Sofia targets 500 mln euros in investments

SOFIA (AFP) – Bulgaria aims to be able to attract 400-500 million euros ($419-524 million) in foreign investments in 2003, despite the suspension of two large-scale privatizations over irregularities, officials said yesterday. Foreign Investment Agency President Pavel Ezekiev said the target did not include expected income from the privatizations of the Bulgarian Telecommunications Company (BTC) and tobacco giant Bulgartabac. Both privatizations were suspended in late 2002 after a court found irregularities in the procedures. In the first 10 months of 2002, foreign direct investment in Bulgaria reached $389 million (371 million euros), dropping from $493 million in the same period in 2001, the agency said. Ezekiev blamed the fall on «the recession in international markets.» The 29-year-old recently appointed agency head, who has previously worked for Microsoft and for Deutsche Bank in London, said he wanted to create a «qualitatively new» image for Bulgaria abroad. The country would try to attract investors from the USA and Russia, as well as Arab nations and the countries of the Far East to put money into real estate, tourism, light industry, mechanical construction, transport and telecommunications, he said.

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