SOFIA, Sept 13 (Reuters) - Bulgaria is preparing to offload its 33 percent stakes in two power distribution companies controlled by Czech utility Energo Pro next month after the financial regulator approved the sale documentation on Thursday.
The Balkan country, struggling to restart the fledgling economy, plans to use proceeds - estimated at about 60 million levs ($39.5 million) by industry officials - to bolster public finances and enliven the Sofia bourse which suffers from low liquidity.
The auction of the shares in the two companies on the Bulgarian Stock Exchange will most likely start in early October, said Alexander Zahariev at Bulgarian brokerage FFBH, which is involved in organising the sales.
“We will hold meeting with investors by the end of month. We expect interest from Bulgarian institutional investors (such as pension funds)” he said.
The minimum sale price for the stakes is yet to be set by the Bulgarian Privatisation Agency, he said.
The government hoped to sell its stakes last year, but the deals were delayed after Germany’s E.ON, which controlled the two companies, agreed to sell its majority stake to Energo Pro for 130 million euros.
The units operate a distribution network of about 42,000 kilometres in northeast Bulgaria and supplied 5.5 billion kilowatt hours of electricity to 1.1 million clients last year.
Their combined assets stood at 600 million levs at the end of 2011 and their combined net profit was 21 million last year.
Bulgaria also aims to sell stakes in energy distributor CEZ Bulgaria, controlled by Czech power group CEZ, by the end of the year.
The country raised 93 million levs via the sale of minority stakes in two power companies to Austrian power utility EVN last December. ($1 = 1.5174 Bulgarian levs) (Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova; Editing by David Holmes)