a loan of BGN 160 M for the National Company "Railway Infrastructure", from the World Bank for badly needed reforms.
However, the reform attempts have been countered by the trade unions as they threatened to lead to massive layoffs of the state-employed railway workers. Thus, in March 2011, the government was forced by an imminent railway strike to back out of some of its reform plans.