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Bulgaria Energy Mega Structure Faces Pay Back to the State

Date: 21.10.2009

The Bulgarian Energy Holding, which groups the country's top energy assets, must transfer as a donation to the state the financial resources collected as other reserves, the government has decided. The proposal was tabled by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Simeon Djankov.

The ministry has refused to disclose the amount of the money in question or to comment on the rather untraditional form through which the government has decided to transfer them.

“The new government is making an attempt to claim back the part of the budget surplus, which their Socialist predecessors invested in the holding,” former Prime Minister and leader of the right-wing Democrats for Strong Bulgaria, commented.

The previous Socialist-led government set up the mega-structure last year in a bid to strengthen the country's' position in the European power market and manage major energy projects Bulgaria has committed to, including Belene nuclear power plant, Nabucco and e South Stream gas pipelines

The new center-right government of GERB party, which swept the July general elections, has subjected the Bulgarian Energy Holding to financial checks to find out how the money poured into it for raising its capital has been used.

The operating expenses of the mega-structure, from the beginning of the year till July exceeded BGN 5 M, nearly half of which were splurged on external services, the minister said.

The holding was created in 2008 with the merger of five state-owned companies - the National Electric Company NEK, the gas monopoly Bulgargaz, the Maritza Iztok Mines, the Maritza Iztok 2 Thermal Plant, and the Kozloduy Nuclear Power Plant into a EUR 4 B energy giant.

It is a sole owner joint-stock company with a 100 % Bulgarian state ownership.

The Bulgarian Energy Holding sacked at the end of last week the chief executives of the state power utility NEK Lubomir Velkov and Mardik Papazian over their failure to reduce the losses of the company.

The state power utility was also blamed for signing a EUR 250 M BNP Paribas-syndicated loan to help fund construction of a EUR 4 B nuclear power plant at the Danube river town of Belene.

NEK's poor results, triggered by a fall in power consumption, forced it to breach the conditions on the loan, making it callable.

The new government announced at the end of August plans to dissolve the mega-structure, but has not yet pushed them through.

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