Delyan Peevski said on March 21 2016 that he was pulling out of the planned acquisition of an insolvent fertiliser plant and abandoning “future business ventures”, blaming the “unjustified political pressure and continued media campaign against me” for his decision.
Peevski – best known in Bulgaria as the media mogul whose short-lived appointment as head of the State Agency for National Security in June 2013 sparked mass protests that ultimately brought down the administration of Plamen Oresharski, albeit not until MRF withdrew its support in June 2014 – said in a media statement that he wanted to “prevent the destruction of any potential business partner that would be branded as ‘linked to Peevski’.”
In January, NCN Investments asked for regulatory approval to purchase the assets of the Khimko chemical plant in the town of Vratsa, in northwestern Bulgaria, for 11.7 million leva. Khimko was one of the largest employers in the town during the communist era, but also the biggest polluter in the area; it was declared insolvent in 2012, but the plant has been out of operation since 2002, reports in Bulgarian media said.
Peevski owns 90 per cent in NCN Investments, having disclosed last year a number of stakes in Bulgarian and foreign companies. Media reports, however, have routinely linked him to other companies – such as one of the winners of a motorway construction tender, which was cancelled last month – although Peevski has denied such ties.
One of the most notable stakes held by NCN Investments is five per cent in former state tobacco monopoly Bulgartabac (Peevski’s critics claim that he owns the company outright through shell companies), which Peevski said earlier this month that he would sell.
A statement by an investment intermediary on March 18 prompted some Bulgarian media to speculate that such a deal was carried out, but the reports were based just on the size of the stake, since the intermediary did not disclose the names of the seller or buyer.
In the past, Peevski also had close ties to Tsvetan Vassilev, the former majority shareholder in now-insolvent Corporate Commercial Bank, but that relationship unravelled in 2014, at roughly the same time that the lender asked to be put under the special supervision of the central bank.
Last month, reports in Turkish media also claimed that Peevski was banned from entering Turkey, with Star daily describing him as being “close to Russian oligarchs” and “emperor of smuggled cigarettes”.
(Delyan Peevski speaking to reporters in May 2014, on the night of European Parliament elections. Peevski declined to take an MEP seat, choosing instead to remain a member of Bulgarian Parliament. Screengrab from Bulgarian National Television.)