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(DF) Varna Regional Governor Stops Deal for International Plovdiv Fair Shares

December 20 (BTA) – A deal for the transfer of 29 per cent shares in the International Plovdiv Fair by the Municipality in Varna, on the Black Sea, to business owner Georgi Gergov, was put on hold by an order of Varna Regional Governor Mario Skurkov on Monday. The share transfer would have increased Gergov’s share in the Plovdiv Fair to close to 80 per cent and allowed him full control of the Fair’s business. Established in 1892, the Plovdiv Fair is the largest one in Bulgaria. The Varna Regional Governor contested in court a decision by the local municipal council to transfer the shares as in-kind contribution in Gergov’s company Puldin Tourinvest. Last week Smurkov was asked to do exactly that by Economy and Industry Minister Kornelia Ninova. Ninova argued that the transfer would have been an act of clandestine privatization. Varna owns 16.3 million uncertificated shares in the Plovsiv Fair of 1 lev each, representing 29 per cent of the capital. The other shareholds are the Economy Ministry (20.63 per cent), Puldintour Invest (50.36 per cent) and others (0.01 per cent). The transaction okayed by the municipal council is already being checked by the prosecution service. The prosecutors were alerted about the matter by former Varna municipal councilor Stela Nikolova She said, as quoted by that Varna has had the shares for four and a half years and never sent a representative to protect its interests at the Plovdiv Fair. Leaving somebody else to do that. She says that added up to mismanagement. She also said that last year the Municipal Council decided in 2017 to ask the Varna Mayor to return the shares to the State but no action followed. Dnevnik recalls that GergovТs Puldin Tourinvest acquired 50.63 per cent in the Fair in what was essentially secret privatization. Three years ago, the Boyko Borissov government handed over to the Municipalities of Varna and Plovdiv share packages (29 per cent to Varna and 20.63 per cent to Plovdiv) but soon after that the decision was reversed and the government asked the shares back. Plovdiv has already returned the shares but Varna dragged its feet about it Ц despite the Municipal CouncilТs decision to return them. LN///