Bulgaria finalises controversial tobacco deal
Bulgaria finalised on Monday the controversial sale of state-owned cigarette maker Bulgartabac to a firm belonging to Kremlin-controlled Russian bank VTB for 100.1 million euros ($137.4 million).
Numerous other privatisation attempts have failed over the past 13 years, and critics have questioned who is behind the new buyer, an Austria-registered company majority owned by a unit of VTB that was the sole bidder.
Previous privatisation attempts were opposed by the Turkish minority MRF party, in Bulgaria's government between 2001-2009, as tobacco-growing is a major source of employment for the country's 10-percent Turkish population.
The finalisation of the deal, which saw the European Union's poorest member offload a 79.8-percent stake, came six days ahead of presidential and local elections.
© 2011 AFP