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November 25 (SeeNews) - Bulgaria plans to sell shortly its stake in the Sofia bourse to an investor that will be able to turn it into a regional player, Finance Minister Simeon Dyankov said on Wednesday.
Apart from cashing out of the stock exchange operator, the government is also considering the listing of state enterprises as it looks to deliver on pledges to bolster the local capital market, Dyankov told financial news portal Darik Finance (www.darikfinance.bg) in an interview.
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The government in Sofia said a couple of years ago it was planning to sell its 44% stake in the Bulgarian Stock Exchange - Sofia (BSE) to a strategic investor. Brokerages, banks, institutional investors and individuals own the remaining BSE shares.
"Our plans are to find an investor relatively quickly - in a couple of months, which will make our bourse a regional player. This means, he should be relatively big-calibre."
Dyankov pointed to Deutsche Boerse and the Vienna Stock Exchange as investors of the appropriate stature.
Both exchanges have previously indicated they were interest in becoming a BSE shareholder.
The price offer and not the management potential will be key in the selection of a buyer, Dyankov said.
"After the entry of this heavyweight shareholder we should think about developing the Bulgarian bourse at regional level which means interacting with Macedonia and the other smaller states whose bourses cannot operate separately but should be part of a regional platform," Dyankov said.
"Though there are some quite interesting assets on the bourse, I believe that it should gain in regional scale in order to become attractive for major-league investors," he added.
PIPELINE OF STATE ENTERPRISE LISTINGS
The government is currently a majority shareholder in some 120 companies and a minority shareholder in another 260.
First up for a public status are the state-owned energy companies whose valuation is relatively stable in times of crisis. The government intends to initially list 15% stakes and later divest may be a further 10%, depending on investor interest. Gas transmission system operator Bulgartransgaz will most probably be the first to float on BSE as there is long-term pricing visibility in the sector where it operates and it will be easy to attract both foreign and domestic investors, the government official said.
According to Dyankov, state-owned equity in companies from the transport, telecommunications and infrastructure sectors will also be attractive for investors.
"There are different ways in which we can use these state assets but if we want to help the capital market, this should take place through the bourse. For me, this is the best option as it is more transparent than [a divestiture] through the Privatiasation Agency," he added.
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