Businessman and former local BSP leader Georgi Gergov succeeded the second time overcome the resistance of the local Plovdiv parliament against the scheme to master the Plovdiv fair.
On Monday, the city council decided to support the proposed capital changes of the company “Paldin Turinvest”, in which Gergov and the municipality are co-shareholders. Through this amendment the distribution of power in the company “International Fair Plovdiv” will also change and the businessman will be able in practice to make individual decisions about the fate of the exhibition center.
Gergov’s plan passed with mostly GERB votes and runs from the BSP (the left group broke away after Gergov was expelled from the BSP). Varna Mayor Ivan Portnih (GERB) is also actively participating in the agreement.
This voting setup actually reflects Gergov’s real political influence at the moment – apparently his retained close relationship with GERB leader Boyko Borisov, as well as his control over the left in Plovdiv. He headed the local BSP structure for many years before Cornelia Ninova expelled him from the party. Gergov, however, had already joined President Rumen Radev and managed to place his men in senior positions in the presidential administration.
After the vote on the Fair deal, disgruntled citizens filled the city council chamber with shouts of “Resign.”
A month ago, city councilors voted against the same issue. So Gergov’s deal was narrowly stalled, by 25 votes to 24.
The scheme involves the acceptance of Varna municipality as a partner in “Paldin Turinvest” in exchange for a contribution of local government shares in “International Fair Plovdiv”. Shares that the municipality was supposed to give back to the state years ago, but which it has forgotten, and the state has not sought them out.
Thus, the company “Paldin Tourinvest”, which is a shareholder of the fair, will practically own almost 80% of it, while the state will remain with only 20% and will lose complete control of the company. Decisions on its fate, including on liquidation, will be made by “Paldin Turinvest”, which is controlled by Gergov.
The next step in the implementation of this plan is the acceptance of the new shareholder at a meeting of the general meeting of “Paldin Turinvest”, scheduled for January 9th.
Gergov tried to implement this plan by convening a general meeting for the admission of Varna to “Paldin Turinvest” on November 24th. However, the Plovdiv city council decided to block the deal. The mayors forced the representative of the municipality to vote against the acceptance of a new shareholder (Varna Municipality), as well as against the capital increase with a 29% stake in the shares of “International Fair Plovdiv”, owned by Varna . The blocking quota of the local authority was also triggered to raise capital. Despite the decision of the mayors, at the held session of the general assembly Gergov imposed the change of capital. The solution was contested by the municipality of Plovdivand the case blocked the entry in the commercial register.
Now, in the new general assembly, there will be a vote on these same decisions, and this time the municipality will have no grounds for appeal, and the already closed case will become moot.
There were two identical decisions on the case on the agenda of the city council meeting. Both – the proposal of the administration of mayor Zdravko Dimitrov and advisers of “Democratic Bulgaria” was to repeat the will of the council since November, when Gergov’s deal was blocked. In the room, however, Nikolay Radev of “Authentic BSP claim” he proposed the opposite – that the representative of the municipality support Gergov’s wishes. His motivation was that Plovdiv, which does not hold any shares in the fair, would get a certain ownership of the company through its stake in “Paldin Turinvest”. This company is actually also controlled by Georgi Gergov and the ownership of Plovdiv municipality will be more on paper.
But that didn’t stop 27 city councilors from backing his proposal.
A vote on the report with Radev’s amendments followed, in which the point collected 28 votes “for” – all from BSP and GERB, Ali Bayram from DPS and two from BZNS “Al. Stamboliyski”.
If the capital changes are entered in the commercial register, Gergov will be able to make exclusive decisions on the fate of the fair and the other shareholder of the company, the state, will lose its blocking share.
Opponents of the deal fear that the entrepreneur could also decide to liquidate the company and develop the 340 decarias in the large city center, over which the exhibition pavilions extend. Furthermore, the fair’s functions as an exhibition center have been in decline for years.
According to Veselina Alexandrova, chairwoman of the “Democratic Bulgaria” group, the city councilors have created a legal case. However, she believes there is a chance for the Fair to be saved. “That is why mayor Zdravko Diimitrov should contest the decision he will take at the General Assembly of Palzdin Turinvest on January 9,” believes Aleksandrova, quoted by BNR.