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TBP Legal and Business News - April 2013

 

TBP Legal News March 2013
TBP Legal News April 2013

 

Mercedes and Porsche Start Production in Bulgaria

Automotive giants Mercedes and Porsche will open a factory complex (Autopark Bulgaria) for production of automobiles and spare parts in the city of Vidin, a port town on the southern bank of the Danube river. In order to support the project, the Government appointed a new honorary consul of Bulgaria in Stuttgart – Mr Till Truckenmuller, chairman of the Automobile Cluster. The investors selected the location due to its strategic proximity to the important transport corridor Danube Bridge 2 which will be opened later this year and will connect Bulgaria and Romania. The factory will be built under the Program for development of the Danube region. Autopark Bulgaria is expected to start operations in 2017.

During the past decade Bulgaria became an attractive destination to automotive investors such as Montupet (France), Palfinger (Austria), IXETIC (Germany), Witte Automotive (Germany), Yazaki Corporation (Japan), Great Wall Motor Co (China). After becoming European Union member in 2007, Bulgaria attracts foreign investments thanks to low tax rates, stable fiscal policy and educated and affordable human resources.

Telenor Acquires the Second Largest Mobile Operator in Bulgaria

On 26 April 2013 Telenor signed an agreement with OTE, controlled by Deutsche Telekom, to acquire Bulgarian mobile operator Globul for EUR 717 million on a cash and debt free basis. Globul has been present in Bulgaria since 2001 and is Bulgaria's second-biggest mobile operator with 4.5 million customers and 36% market share. The deal also includes telecoms retailer Germanos Bulgaria. The transaction is subject to merger control approvals and is expected to be finalised in Q3 2013. Following completion of the sale, OTE will have raised EUR 1.3 billion from asset sales since January 2012. OTE sold Hellas Sat and a 20% stake in Telekom Serbia.

New Tourism Act

The Bulgarian Parliament passed a new Tourism Act which repealed completely the existing one. The Tourism Act was promulgated in State Gazette (issue 30/26.03.2013).

According to the new law, the territory of Bulgaria will be divided into several tourist regions where various tourist promotional activities will be supported by the state. The tourist regions will be named and will have logos and slogans. The number, name and territory range of the tourist regions will be announced in an ordinance by the Minister of Economy, Energy and Tourism and will be promulgated in the State Gazette.

The new law is synchronized with the EU legislation in the tourism sector. According to the law, tour operators can operate on the territory of Bulgaria if they are: (i) commercial entities established in Bulgaria or in a EU member-state; (ii) registered as tour operators under the legislation of Bulgaria or another EU member-state; (iii) have suitable premises and engage qualified personnel; and (iv) have valid insurance covering liabilities, including these resulting from insolvency.

Hotels, motels, restaurants, etc. remain subject to state controlled quality certification (stars rating), valid for a period of 5 years.

Stricter and regular control is planned to be imposed over hotel and restaurant businesses aiming at improvement of the quality of the provided services and qualification of the personnel. The new Tourist Act envisages higher penalties for a wide range of malpractices of tour operators, hotels, restaurants and other leisure businesses.

According to information published on the official website of the Ministry of Economy, Energy and Tourism (www.mi.government.bg) 6,540,839 foreign tourists visited Bulgaria in the period January – December 2012, which is an increase of 3.4% compared to 2011. An official research conducted by the Ministry shows that Bulgaria became an attractive tourist destination due to the historical places of interest, unique nature, four-season climate, safety, pleasant and comfort accommodation and quite reasonable competitive prices. The tourist branch reported successful winter season and expects an even stronger summer season in 2013.
 

TBP Legal and Business News - April 2013