Bulgaria announces birth of energy giant with new holding company

14 February 2008 - Bulgaria will pool its main energy assets into a single company in a move to boost its position on the regional and European energy markets.

Sofia said that it would transfer the country's main electricity and gas companies, the only nuclear power station, the main thermal heating plant and the largest coal mines into a single holding company, Bulgarian Energy Holding, by the end of 2008.

The assets were the National Electricity Company, Bulgargaz, the Kozoluduy nuclear power plant, the Maritza East coal mines and the thermal heating utility Maritza East II, the statement said.

"After consolidation, the holding's assets will amount to €4.0bn ($5.8bn), making it one of the biggest energy companies in the region with expected annual revenues of €1.8bn," the statement said.

The move was aimed at "increasing the efficiency and competitiveness of the energy sector in the regional and European markets, while enabling it to attract more investment and ensure growth."

The decision was attacked by the opposition in parliament and industry as a step back at a time when Europe was seeking to break up energy monopolies in order to boost competition.

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