INTERVIEW – Bulgaria’s Farin Seeks Partner for Construction of Wind Farms Worth Total 200 Mln Euro
Bulgarian diversified company Farin is looking for a partner in the construction of four wind farms worth a combined 200 million euro ($260 million), the company's executive director said on Tuesday.
This year the company will concentrate on renewable energy generation, a sector it now enters, and on agriculture, Veselin Bakardjiev told SeeNews in an interview.
“We have projects for the construction of four wind farms, each with an installed capacity of 50 megawatts,” Bakardjiev said. "The average investment in each of the parks is some 50 million euro, so the total amount of the project is some 200 million euro."
The wind farms are to be built near the northeastern town of Dobrich where Farin is headquartered.
“The project is at a very advanced stage of preparation. Currently, we are seeking to establish a joint venture partnership, as many foreign companies have shown interest,” Bakardjiev said but declined to name them.
Farin has been working on this project for a year. It has conducted wind tests and has a preliminary agreement with state-run power grid operator NEK on connecting the farms to the country's power grid, he explained.
STAYING FOCUSED ON AGRICULTURE
Apart from renewable energy, this year the company will stay focused on agriculture as the global crisis has hit hard construction, another sector in which the group operates, Bakardjiev said.
Farin group, set up in 1997, comprises 28 companies operating in fodder production, trade in agricultural production, construction and furniture, transport, leasing and auto services.
Construction accounts for 5% of the group's annual turnover, which totalled 50 million levs ($33.2 million/25.6 million euro) in 2008, Bakardjiev said.
The company has frozen some of its construction projects, he added but declined to name them or disclose their value.
Farin is considering closing down its wooden door factory, located in the town of Kavarna, in northeastern Bulgaria. The 1.5-million lev factory was opened in 2007.
“It has a monthly turnover of some 40,000 levs. We sell its output in Bulgaria only, but again due to the financial crisis we are currently considering if we should keep the factory operational or shut it down,” Bakardjiev said.
The company has given up then idea to establish a chain of showrooms offering a full range of products and machinery for farmers due to the small market niche for such products in northeastern Bulgaria. The first showroom, worth an estimated 1.1 million euro was planned to be opened by the end of 2008.
“However, we spent the money planned for investment on increasing our arable land,” Bakardjiev said.
Farin has 8,000 hectares of arable land, up from 6,000 hectares in 2007. The company also increased its total storage facilities to 70,000 tonnes, and bought new farming machineries.
“Our projects in the agricultural sector, including the purchase of farm machines, last year alone are worth 4.5 million levs,” Bakardjiev said, adding that 50% of the funding is a bank loan and the remainder is a grant under am EU-funded rural development programme. He added that the company has still not received the grant but that the machines have been delivered and paid.
Farin cultivates barley, maize, sunflower and rape seed, as most of the production is exported to Spain.
“In Bulgaria there is an excess of agricultural production. Only a very small part of our company's production is sold on the domestic market,” Bakardjiev said.
In 2006 Farin issued a 5.0 million euro five-year collateralised bond with a floating rate to re-finance debt and fund investment projects.