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375. Bulgarian economy grew by 6% in 2008 - official estimate

Sofia Echo: 2009-02-17

Bulgaria's economy grew by six per cent in 2008 to 66.1 billion leva, the country's National Statistics Institute (NSI) said in a flash estimate on February 16, but the growth rate shrank drastically in the last quarter of the year.

Fourth-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) growth was 3.6 per cent, according to the NSI estimate, but the figure could rise because of the conservative approach used by the statistics board in making the estimate. NSI says that flash estimates, which it launched earlier in 2008, are still an experimental practice and should not be interpreted as official preliminary data concerning the level and growth rate of the Bulgarian economy.

In the second quarter, the statistics board's estimate of 6.3 per cent growth was trumped by the 7.1 per cent final figure, while the third-quarter estimate of 5.6 per cent was well below the 6.8 per cent final figure.

Even so, the final fourth-quarter data will fall short of the seven per cent growth rate that the Bulgarian economy recorded in the first nine months of the year. With the impact of recession in bigger markets finally making an impact on Bulgaria, the Cabinet looks likely to miss its 6.4 per cent economic growth target.

In 2007, when the Government target was the same, Bulgaria's economy grew by 6.2 per cent.

NSI's available data showed the agriculture sector grew by 20.6 per cent in the fourth quarter, boosted by the bumper harvest that followed the drought- and flood-ravaged one in 2007. However, agriculture only accounts for 3.7 per cent of GDP. Industry, which forms a quarter of the GDP, shrank by 0.1 per cent.

The services sector, which makes up the bulk of the Bulgarian economy, grew by 3.2 per cent.

NSI will release preliminary data for fourth-quarter and full-year economic growth on March 11.

374. The European car for 2009 already in Bulgaria

News BG: 2009-02-16

The winner in the competition Car of the year 2009 in Europe Opel Insignia is already officially on the Bulgarian automobile market, announced Autopress 2001.

In the Bulgaria the new model of the German brand is offered at a base price of 19 051 EUR VAT incl. The most expensive modification for the moment - 2.8 V6 Turbo ECOTEC with a 6-power automatic gearbox costs 36 047 EUR.

In the spring of 2009 the wagon version of Insignia will also be introduced to the Bulgarian market.

Opel Insignia enters the market with an extremely wide range of seven engines, all of them corresponding to the Euro 5 harmful emissions standards.

373. BTC signs the biggest office deal in Bulgaria

Sofia Echo: 2009-02-15

Bulgarian Telecommunications Company (BTC) has completed the largest deal for office space in country by renting more than 23 000 sq m of offices in the European Trade Center in Tsarigradsko Chaussee, next to the main base of the future Carrefour.

With this mega office deal, BTC will amalgamate its entire staff and management in a 16-storey building, the largest one in the complex, making it the largest such transaction on the Bulgarian market ever.

"European Trade Center OOD is proud to have acquired a top tenant, securing a lucrative 20-year contract with which it has rented out a full one-third of its capacity with one strike," Bernard Moscheni, chief executive of BTC, said, as quoted by Stroitelstvo Gradut in its February 9 2009 edition.

"The creation of a primary headquarters is part of the new policy of BTC, which aims for substantial improvement of the quality of service, human resource management, optimisation of expenditures and securing a healthy economic growth for the future," Moscheni said.

"We decided that our headquarters would be in the newest, most modern business trade centre in Bulgaria. We wanted to offer our staff an augmented and ergonomical working environment that would contribute to the speed and effectiveness of our services to our end clients," he said.

BTC will be able to occupy its new home in January 2010. The unification of all branches of BTC is a sequence to the merger of BTC with its mobile operator Vivatel.

"This is a massive, unprecedented deal on the Bulgarian market. This is about a vast amount of office space, and this deal is a testament in itself that the market in Bulgaria is developing, and that the business outlook for the future is a positive one," said David Davidov, manager of offices trade and industrial parcels at Colliers International, Bulgaria. The deal is for 20 years, with an initial annual rent of 3 480 000 euro, including a six-month period free of rent.

European Trade Center constitutes five large buildings with a total of 70 000 sq m of office space, created with the latest green technologies to reduce the carbon footprint and make it the most energy-efficient centre in the country.

It will be also the home of the French giant Carrefour in Bulgaria, which completed a deal for 7500 sq m of space. The centre is scheduled to open for business in January 2010, but companies will start moving in starting November 2009.

372. The Perperikon and Tatul sanctuaries crumbling to pieces

News BG: 2009-02-11

The Thracian sanctuaries in Perperikon and Tatul are crumbling little by little, scientists from BAS National Archaeology Institute claim.

They have been exploring the two archaeological sites for four years and report a number of violations, especially in the way digging works have been held.

The degree of demolition of a huge part of the stone structures does not allow their restoration, BNR reports.

No paths for tourists have been marked, so that the sanctuaries are well preserved from crumbling.

The dug up stone blocks and structures are seriously threatened, because of the temperature amplitudes and the winter and the autumn rains, Stefanka Ivanova, scientist in BAS notes.

"Tatul is completely crumbled. When we say that we've been struggling for 4 years, this mans we have warned The Ministry of Culture million times".

The Ministry announces that examination has been started.

371. Luxury Fanagoria complex to be built in Varna

Sofia Echo: 2009-02-10

Two five-storey condominiums, surrounded by expansive green belts and recreational zones, will comprise the new Fanagoria complex close to the Zlatni Pyasutsi (Golden Sands) resort of Varna. The complex has been approved and is due to begin construction at the end of March 2009. It is scheduled for completion by the end of 2011.

Investment has come from Golden Sands Development OOD, the project was designed by Pro-arch AD with chief architect Georgi Assenov. The approval was granted by the municipality of Varna, Stroitelstvo Gradut reports.

Fanagoria is perched very close to the Zlatni Pyasutsi resort, so making access to and from the resort very simple. This is an additional factor that the development company believes will contribute further to its value as well as demand for the property.

The complex is located on a steep hill, allowing for both buildings to be built in succession and enjoy a sea view. The condominiums, designated Body A and Body B, will have their own private beach and an outdoor swimming pool equipped with recreational facilities and multi-barbecues.

The compex's main entrance is due south-west. This provides access to the two underground parking lots under each of the buildings. Body A consists of 43 parking spaces. Body B has 47. Both parking lots have mobile ramps equipped by the German firm Klaus Multiparking.

In total, there are 71 apartments and 68 studios. Within the green belts enveloping the two buildings there will be a canteen, spa, indoors and outdoors bar. Fanagoria has a total area of 11 763 sq m of which the built-in area comprises 1666 sq m.

370. Bulgarian DJs take Hollywood by storm

Frog News: 2009-02-09

The US company West Vibe Publishing signed a contract with DJs Baltazar & JackRock. All their original mixes will be included in the company catalog and featured in films, TV commercials, video games and more.

They signed the contract with West Vibe Publishing last week in California during DJ Baltazars US tour. The tour included performances in clubs in LA, Las Vegas and Chicago and was very successful. The Bulgarian DJ has received more invitations to perform in the US. He is among the pioneers of electronic music in Bulgaria. He has been a professional DJ since 1998. Apart from clubs he has performed in rave parties and on TV and radio electronic music shows. He started producing his own music with his partner JackRock in 2003. Theyve dropped several discs, remixes and CD compilations. They also wrote the music score for the DVD movie Clinique Noir #2.

369. Russia repays the rest of the USSR debt to Bulgaria

News BG: 2009-02-07

Russia and Bulgaria signed an intergovernmental agreement for redeeming the rest of the debt of the ex-USSR to Bulgaria.

The ceremony of the signing took place in the presence of both states after their meeting in Kremlin, BTA reported.

The total volume of the Russian debt towards Bulgaria, which has remained from the ex-USSR, was around 100 million dollars.

Moscow promised to repay the debt in its entirety by 2004 though a shipment of atomic fuel for "Kozloduy" and a special production for the Bulgarian army.

This agreement, however, was not executed because of different circumstances, ITAR-TASS reports.

368. Blue Mountain Aparthouse is constructed in Beli Iskar

Sofia Echo: 2009-02-06

A residential complex called Blue Mountain Aparthouse will be built in the village of Beli Iskar, part of the resort destination Samokov Borovets. The complex, which will have holiday apartments to rent, lies just below the Rila National Park and on the Samokov-Borovets tourist route.

New ski slopes and facilities are planned to be built in the region that will descend all the way to the village of Beli Iskar. The village is seven km from Samokov and 72km south of Sofia under the towering summit of Musala Mountain, part of the Rila range, the highest mountain in the Balkan peninsula and south-eastern Europe.

The village, surrounded by a breathtaking environment of thick forests, has tremendous tourist potential. However this may not delight environmental activists opposed to further deforestation. Just one kilometre above the village lies the Rila National Park.

The main investor in the project is Artstudio OOD, headed by engineer Atanas Atanassov. The approved project is a brainchild of Arch-Design M, managed by Andrei Stratiev, and the project is scheduled to start construction in Spring 2009, the consulting company overseeing the process being Multiplex Engineering.

Blue Mountain Aparthouse has a total area of 1700 sq m, on a steel hill with a view to the east. The condominium's design is meant to be modern, practical and in harmony with the mountain and surrounding nature, according to Atanas Atanassov, reported by Stroitelstvo Gradut.

Resort apartments are between 70 and 70 sq m. The building will be equipped with four large storage areas as well as a ground floor designated for shops.

The most important asset of the condominium, however, according to its designers from Arch-Design, is its private, concealed atmosphere and its proximity to the Rila National Park. The eco-route and the international European tourist route is also close to Beli Iskar, making the place ideal for those attracted to mountain climbing, hiking, skiing and snowboarding.

367. Galeria Rousse wants to become town's biggest mall

Sofia Echo: 2009-02-05

Polish developer Global Trade Centre has secured the land for its fourth project in Bulgaria, the Galeria Rousse commercial and recreation complex at Lipnik Boulevard in the Danube River town, Stroitelstvo Gradut weekly reported.

The design was done by Sofia architectural firm Studio 17.5, headed by Plamen Nanov. The company that will carry out the construction of the mall is yet to be selected.

The complex is meant to accommodate stores, boutiques, large supermarket chains, fast-food outlets, restaurants, a cinema complex and a large underground parking lot. The total built-up area of the complex will be 119 400 sq m, of which 59 700 sq m above ground and 59 700 sq m are underground.

The mall will be equipped with a wide array of auxiliary facilitates a communications centre, offices for the management and staff, an administrative building, large storage and logistic facilities. The two-level underground parking lot is designed to accommodate 1297 vehicles.

The investment details of the project have not been disclosed, nor is it clear when construction would begin and when the mall would open its doors.

366. Developer Plaza Centers buys controlling stake in Sofia project

Sofia Echo: 2009-02-04

Plaza Centers NV, the Dutch-registered property developer that focuses on Central and Eastern Europe, said on February 3 that it acquired the controlling stake in an unnamed 75 000 sq m project in Sofia.

Plaza acquired 51 per cent in the project for 2.78 million euro and took on 4.36 million euro worth of debt, which was 51 per cent of the project's debt liability, the developer said in a statement on London Stock Exchange, where the company is listed.

The local developer will retain the remaining stake as joint venture partners in the project, with Plaza managing the construction, the company said.

"The design phase of the project is already underway for the planned 75,000 sqm gross built area, inclusive of parking spaces, with zoning approval for the construction of retail and office space as well as extensive parking," according to the statement.

"The site is ideally located at a main junction, 2.7 km from the centre of Sofia. The gross development budget for the project is expected to be 75 million euro, with construction anticipated to commence in 2010."

It will be Plaza's second project in Bulgaria, after the company bought a 20 000 sq m shopping centre development project in Shoumen in November 2007.

Plaza Centers, an indirect subsidiary of Elbit Imaging Ltd, is listed on the London Stock Exchange and the Warsaw Stock Exchange. Its parent company's shares are traded on both the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange in Israel and the Nasdaq in the US.

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