Bulgaria's privatisation and post-privatisation control agency has launched a tender to privatise the cargo unit of railway operator BDZ Tovarni Prevozi.
The tender for the freight unit has initially attracted investors from Austria, Russia, Spain and Turkey, and is expected to raise $128m-$160m from the sale.
The rail operator intends to clear at least the interest on its existing debts that stood at BGL743m ($478m) at the end of April 2012 and secure a new loan from the World Bank.
The cargo unit is said to be a profit-making venture for BDZ, which has been experiencing severe financial problems and had carried out reforms, including cutting down on passenger trains and personnel in 2011.
Bulgaria proposed the idea to sell the rail freight in late 2009, but could not make it a success as potential investors from Germany and Austria withdrew their bids due to the economic downturn in Europe.
According to Bulgaria's privatisation agency, binding bids should be filed by potential investors on the 135th day after the tender notice is published in the State Gazette or around the end of October / early November 2012.
Being the largest rail freight operator in the country, BDZ Tovarni Prevozi operates 220 locomotives, runs a total fleet of 4,859 rail cars, employs over 4,000 people and handled 11.57 million tonnes of freight in 2011.