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Bulgaria's Plovdiv Mayor Wants International Fair Back

Date: 04.02.2011

The mayor of Bulgaria's second largest city Plovdiv, Slavcho Atanasov, has asked the Sstate to transfer stakes of the International Plovdiv Fair to Plovdiv citizens, if it wins the case of its management.

On Tuesday, the Regional Court in Plovdiv annulled the two increases of the fair's capital and returned the majority stake in the fair to the State.

However, the company has decided to appeal the court's ruling.

"We all know what a great and caring owner the state is," Atanasov said sarcastically, adding that the International Plovdiv Fair has been destroyed little by little while it was owned by the State.

The two capital increases were made in 2006 and 2007, reducing the State's stake below 50 % and making the municipal-private company Puldin Tourinvest of businessman, Georgi Gergov, a majority stakeholder. In 2008, Gergov acquired the majority share package of the company, which was not slated for privatization by purchasing them from restitution owners.

At the time, Gergov immediately replaced the Fair's management, appointing close associates to key posts under the approving eye of the former, Socialist-led Three-Way Coalition cabinet.

Soon after the cabinet of the Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB) party came into power, Economy and Energy Minister, Traicho Traikov,declared he would return the ownership of the Plovdiv Fair back to the State. The first idea was to increase the capital, but the move could not be carried out without the agreement of "Puldin Tourinvest."

In April 2010, Traikov submitted the case with the Court after a probe of the deal involving the Fair revealed a number of violations of the trade and privatization laws.

Atanasov was firm that as long as the case on the fair's management is going on, the deal for the joined holding "Puldin Tourinvest", in which the Plovdiv Municipality is participating, will not be terminated.

The mayor also noted that there is a possibility for the International Plovdiv Fair to become privately owned, if given to the State. However, the possibility for this is small, according to Atanasov, because this decision would have to be taken by the Municipal Council.

"The most fair decision would be for this strategic for Plovdiv object, which is also one of the city's symbols, to be managed by Plovdiv citizens", Atanasov said.

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