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330. Utrinski Vesnik: Bulgarian independence has nothing to do with Macedonia

Focus: 2008-12-25

Bulgaria insists to celebrate certain holidays together with Macedonia, the Macedonian historian Ivan Katardzhiev said in an interview with the Utrinski Vesnik daily.

According to him the fact that the Bulgarian Prime Minister Sergey Stanishev has marked 100 years of Bulgarian independence is a result of a policy, conducted from the middle of the 90s of the last century, when Bulgaria insists to celebrate some holidays with Macedonia thus confirming the thesis that the two are one whole.

This is nonsense, we want cooperation and holidays but after some conditions are met, Katardzhiev said.

329. Plovdiv University teaches language students hints to job success

Sofia Echo: 2008-12-19

Philology students at Plovdiv University Paisii Hilendarski are receiving training in business skills from industry professionals in a new university programme, a press statement on December 15 2008 read. The first lecture takes place on December 16.

Themes of instruction include how to increase one's market competitiveness and how to succeed at multinational companies, with a particular focus on technology. The goals is to expand concepts of professional possibilities in the current economic situation, University vice-dean of the philology faculty Petya Burkalova said. She was also down as saying that she expected the courses to be beneficial to students learning Polish, Czech, French, German, Greek and English.

Moin Kazi, group manager of global and strategic operations at Sutherland Global Services, and Petko Mirchev, head manager of human resources management company Bulwork, will be talking about the possibilities at modern IT companies and introducing students to European practices and how they fit into the puzzle.

This lecture comes as the start of a new project at Plovdiv University that aims to acquaint young people with the requirement of the labour market and actual offers and possibilities available.

328. Construction on Mega Mall Lyulin starts

Wise Property: 2008-12-18

Construction on Mega Mall Lyulin, at the intersection on Blvd Tsaritsa Ioanna and Blvd Dobrinova Skala, has started. Initial work for the mall will focus on building the infrastructure linking it with the metro station, as the construction company is contemplating a direct link between metro station Zapaden Park and the mall's underground parking lot.

Mega Mall is set to open for business in October 2010, spanning four levels, with a 24 000 sq m area available for rent. Last month it was announced that the Slovenian trading company Mercator has signed a contract to rent a total of 3054 sq m in the new mall, as reported by Investor.bg.

The main investor in Mega Mall Lyulin is the Austrian company for real estate investment Real 4 You Immobilen GmbH, via its daughter company Magnum Bulgaria GAMMA Ltd. The consulting company, which offers parcels for rent in the mall, is Raifaizen Imoti EOOD, and the total investment in the project so far has been estimated at 55 million euro.

The portfolio of Real 4 You consists of more than 100 projects. These include hypermarkets, trading parks and centres, eight real estate complexes, four office buildings and six hotels valued at a total of more than one billion euro. The company operates in Austria, Croatia, Hungary, Slovakia and Czech Republic and, now, Bulgaria.

327. Bulgaria ranks sixth in demand for real estate

Sofia Echo: 2008-12-17

English-language countries have shown a remarkable interest in Bulgarian property, according to data from Globaledge.co.uk, which has more than 1.4 million international orders for real estate from around the world.

The analysis is based on demand from the English-speaking world (UK, USA, Australia, Ireland and Canada), and the information was categorised and processed for each country and dates from September until December 2008.

The English speaking world's love affair with Spain continues with Spanish real estate by far the most desired. Tenerife, Majorca and the Costa Blanca are all more popular destinations than Paris or most French destinations, bearing in mind that France occupies second places.

Perhaps the biggest surprise in the research is Portugal, which ranks last of the 11 countries listed. Having accumulated only a meagre three per cent of votes from clients and having only generated three per cent of interest for purchase, Spain's sunny neighbour is at the bottom of the pit. Portugal not only lags significantly behind other traditional destinations such as Spain, France and Italy, but recent reports indicate that Portugal's real estate in 2008 became increasingly expensive, losing its competitive edge in the process.

The Middle East ranks fourth with 8.6 per cent of total demand volume. Over 70 per cent of the applications for real estate in the Middle East are all centred around one particular area Dubai.

Central and South America are ranked fifth with eight per cent of total demand on the Internet. Panama is the most popular destination with 20 per cent, followed by Mexico with 11.4 per cent.

Bulgaria ranks sixth out of eleven, with 7.2 per cent interest. Seventh place is occupied by Cyprus with 7.1 per cent followed by the Caribbean with 5.6 per cent. Jamaica was the regional leader with 12.9 per cent of the pie, followed by the Dominican Republic with 6.6 per cent.Eastern Europe is ninth, with 5.4 per cent and Turkey is tenth with 4.6 per cent.

The analysis is extrapolated from a database of clients in the United Kingdom, USA, Australia, Ireland and Canada, countries that do not themselves participate in this particular list.

326. US company AES invests in Bulgarian power engineering

News BG: 2008-12-16

The start of the American investment of the company AES in Bulgarian power engineering was given in the presence of Premier Sergey Stanishev and the US ambassador in Bulgaria Nancy McEldowney.

The project plans the construction and exploitation of a wind park near Kavarna, which will add another 156 megawatts to the Bulgarian power engineering of renewable sources.

This will take place in an extremely short period of time - the end of 2009, the beginning of 2010, Stanishev pointed out.

He emphasized that the invested 240 million Euro are very significant for the Bulgarian economy and especially encouraging, that this happens now, when in the whole world there is a financial and economic crisis.

AES is the biggest industrial investor in Bulgaria since 1989, as their investments reach 1.2 billion Euro in the new capacity of the electric power station "Maritza Iztok", the Prime Minister pointed out.

325. Sofia office vacancy rate could reach 10% by year-end - report

Wise Property: 2008-12-15

After a calm first half of the year, about 65 000 sq m of class A and B office space hit the market in Sofia in the third quarter of 2008, which could drive the office vacancy rate in the Bulgarian capital, financial news website investor.bg reported on December 12, quoting a survey by consultancy firm MBL.

The overall amount of office space in Sofia now stands at 874 100 sq m, of which 81 per cent is outside the immediate city centre.

Construction activity during the period was high despite the developing global financial crisis and there was no change in the amount of new office buildings being built in the third quarter. In JulySeptember, several large-scale projects were initiated, combining for over 750 000 sq m of office space, of which 75 per cent were in the Sofia suburbs, and 21 per cent in the wide central area of Sofia and the rest in the Sofia city center.

By the end of 2008, the total volume of office space in Sofia will reach 970 000 sq m, should all current construction be completed on schedule.

The global financial crisis, however, did not completely bypass the sector as some large-scale projects have been delayed, others temporarily frozen and others still, scrapped altogether.

Several reasons explain why a large share of the office space in the Bulgarian capital is left unoccupied bad location, poor infrastructure, no connection with the urban transport, and the financial crisis itself, as companies don not have resources to employ new staff. This rings particularly true for office space in the suburbs of Sofia, where vacancies have more than doubled, reaching 9.2 per cent. In the wide central area, however, there were no changes observed, and the vacancies remain at 3.2 per cent, where as in the Sofia city centre proper, vacancies have shrunk from 1.8 per cent to 1.6 per cent.

Overall, the vacancy rate for the city rose from 3.8 per cent at end-June to 6.5 per cent in September.

The average monthly rent for class A offices in the suburbs of Sofia was around 15.5 euro a sq m, but with the vast supply of new offices from to constant construction, prices have fallen by 15 per cent in several districts. The average rent in the city centre proper however, has registered a significant increase, in some cases of up to 23 per cent, with the current prices going from 22 to 28 euro a sq m.

The investment market at the moment has literary frozen still and transactions with offices in the third trimester were not registered at all, investor.bg said. Meanwhile, the banks have virtually frozen financing and refinancing, in expectation for a better outlook, which meant that deals could be done only by investors with a large amount of disposable capital ready for investment.

324. A lot of surprises from the "Santa Bass" party on Dec 19

News BG: 2008-12-14

The jungle Drum n' Bass party "Santa Bass" will be held on December 19, the organizers from H.M.S.U announced.

Some of the hottest names in the world's drum n' bass scene will be presented in the 4km Party Centre.

Among them are Benny Page, with his melodic covers, Demolition Man and Top Cat - the microphone's titans together with their Norwegian drum n' bass producer Psychofreud.

Benny Page is best known with his Shy FX releases, with which he won the MTV award for the most progressive drum n' bass DJ.

The talented Norwegian Psychofreud left wonderful memories after all his three visits in Bulgaria.

The H.M.S.U. organizers will once again present the original setup with joint sound in the two halls.

The audience will receive warm tea and free access to playstation 3.

The tickets for the party can be purchased at 20 leva in the Ticketpro network, as well as in the Corporide, Breakpoint, Djukian Meloman stores. Tickets will cost 25 leva at the gates.

323. Nicole Kidman to arrive as UN ambassador of goodwill in Plovdiv

Frog News: 2008-12-13

Kidman plans to visit Plovdiv in the summer of 2009, informed Milena Kadieva of the local branch of the Bulgarian Center for Gender Studies. She was the only Bulgaria at the UN World Summit in New York, dedicated to the issue of violence against women.

Kadieva presented a report on violence against women in the Balkan region. The UN initiative will continue for 16 days (until December 10) and aims to raise awareness about violence. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon is leading the campaign, United against violence against women. The Project financing fund raised 20 million dollars and the sum will be appropriated next year. NGOs in Plovdiv are campaigning to adopt the Bill on gender equality and amendments to the Act on domestic violence. Kidman stated that counteracting violence should become a global priority because it affects one in three women worldwide.

322. Real estate value the vicious spiral

Sofia Echo: 2008-12-11

There has been a significant decrease in demand for real estate in the last few months, with property prices in Bulgaria registering a slump in value throughout. The official statistic is that as late as September 2008, real estate was still registering the sporadic rise in value, but the overall trend in the country is expected to see a drop of as much as 27 per cent on average. The data from the fourth trimester will most probably show the stagnation of the market in its realistic form, as opposed to what is being received now as feed back from the third trimester, according to Industry Watch, as quoted by weekly Stroitelstvo Gradut.

Most importantly, it is necessary to determine what is the significance in terms of numbers and the situation of real estate loans for the economy. Theoretically, the bigger the share of mortgage financing, the bigger the eventuality in occasional slumps in the market of real estate, meaning that the net real estate value could be negative the volume of mortgages exceeds the market price of the houses) or the loan to value ration could exceed 100 per cent.

In spite of the credit expansion registered in the past few years in Bulgaria, real estate loans as percentage of the total economy of the country is more than three times less than the average in other European Union member states. Accordingly, should there be an eventual exasperation of the economic crisis, and additional shrinkage of the real estate market in particular, the overall negative effect for the consumer and the impact on the savings of the populace being far worse in the eurozone than in Bulgaria.

Moreover, it is vital to determine what is the average percentage of bank financing of real estate either for purchase or for refinancing which is done through loans, in the Bulgarian economy. The correlation between the loan of a house as opposed to the actual value of a house could present a potential problem, as it is likely to alter the behaviour of the borrower. Should the prices fall considerably, and impose a negative net value of the house, the borrower might decide that it is better to leave the house to the bank without paying off the mortgage, by deciding that he is better off renting a house or opting to purchase a new house altogether offered on the market at a significantly lower price. This behaviour of the consumers is quite rational; however, it creates an even sharper decline in prices, in turn.

The negative effect on the economy (all other parameters being equal), is stronger, with a drastic decline in the value of the real estate, with a large supply of housing for sale and with the presence of an initial period with reduced conditions for servicing the loan. The risk will not be equally distributed, instead, it concentrates in a particular group of people those who purchase on top when the real estate value has reached its summit.

On the background of insecurity regarding the income growth in the country, and the direction of the prices for real estate, the banks partially restrict the crediting of consumers in the sector. The more conservative behaviour of banks reduces the risk of eventual problems, not only for the financial system and the borrowers, but for the economy as a whole.

321. Japan presents Bulgaria with museums' site

Sofia Echo: 2008-12-10

By signing the certificate the Japanese Agency for International Cooperation donated to the MInisrty of Culture the righths for use, management and development of the site, containing detailed information for Bulgaria's museums, which can successfully be used by tourists, wanting to learn more about Bulgarian culture.

It will contain useful information for all Bulgarian cities' museums in Bulgarian, English and Japanese.

Stefan Danailov notes that the site will be extremely useful to Bulgarians, as well.

The minister also announced that next year there will be a 50 years anniversary since the beginning of the diplomatic relationship between Bulgaria and Japan and many cultural events will note that event.

Among them will be a visit of the Bulgarian president Georgi Parvanov to Japana, where he will open a Thracian treasures exhibition.

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