The big bite “Panichishte”
The big bite “Panichishte”A consortium between two huge firms from Austria and Italy, which prefer to stay anonymous for now, will invest over 100 million euro for the construction of a new winter resort, which is supposed to compete with Borovets, Pamporovo and Bansko. The new purl of our winter tourism will be in the lately not very well maintained site Panichishte. It is situated on the territory of Sapareva Banya municipal in the north- western part of Rila. “Rila sport”, the firm which will take major part in the investment expenses and which is representing the still anonymous Austrians and Italians- has already bought 200 decares land from Sapareva banya municipal. In five years it is going to build hotel complexes with at least 4000 beds. The firm also bought the rights for one of the ski pistes in the complex and plans to equip it with a modern lift. 14 super- modern alpine pistes with a capacity of 4 500 skiers, are planed to be build together with a cabin lift from Sapareva banya to Panichishte, which probably will reach Kabul peak. It is situated very close to the famous Seven Rila lakes. The way “Rila sport” bought the 200 decares land, where it will build its hotels, is very doubtful. The only competitor of “Rila sport” for now is “Ukon- Sofia”, which is supported by Russian capital. It already bought and reconstructed two hotels in Panichishte and one in Sapareva banya. Their capacity is almost 300 beds. There are around 10 hotels in Panichishte, but most of them are small and not very well maintained. In April last year the municipal council of Sapareva banya sold the huge part of land to “Rila sport”. The 200 decares land is more that 1/5 of the whole land on Panichishte owned by the municipal. The municipal owned a total amount of land of 980 decares. The offer by the mayor Sasho Ivanov was supported by 12 out of the 13 municipal advisers in Sapareva Banya. The transaction was made without an auction or competition. According to the old Law for the municipal property, which was totally changed in November 2004, was found a gate which allows the municipal to give the land to private firms for the development of the infrastructure. The councils voted “Rila sport” to pay 2,8 million BGN for three years. The money has to cover the repairment of the streets as well as the drainage system. The bills show that “Rila sport” bought the land for 14 BGN per square meter. Nobody can say for sure how real this price is. The municipal did not find it necessary to take advice from property agencies, neither to acquire assessment from licensed assessor. “The price is not low, it was even over the market price by that time”- said the mayor of Sapareve banya Sasho Ivanov. Now the terrains are a lot more expensive, but this is due to the fact that “Rila sport” started the project. When people discovered that something grand is about to happen in the region that might compete with Borovets and Bansko many businessmen started looking for lands in the region. The rising of prices is normal under these circumstances. “Rila Sport” also claims to have paid everything legal. “We even paid over the market price, just to make sure that the municipal won’t be accused in illegal actions”, explained Tichomir Trendafilov, who is one of the owners of the firm. If everything is so legal, why the municipal didn’t sell those 200 decares on an auction as is usually practiced. These questions are asked by the local people and enterprisers, who also want to invest in Panichishte. Sasho Ivanov explained:”We decided not to make an auction, because we were afraid of fake firms, who want to take part in the auction just to dispute in front of the court the results from the auction. This could stop the project for two- three years ahead.” According to well- informed people, this result is good for the large owners of equipment and hotel complexes in Bansko and Borovets. They do not like the idea of the construction of another ski resort in the southwestern part of Bulgaria. The owners of “Rila sport” support the claims of the mayor Sasho Ivanov. Together with the municipal they decided to escape from the auction, just to get over the endless court procedures. Who stands behind “Rila sport” is still just a legend. The owners of the company with equal shares of 50% are Tihomir Ivanov Trendafiolv and Dobromira Valerieva Teneva- Dashkova, shows the verification of the information system DAKSI. Tihomir Trendafilov is a famous lawyer from Sofia. His name became popular with the second procedure for the privatization of Bulgartabak. He was then representative of one of the four candidates of the tobacco holding- the Russian bank “Odencovo”, which during the privatization procedure was renamed into “Regional perspective”. The failure of the attempt for the privatization of “Bulgartabac” gave birth to numerous gossips. Some considered it as the hidden ace of Michael Chorny, others claimed that the Russian president is standing behind it. At the end “Regional perspective” gave the weakest price offer for “Bulgartabac”, although its offers for the development of the tobacco industry, the investments in the production of cigarettes and the programme for the preserving of working places in “Bulgartabac” were the best. After the court removal of “Tobacco capital partners” from the horizon, came the opportunity for the “Regional perspective” to buy “Bulgartabac” but then the ministry decided to close the procedure. According to well- informed people, no matter how rich Tichomir Trendafilov is, after all 100 million is a lot of money and there is someone who supports him for sure. According to one of the gossips the money will be provided from the ex- minister of transport Plamen Petrov. He was long ago in love with Panichishte, every year he goes to the resort several times to ski on extreme places. Very often together with his classmates he stayed at the Seven Rila Lakes Chalet. "I know very well Plamen and I have asked him to invest in Panichishte many times", said the ex- mayor of Sapareva banya, Cvetan Dimev. He has the opportunity. You know that he is married to the daughter of Canadian multi- millionaire. It won’t be a surprise if the money really comes from him.” Plamen Petrov, who now is the representative of Bulgaria in the Black sea bank, was not found to comment this. Tihomir Trendafilov denied the participation of the ex- minister in the project. “Rila sport” will probably not receive the right to have a monopoly in Panichishte. The municipal now has almost 800 thousand decares of land. The assessments show that this land is enough for the construction of 15 thousand beds. The plan of the mayor Sasho Ivanov is the lands to be sold to private investors, on an auction this time. The appetite towards the land is probably going to attract the big fishes in the tourism industry. It is gossiped the brother of the financial minister- George is interested in the region.Interviews Tihomir Trendafilov, the head of the board of directors of "Rila sport": We will invest 100 million euro - Mr. Trendafilov, how did you decide to invest so much money to transform Panichishte in one of the most modern Bulgarian resorts? - We listened to the advice of our Austrian consultants, who assessed the incredible potential for development of Panichishte. - How much money do you plan to invest? People talk about 30 million euro. - 30 million euro is just the first investment in the hotel accommodation, ski pistes and ski equipment. The whole investment will probably be around 100 million euro. - Who will supply those investments? - The investors. - Who are they? - This is a consortium of Austrian and Italian firms. At this stage I would not like to say their names. I can just say that one of them is very serious institutional and the other is a financial investor. The ski equipment supplier is Dopplemayer- a world leader in the industry that supplied Bansko with equipment. The detailed project for the construction of the complex of hotels is now being prepared by another Austrian firm “Ecosign”. It has made the projects for many modern ski centers in Austria, USA, Switzerland, Norway, Finland and other countries. - Have the investors build other similar projects for winter resorts? - Yes in many European countries. The mayor Sasho Ivanov: We didn't need an auction -Mr. Ivanov, the price for the 200 decares that you have sold to “Rila sport” is 2,8 million BGN. How did you define it? - We sold it on the price of the land in Panichishte for that period- we are talking about March, April last year. The price which “Rila sport paid is the market price of the land”. - The square meter turns to be 14 BGN. At the moment the land in Panichishte is sold for 30- 50 euro per square meter. Don’ t you think that there is a big difference between the prices? - The truth is that the price of the land in the region went high because of the rumors for the serious investments of “Rila sport”. Before that the prices were very low. - Why didn’t you use the services of property agency or licensed assessor? - We decided that this is not necessary. - Why didn’t you make an auction for the transaction of those 200 decares? -We didn’t need one. “Rila sport” was the only one interested in investments in Panichishte. After we finished the transaction the other investors came. All this is nice, but where were they before that?
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