Bulgaria To Sell Stake in Defense Giant Arsenal

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Published: 5 Aug 2011 10:39

SOFIA, Bulgaria – The Bulgarian government put its 36-percent stake in Arsenal Kazanlak, the country’s largest arms and munitions production plant, up for sale on Aug. 5, the privatization agency said in a statement.

The government’s 35.78 percent stake was offered to buyers with experience in the defense or export sectors, with binding bids to be submitted within the next four months.

Arsenal is Bulgaria’s biggest arms and munitions manufacturer and was a licensed producer of Russian Kalashnikov assault rifles during the Cold War.

In recent years, however, the licenses have been a constant bone of contention between Sofia and Moscow, which has accused Bulgaria of counterfeiting the famous AK47.

Its plant, employing more than 5,000 workers, was partly privatized through management and employee buyouts between 1999 and 2001.

About 65 percent is now owned by the private Arsenal 2000 joint-stock company, cited in the Bulgarian media as the most likely buyer of the remaining government stake.

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