Varna Shipyard Could Be Up By July

Tuesday, April 10, 2001
Cammell Laird said Bulgaria's dormant, state-controlled Varna shipyard could be up and running again by July if its bid for the indebted yard is approved by Bulgarian courts. "We hope we'll be able to resume operations sometime in July," Cammell Laird's European management director Tom Parry said. "Varna gives us an opportunity to expand...we see a market for new general cargo ships, bulk carriers and product tankers within the next 10 years," A regional court of appeal in the Black Sea city of Varna recently turned down objections by some of the yard's creditors to the British group's bailout plan that has been based on an indicative bid made by Cammell Laird last year. Creditors can appeal that decision within a period of about a month at Bulgaria's Supreme Court of Appeal, said Dimitar Smilenov, a court-appointed administrator at the idled yard that faced insolvency before Cammell emerged as a sole bidder. The money from Cammell Laird, which builds and repairs ships, would be used to compensate partly the creditors of the state-controlled yard that are now owed some 170 million levs by the plant, said Smilenov. "We are taking the yard on a clean bill," said Cammell Laird's Parry. He declined to comment on the price. The largest creditor was the Bank Consolidation Company, the government body managing state equity in Bulgarian banks. It was owed some 42 million levs as of February last year followed by the Bulgarian Maritime Fleet shipping company with 18.38 million. If the bailout plan cleared that last hurdle, Cammell Laird would pay 28.6 million levs ($13.1 million) to operate shipbuilding facilities and eventually acquire ownership of the yard's long-term assets, said Smilenov. Cammell Laird, under a policy of international expansion, has taken over a number of overseas yards last year, adding facilities in Marseilles and U.S. West Coast to existing yards at Birkenhead, Tyneside, Teeside and Gibraltar. - (Reuters)

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