Eurobank could enter bidding for Bulgarian airline

SOFIA (Reuters) – Seven companies have bought tender documents for the sale of Bulgaria’s national flag-carrier Bulgaria Air, the privatization agency said yesterday. Austrian Airlines, Italian airline Air One and its Bulgarian-registered unit Air One, along with Bulgaria’s Hemus Air have all expressed interest in the deal and are expected to file initial bids by August 17. The US fund York Capital Management, Bulgarian Post Bank, owned by Greece’s EFG Eurobank, and British Trans Atlantic Aviation also bought documents. «Seven companies have bought documents for the tender. The ones that meet tender criteria will be able to file indicative bids by August 17,» the spokeswoman for the privatization agency said. The Balkan country has said it hopes to sell 99.99 percent of its small but profitable airline by the end of the year, before it joins the EU in 2007 as planned and opens its skies for airline companies from the bloc. The Socialist-led government has said that price will be the primary factor. It will also keep a golden share to ensure its interests are protected. Flying to 25 destinations with a fleet of nine leased Boeings, Bulgaria Air has a 25 percent market share on flights in and out of Bulgaria.