High-level shifts in BEH - a necessary measure or an attempt to control energy

Energy / Bulgaria
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Struggle to control energy. This is evident from the processes that have been going on in this sector for many years. Now it is happening again - the head of the company has been replaced, changes have been made to the board of directors. Most likely there are reasons for this - the problems in the sector are many, in terms of electricity prices Bulgaria ranks among the most expensive in Europe, no idea what will be done in the energy complex Maritsa East, state-owned companies are donors of business aid, remember the problems with the state TPP Maritsa East 2, which led to low liquidity on the stock exchange and started the price jump, etc. - a clear example of how bad the state is, especially in the energy sector.

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And all this is happening against the background of a deep energy crisis in the world, threatening to sink Bulgaria, which has been in the grip of a serious political and financial crisis for months. To top it off, energy experts are still wondering why a company in dire financial straits like TPP Maritza East 2 also owns a football team. In practice, part of BEH's financial injections go indirectly in support of Bulgarian football.

The new staff surprises in the energy sector obviously do not recognize and do not solve the problems in the companies or those of the consumers. Nobody raises the issue of the National Electricity Company (NEC), although for years there has been the issue of a tariff deficit of several billion levs, which cannot be simply erased with accounting tricks. Nobody talks about the problems faced by Kozloduy NPP due to the transfer of BGN 450 million for a temporary solution to the problem of electricity prices for businesses. Not that business should not be supported. You should, but there are more sensible ways. No one is talking about the losses of electricity companies - a result of drastically higher electricity on the stock exchange, where ERCs are forced to buy electricity for their technological losses and low prices, which the Energy and Water Regulatory Commission recognizes as an expense under this item. Thus, the losses of the three companies that supply electricity to the regulated market for households have already swelled to several hundred million levs in just one month or two.

The struggle to control energy is not a precedent. It is a precedent that this is happening at a time when our country is on the verge of a long and unpredictable winter in the process of deepening energy crisis.

It has been said for many years that the Bulgarian Energy Holding (BEH) is a kind of refuge for creatures of one or another government, that it is a mechanism for controlling the processes in energy companies on the one hand, and on the other - a "piggy bank" and a political stick. That is why the struggle for control of the Bulgarian energy always starts from there.

Today, when BEH is already on the international markets, when electricity prices are rising at a steady pace, when decisions must be made now to continue the process of liberalization of the electricity market in order to protect citizens from a sharp jump in prices, the situation is different. And personnel changes must be made with clear arguments and with the setting of specific goals and control over their implementation. Therefore, it would be good for the change to be made by a regular government with a functioning parliament. It is crucial for all experts and for us as consumers that the people appointed to the board of directors of the financial holding have clear goals and positions, and that they are respected in the long run. This will increase the confidence in the work of BEH both among investors and the government and the people.

In the analysis "The first two years since the adoption of a law on public enterprises in Bulgaria", published recently by the Institute for Market Economics, the author Dr. Petya Georgieva gives clear recommendations for state-owned enterprises in general. BEH is present among them and this analysis is extremely useful and part of the solution. It does not in any way mean "mastering". You can see the IME analysis itself below.

How BEH has changed over the years

The last change of director of the holding was in 2020, when Jacqueline Cohen was the head. He himself comes and goes from the chief post in BEH several times.

His previous dismissal was from Minister Temenuzhka Petkova in 2016. A year later, she again appointed him to manage the Kozloduy NPP. According to experts, Cohen's dismissal five years ago was due to a delay in using the loan with which the holding had to repay payments to NEC under long-term contracts with US TPPs.

 In 2014, the head of the holding was Ivan Yonchev, but in the summer, due to a medical intervention, he was replaced and Jacqueline Cohen took over the position of director. Cohen was then tasked with the difficult task of terminating the contract with Westinghouse for the construction of the Seventh Unit at Kozloduy. It was never officially signed. Again in this period Cohen also became the head of the project company South Stream Bulgaria, after he had to replace Ivan Yonchev there as well.

If we go back a little earlier, the castling in BEH was political again. In 2013, the then Minister of Energy Dragomir Stoynev changed the entire management of the holding. At that time were led by Mihail Andonov, Bojan Stoyanov and Todor Shopov. Then the stars of Boyan Boev and eng. Georgi Hristozov rose, who entered the management of the holding directly from the circles of TPP "Maritsa East 2".

Andonov spent about a year as head of BEH, being appointed by former Energy Minister Delyan Dobrev. Prior to that, in 2012, Yordan Georgiev was in office. Only a year earlier, another minister, Traicho Traikov, had appointed Georgiev to the post. Minister Traikov was not satisfied with the work of Maya Hristova as head of BEH.

The stable management of BEH is also important for the bond issues of the holding. Investors are always calmer and more generous when they know in the long run what goals and missions the professional management of the company will fulfill.

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