Hellenic Exchanges still Еyeing Sofia Bourse Stake

Hellenic Exchanges, the holding company that controls the Greek spot and derivatives market, is still interested in the divestiture of the state-owned 44% in the Bulgarian Stock Exchange, Spyros Capralos, the chairman of Hellenic Exchanges and also the chairman of its subsidiary the Athens Exchange (ASE), tells Thomson Financial News in an exclusive interview, Dnevnik a.m. reports.

'Initially the government was very keen on privatisation but since then the process has slowed, and just last week the management of the BSE chose to use the trading platform of the German stock exchange, which was disappointing. We are still interested because given the very strong presence of Greek banks and corporations in Bulgaria, since we feel that we too can also contribute very meaningfully to the financial services sector there.'

A week ago, the BSE board picked Deutsche Boeorse's Xetra platform over a competing offering from Nordic exchanges operator OMX in a move that many observers said made the German stock exchange a shoe-in for the disposal of the state-owned BSE equity.

However, BSE chairman Viktor Papazov has said that striking a strategic partnership with Deutsche Boerse would not necessarily mean that the German operator would have a better chance of opening the exchange as well.

Papazov said that the bourse had initially considered modernising its outdated trading platform by finding a strategic investor to acquire the state's 44 percent controlling stake in the exchange.

Exchanges in Frankfurt, Stockholm, Athens, Nicosia, Vienna, Milan, Warsaw and Prague have expressed an interest in the deal.

But Papazov said strong lobbying interests that followed had threatened to bog down the process and delay the exchange's development. The Bulgarian stock exchange plans to seal the strategic partnership with Deutsche Boerse by early November, Papazov added.

The Warsaw Stock Exchange, OMX, Borsa Italiana and the Prague and Vienna exchange operators are also eyeing the BSE stake.

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