A total of 13 new companies have entered this year's K100 ranking of the largest companies in Bulgaria in 2021. Most of them are electricity and gas traders, but there are also two manufacturers.
There are some new names, but many of them are related, or owned by very well-known figures in Bulgarian business.
Axpo Bulgaria is the newest company in the ranking of the largest companies in Bulgaria. It ranks at 21st place with a turnover of a whopping BGN 988 million. It is a subsidiary of Axpo - the largest energy company in Switzerland, which is owned by local officials.
The parent group has a turnover of almost 5 billion Swiss francs and is an electricity producer, but also a global trader of electricity and gas. About two years ago, Bulgaria was selected for wholesale trading of energy derivatives for the region. Only a small part of the turnover is from transactions made in the country; most are in Central and Eastern Europe. It currently has about 100 employees with the number gradually growing.
Agro Board once almost touched the billion mark with revenues of BGN 978 million. This relatively unrecognized company occupies first place in the agricultural sector's rankings. According to the sole owner of Agro Board, financial expert Tsanko Kolovski, the company buys grain from Ukraine and exports it to markets in Asia and Africa. When asked how exactly he entered the sector, he replied that he had good contacts in the now war-torn country.
Sadly, the thriving business shuddered to a halt this February when Russia invaded Ukraine. Now the grain could be transported only by land and it is unprofitable, said the owner, who, at least for now, is not planning any deals on the Bulgarian agricultural market. Kolovski is also a shareholder in the investment intermediary MK Brokers, and a few years ago he was on the management board of Bulgarian Investbank.
MET Energy Trading Bulgaria entered Bulgaria in 2019, but is already a major player in the local energy sector. The Swiss holding company, which has had Hungarian owners and Russian ties in the past, has become more visible this year along with its natural gas import brokerage. MET has a major role in the electricity and gas market in the region and the country, which also explains the revenues - BGN 730 million. The company was also the only one other than Russia's Gazprom Export that reserved gas transmission capacity in Turkish Stream through Bulgaria. Through its subsidiary company - MET Renewables Holding, it also bought the fifth largest wind farm in Bulgaria - that of Enel Green Power Bulgaria, near Kavarna, with a capacity of 42 megawatts. And since the middle of 2022, it has also owned a wind power plant in Suvorovo.
Energo-pro energy services, which is the electricity trader of the Czech Energo-pro, was on the verge of falling off the ranking last year, but in the new ranking it has risen sharply to 40th place. A major part of the business is selling electricity to businesses and the free market. The other company from the Czech group in the country, Energo-Pro Sales, supplies electricity in North-Eastern Bulgaria.
The electricity trader EVN Trading South East Europe is, as the name suggests, part of the Bulgarian business of the Austrian EVN, which holds the electricity supply in South-Eastern Bulgaria. Like the entire sector, high prices fueled profits, enabling it to surge in the ranking.The trader, at least in the previous year, was most active in Bulgaria, but according to its website it trades also in six other European countries: Germany, Greece, Macedonia, Romania, Serbia and Hungary.
Nomad Energy Companies is a newly registered company. And it is an electricity dealer, and although it is formally owned by Maria Sevdalinova-Stoeva, all indications point to the company being in the orbit of Bulgarian energy kingpin Hristo Kovachki. And it seems to have replaced his former company Grand Energy Distribution, which has apparently gone bankrupt. Nomad started operating in May last year and made a turnover of BGN 680 million by the end of last year alone. It is clear that Kovachki is behind the endeavor due to the company being rented at his property and the largest contracts signed are with companies from his group. The report shows that there is a long-term contract for the purchase of electricity with the Bobov Dol TPP associated with Kovachki.
With revenues topping BGN 662 million, businessman Georgi Samuilov's Insa Port has risen to the first 50 in the top 100. Samuilov's group has had a representative in the ranking for years - Insa Oil, which imports fuels from Russia and refines them in Rakovski, and unlike its competitors, it does not comply with the requirement to keep legal fuel reserves. Insa Port itself owns an oil storage base in Ruse with terminals for servicing rail, road and river transport.
BTL Industries is a new manufacturer. It produces medical equipment for physiotherapy, cardiology and aesthetics. The huge growth in 2021 to a turnover topping half a billion BGN comes from the sales of beauty machinery during the pandemic.
Bulmarket DM is a trader of fuels, mainly propane-butane, in the large group of Ruse companies founded by Stanko Stankov. He started the business 26 years ago and today his companies have a total turnover topping BGN 4 billion.
Until last year, state-owned Avtomagistrali was merely on the threshold of the top 100. However, this year it managed to enter at 83rd position with a turnover of almost BGN 420 million. The company is like a distribution power broker for state money - it repairs highways (for example, the tunnels of Hemus, the repair of Trakia, the maintenance of Struma), as well as the construction of the new part of Hemus, the road Botevgrad - Vidin and strengthening of landslides. These activities, worth almost BGN 4 billion, were handed to them by the GERB party over the years without competition.
Plovdiv bicycle manufacturer Maxcom has almost reached a turnover of BGN 400 million, probably because of the boom in e-bikes. The company, together with its Austrian partner, started building a new factory for BGN 80 million near Plovdiv.
The Dimitrovgrad fertilizer plant Neochim raises revenues in parallel with the growth in gas and electricity prices. The company makes more than half of its sales in the country, and the rest is exported. The main owners of the Bulgarian stock exchange company are several local companies, and 20% is held by the Austrian Borealis, which is one of the largest producers of fertilizers in Europe. The other local producer of fertilizers - Agropolyhim - is bigger and has been in the ranking for years.
European Trade of Energy is the second company from the orbit of Hristo Kovacki for electricity trading (after Nomad Energy Companies), to have entered the top 100 this year. It had already climbed to the arrangement in 2019, but then scaled back operations, likely at the expense of Grand Energy Distribution.