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    MOSCOW, February 2, 2004. (RIA Novosti correspondent Yevgenia Yakuta) - Vice Premier and Finance Minister of the Russian Federation Alexei Kudrin expressed concern that the RAO Unified Energy Systems (UES) of Russia could not take part in the tender for privatising the energy facilities in Bulgaria.

    As Kudrin told reporters, this theme was discussed on Monday at the meeting with Bulgarian Prime Minister and Finance Minister Lydia Shuleva.

    "The Russian company's application for taking part in the tender was declined, and we are trying to find out for what reason," Kudrin said.

    "It seems strange to us that one of the leading companies in Europe which supplies electric energy to Europe and will take part in the tenders in other countries was not able to participate in the Bulgarian tender," the Russian Vice Premier said.

    According to him, he received detailed explanations on this score from the Bulgarian Vice Premier and intends to continue studying this question.

    Kudrin added that the Russian companies contend for participation in the privatisation of a number of enterprises in Bulgaria, mostly energy facilities, such as electric stations.

    In the autumn of 2003, the Bulgarian Privatisation Agency announced the sale of 67 percent of the shares of each of the country's distributing companies.

    Under the terms of the tender, the authorised capital of the participants should amount to at least 700 million euros and the annual output - to at least 700 gigawatt-hours of electric energy. The long-term credit rating must be at the level not lower than BB /on the Standart and Poor's scale).

    In the autumn of 2003, the Board of Directors of the RAO Unified Energy Systems of Russia approved the company's participation in the Bulgarian tender and an appropriate application was sent to the Bulgarian Privatisation Agency.

    However, in the middle of January 2004, the RAO Unified Energy Systems of Russia stopped its participation in the privatisation tender in Bulgaria.

    "We did not correspond to the tender requirements, our credit rating is lower than was required," a spokesman for the press service of the energy holding company explained to RIA Novosti. "For this reason we have recalled our application."

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