Balkans business & development news reports.

Balkans business & development news reports.
Put up business or development news about any Balkan country.

Will start will recent reports about Bulgaria I came across.

Sofia Opens Southerneast Europe Support Center of Microsoft

Microsoft has decided to open a software logistics center in Sofia and not in Belgrade.

At an official ceremony on Monday Microsoft's Senior Vice-President Eric Rudder and the Bulgarian ITC Agency signed a memorandum for cooperation mapping out long-term partnership between Bulgaria and the world giant in software developing.

Rudder met also with President Georgi Parvanov in Sofia, where the two discussed ways to boost cooperation in the fields of e-government and online education and training.

According to Georgi Parvanov, Bulgaria is a good destination for investments and has the ambition to develop as a regional center in the ICT sector.

The President was particularly pleased with the fact that Microsoft is setting up a Center for Free Customer Support that would serve the whole South Eastern Europe and Greece.

It is expected to start operating within a year, Eric Rudder announced.

Google Plans to Settle in Bulgaria
World leading web browser Google plans to open permanent offices in Bulgaria, a vice president of the company announced in Sofia.

Vinton Cerf, a Google vice president and one of the "founding fathers" of the Internet, met Wednesday with leaders of Bulgarian IT companies and legislators from the parliamentary body on ICT.

On the sidelines of official meetings, Cerf said Google would prefer that Net neutrality be written into law, but if not, "we will have to wait and see whether or not there actually is any abuse."

Vinton Cerf is visiting Bulgaria at the invitation of President Georgi Parvanov to discuss ways to boost information technology business and Internet access in the country.

"My company, along with many others believes that the Internet should stay open and accessible to everyone equally," Cerf said.

He believed companies like his would be lured and convinced to settle in Bulgaria when they find here developed web services, highly qualified staff and flexible small and medium-size firms.

German Giant Kaufland Steps in Sofia

Germany's retail group Kaufland Stiftung & Co KG started the construction of its second new outlet in the capital Sofia, part of its further plans to step on the local market.

Sofia mayor Boyko Borissov was special guest to the groundbreaking ceremony of the new hypermarket, located in the district of Druzhba. It will open doors for its first customers in December this year.

The first Kaufland hypermarket in Sofia, to open this year, is located in the district of Mladost, creating a total of 200 jobs.

Kaufland is one of three German retail groups that steps on the Bulgarian market, rivalling Billa and Metro hypermarkets, which have already gained good positions in the country.

The company has over 650 hypermarkets in Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria.

Deutsche Bank Opens Sofia Desk, Eyes Key Transport Sectors

On the day of opening a Sofia desk, Deutsche Bank said it was interested in several major transport projects in Bulgaria.

The desk's chief Pavel Ezekiev told journalists Tuesday the Bank had conferred with the concessionaires' of Burgas and Varna's airports - Copenhagen Airports.

He added Deutsche Bank also considers opportunities of financing the projects for construction of Trakiya and Hemus motorways.

Deutsche Bank has officially opened of a new desk in Sofia, chaired by former chief of state investments, Pavel Ezekiev.

The banking institution plans three major undertakings in the field of public-private partnership for the construction of infrastructure projects, it was earlier announced.

At Tuesday's formal opening Deutsche Bank said the work of its Sofia desk will focus on energy, IT and real estate sectors in the country.

Besides development of public-private partnerships, the large banking institution will provide financial services to private clients.

Preneal develop and operate wind farms in their native Spain, and are now looking to expand to Central and Eastern Europe, said Friday.

Pioneer Sofia Enjoys 1st on the Balkans IMAX Cinema

Top news: 12 July 2006, Wednesday.

The unique 3D cinema M-Tel IMAX opened doors in Bulgaria's capital Sofia.

Cinema City International (CCI), featuring the 3D cinema and the first multiplex with 12 halls, was officially inaugurated by Mooky Gredinger, Executive Director of Cinema City International N.V. and Larry O' Reilly, IMAX's Executive Vice President of Theatre Development.

"It's a pleasure for me to inaugurate the first on the Balkans M-Tel IMAX cinema an our first in Bulgaria first multiplex with 12 halls in Bulgaria's largest and modern trade and entertainment centre Mall of Sofia", Mooky Gredinger said.

The IMAX screens and images seen will be up to 18meters high and 24 meters wide, which is 4.5 thousand times bigger than the average-size TV screen. The IMAX screen is almost flat with slight curved edges. The curvature extends beyond the field of peripheral vision due to that the man's field of vision is fully filled by the image.

The amphitheatre-way designed 404-seat enables perfect view at every seat throughout the theatre. The vision screened in IMAX is enhanced by the greatest and specially designed six-channel sound system with loudspeakers suited for IMAX with power up to 14,000 kW.

IMAX has the capacity to display images of far greater size and resolution than conventional film display systems. It is the most successful large-format special-venue film presentation system.

Due to its characteristics M-Tel IMAX Sofia is part of the chain including the most modern cinemas in the world.

In the first month after its opening M-Tel IMAX Sofia will launch its program with the airing of two 3D movies - "Into the Deep" and "T-Rex: Back to the Cretaceous".

Over the next few years CCI intends to establish multiplexes outside Sofia, in other big cities in Bulgaria. The new IMAX cinema will also be the first one constructed for the IMAX technology in Bulgaria and on the Balkans and the seventh one for CCI worldwide.

FINANCIAL TIMES: Bulgarian Resorts Competitive for All Seasons

Top news: 12 July 2006, Wednesday.

Foreign holidaymakers have been rediscovering Bulgaria as a tourism destination, making the tourism industry the country's biggest foreign exchange earner.

It has grown also to one of economy's largest - albeit seasonal - employers, the Financial Times wrote on Wednesday releasing an extensive 4-page report on Bulgaria.

Tourism accounted for as much as 13% of gross domestic product in 2005 and earnings from travel services have been growing steadily since 2001. The number of visitors is also rising - from 3.2 million in 2001 to 4.8 million in 2005.

With one of the world's highest concentrations of hot mineral springs and a centuries-old tradition of herbal therapy, Bulgaria has plenty of potential for developing "wellness" tourism, the report said.

FT quoted Mario Al-Jebouri, the new head of the State Tourism Authority, as acknowledging the country's potential to become a year-round tourist destination.

While the country, struggling to meet its EU deadline for reforms, the Socialist-led three-way coalition government is kept together by its mandate to take Bulgaria into the EU.

Reform of the police, prosecution service and judiciary will take time to become effective, regardless of how much pressure is exerted by Brussels.

While Sofia-based bankers and investors agree the business climate does improve, deals involving the government continue to be fraught with uncertainty, FT concludes.

Bulgaria's Jobless Rate “Lowest in 16 Years”

Politics: 17 July 2006, Monday.

Bulgaria's social minister has boasted a record low level of the jobless rate.

In June, figures were the lowest since 1990, Emilia Maslarova was quoted as saying.

Last month's rate stood at 9.18%, according to the minister.

Maslarova has also said that higher-educated people were the least affected. Bulgarians who have only graduated elementary school end up without a job more often.

BA Makes Varna-London Flights Year-Round

Business: 10 July 2006, Monday.

British Airways announced Monday that its flights from Varna to London's Gatwick will continue to fly throughout the whole year.

The British company opened, the Varna destination in March with two evening flights weekly, on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and added early Monday and Tuesday flights in May to cope with the increased demand over the summer.

The Varna - London line proved quite successful for the company, just as we expected, Emil Delibashev, BA Sales Manager for Bulgaria said.

The two-way ticket costs EUR 160, without airport fees.

All flights will be operated by Boeing 737-400 aircrafts, accommodating 146 passengers each.

Siemens Completes Train Delivery to Bulgaria

Business: 7 July 2006, Friday.

Bulgaria has received the last two diesel trains offered from German engineering giant Siemens.

The contract for 25 of the Desiro machines was signed in the beginning of last year. Siemens had won a public tender for delivering the machines in December 2004.

The trains cost a total of EUR 67 M.

Siemens has also trained the Bulgarian technicians who will be in charge of maintaining the diesel trains.

Desiro are lavishly equipped with electronic information system to be used by passengers, air-conditioning and wheel-chair facilities for disabled people. Speeding up to 120 km/h, the machines correspond to all environmentally friendly standards, being equipped also with differentiated garbage removal bins.