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Solvay Sodi: competitivity pledge to Bulgarian President

At a meeting with the Board of Directors of Solvay Sodi on 19 March 2004, the President of Bulgaria, Georgi Purvanov, thanked the company for its strong social programme, said the President“s Press S…

At a meeting with the Board of Directors of Solvay Sodi on 19 March 2004, the President of Bulgaria, Georgi Purvanov, thanked the company for its strong social programme, said the President“s Press Secretariat. The occasion marked the 50th anniversary of soda ash making in Bulgaria and the 30th anniversary of the Solvay Sodi plant in Devnya, which is one of the largest soda ash plants in the world. Alois Michielsen, Chairman of the Solvay Executive Committee and Deputy Board Chairman at Solvay Sodi, said that Sodi“s 2003 profit is estimated at some BGL 20 million (EUR 10 million). Investments in the plant in 2004 are projected to be BGL 15 million, half of which will be spent on completing a pollution prevention facility, he added. In 1997, the plant had a staff of 2,100 who earned on average BGL 500 a month. Currently, the staff totals only 890, but the average monthly wage exceeds BGL 1,000. Reductions in staff numbers have been achieved by transferring personnel to support activities such as transport and packaging, which have been outsourced, the Board said. According to Michielsen, Sodi“s principal markets are the Middle East and Asia. The immediate challenge facing the company is the strong euro, which Michielsen said is hindering the plant“s competitiveness, while in the longer term, Bulgaria“s accession to the European Union will bring in higher environmental standards. However, Michielsen assured the President that the management will strive to maintain the plant“s competitivity and market position in the face of the challenge presented by Bulgaria“s future EU membership. The first soda ash production plant in Bulgaria based on the Solvay method was built in 1954, to be followed twenty years later by the present facility near the town of Devnya, 25 km from the port city of Varna. Sodi was privatized in 1997 and 92.29% of the capital is held by Solvay Sisecam Holding AG, according to Foreign Investment Agency records. The main shareholders in the holding are Solvay of Belgium, the Turkish glass and chemical giant Sisecam Group, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. During the 19 March 2004 meeting, President Purvanov acclaimed Solvay Sodi as one of Bulgaria“s success stories in privatization. Referring to Sisecam“s plans to build a large glass factory in Turgovishte (north east Bulgaria) the President expressed his appreciation for the commitment shown by the Turkish company. He thanked Solvay for their very strong social programme in the country. The President highlighted the tradition of trade and economic relations between Bulgaria and Belgium and assured the Belgian investor that Bulgarian State institutions would further improve the investment environment, the Press Secretariat said.

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