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Dec 27, 2007 18:21 EEST
December 27 (SeeNews) - Bulgarian state railways company BDZ expects to post a pre-tax profit of between 5.0 million ($3.7 million/2.6 million euro) and 10 million levs ($7.4 million/5.1 million euro) this year due to sales of non-core assets, an official said on Thursday.
"The forecast for a positive result is due to rising sales from non-core businesses, mostly real estate sales," BDZ's public relations director Christina Beleva told SeeNews but provided no forecast sales figures.
BDZ said a couple of months ago it pared its first-half loss by 21 million levs on the year to 1.7 million levs, due to cost cuts and increased revenue from sales of non-core assets. The company ended 2006 with 29 million levs loss.
BDZ planned to carry some 33.7 million passengers this year, up from the 33 million in 2006 and transport 20.4 million tonnes of cargo in 2007, slightly down from last year.
"For next year, we expect passenger traffic to rise by two to three percent and freigh tonnage traffice - by one percent," Beleva said.
Earlier this year, BDZ was split up into three divisions - passenger transportation, freight transportation and locomotives. The split is aimed at ensuring that the expanding freight service of BDZ will no longer subsidise the loss-making passenger service. The state railway firm now controls about 92% of the freight transportation in Bulgaria, according to its own estimates.
BDZ placed in November a 120 million euro 10-year bond, aiming to raise funds for debt repayment and upgrade of its rolling stock. The bond is part of the recovery programme for Bulgarian railway transport in the years up to 2017. Under the programme, BDZ will take out loans of 25 million levs in each of the next 10 years to secure its financial stability and upgrade its rolling stock and equipment.
(1 euro = 1.95583 Bulgarian levs)
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