Bulgaria's government has moved a step closer to packing together its stakes at the stock exchange and the depository in a bid to sweeten the deal for the bourse privatization.
The central bank announced on Thursday it has decided to transfer its 20% stake in the central depository to the finance ministry.
The two thousand shares will be purchased at their nominal value of BGN 100 apiece.
Following the acquisition of the central bank stake, the Finance Ministry will hold a 44.9% stake in the central depository, whose capital totals BGN 1 M. The state privatization agency owns 1.8%.
The decision of Bulgaria's government to pack together its stakes at the stock exchange and the depository has sweetened the deal for the bourse, its executive director argues.
"Such bundling will sweeten the deal and will ensure that the new owner will have the freedom to define its own policy on both trading and post-trading level," Ivan Takev, CEO of the Bulgarian Stock Exchange – Sofia, said in an interview for Novinite.com.
Takev voiced confidence that Bulgaria's stock exchange, which launched the sale of its shares in January, will attract a key European investor for its majority stake by the end of the year.
"So far we had some preliminary talks with large stock market operators and their initial interest was encouraging," he said.
Bulgaria's only stock exchange became a public company in the middle of December last year 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 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 will sell the remaining 50% held by private investors including brokerages and banks.
Takev said the increase in the government's share was just the first step in the privatization of the entire stake.
"Now the government has stronger bargaining power since it offers to sell full and unconditional control which was not exactly the case when it had 44%. The listing process ensured that the government would receive a fair market price when selling its stake plus a control premium."
He conceded that the sale itself is not going to increase the liquidity or restore investors' confidence, but added:
"The sale will ensure that all necessary mechanisms for this to happen are in place and there is a common policy focused on the market, which is in line with world's leading practices."