Only three companies remain in the bidding for Bulgaria's state-owned cigarette-making giant Bulgartabac Holding, and only one of them, BAT, is a strategic investor, reports news agency Novinite.
In addition to British American Tobacco (BAT), only two companies registered in Austria – CB Family Office Services, a consultancy based in Graz, and BT Invest, an investment fund – are in the bidding to purchase of a majority stake in Bulgartabac.
A total of 10 companies bought documents for the privatisation tender for Bulgartabac Holding, but only three have notified Bulgaria's Agency for Privatisation and Post-Privatisation Control that they met preliminary requirements for bidding by Monday, which was the deadline.
The Bulgarian Privatisation Agency is supposed to issue certificates for the registration of British American Tobacco, CB Family Office Service, and BT Invest by 25 July - the deadline for purchasing information memorandums for Bulgartabac Holding is the same date. The three bidders should be able to submit binding offers by 29 August.
With the exception of BAT, three of the four major companies that were expected to bid for Bulgartabac have dropped out of the tender - Japan Tobacco International, Philip Morris Bulgaria and South Korea's KT&G Corporation.
BAT came close to buying Bulgartabac in 2004 but the deal was allegedly halted by the ethnic Turkish party DPS (Movement for Rights and Freedoms) over concerns raised by its voters, many of whom are tobacco growers.