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Philip Morris, Japan Tobacco, KT&G Interested in Bulgartabak

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April 26 (Bloomberg) -- Philip Morris International Inc. and Japan Tobacco Inc. are among potential buyers of Bulgartabak Holding, Bulgaria’s state tobacco company, Privatization Agency chief Emil Karanikolov said.

South Korean tobacco producer KT&G Corp. and four international financial firms have also shown interest in a 79.83 percent stake in Bulgartabak, Karanikolov told reporters in Sofia today. The asset-selling agency has set May 10 to Aug. 28 as the bidding period, he said.

“There are many political and economic considerations to be taken into account, which have made previous sell-off efforts difficult,” Karanikolov said. “We’ve made the offer attractive and I think there will be more candidates.”

It is the fourth attempt to sell the company in a decade and bids will be evaluated according to six criteria. Apart from price and investment plans, these focus on short- and long-term commitments to buy locally grown tobacco, Karanikolov said. Bulgaria picked Citigroup Global Markets Inc. to advise on the sale and has been in communication with the potential candidates.

Bulgartabak has six units, including four cigarette makers and a trading division. In the past three years, it’s sold four of its factories in auctions on the Bulgarian Stock Exchange.

To contact the reporter on this story: Elizabeth Konstantinova in Sofia at ekonstantino@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at bpenz@bloomberg.net

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