Chinese investors plan to spend about 270 million euros ($294 million) to build a cargo airport near Sofia, and develop luxury real estate to meet demand for seaside resort properties as Bulgaria’s economy picks up, an adviser to the projects said.
Investments would cover the financing to build hotels, villas, a marina port and a casino in the Thracian Cliffs golf resort on the Black Sea, said Ilian Scarlatov, a managing partner at Mane Capital AD in Sofia, which is advising the deals. He declined to identify the Chinese investors until transactions are complete.
“I hope both transactions will be finalized in about three months and construction works may start by mid-year,” Scarlatov said in an interview in Sofia on Thursday.
Bulgaria, the European Union’s poorest member, is seeking to lure tourists to its Black Sea shore to help boost revenue as industry picks up. Prime Minister Boyko Borissov forecast on Jan. 19 that the economy will expand more than 3 percent this year, after growing 2.9 percent from a year earlier in the third quarter, driven by demand and exports machinery and oil products.
One Chinese group plans to set up a special-purpose company to raise the capital of Thracian Cliffs Golf and Spa Resort AD by 204 million euros, Scarlatov said. That will enable it to build a seven-star Chedi Hotel and Villas, a 100-berth marina port with an adjacent village and a casino hotel in the next four years, he said.
China, which now accounts for about 15 percent of global output and helped propel the world out of recession in 2009, is seeking to expand its interests overseas. President Xi Jinping is promoting an ambitious plan to build roads, railways, pipelines and ports from Xian to Athens, known as the New Silk Road program. Foreign investment in Bulgaria amounted to 1.5 billion euros in January-November 2015. Leisure businesses in Bulgaria, where tourism accounts for 11 percent of economic output, look to Asian markets to attract affluent tourists.
A state-owned Chinese construction company plans to increase the capital of Sofia West Airport OOD, a former Soviet-era military airfield near Radomir, 45 kilometers (28 miles) southwest of Sofia to create the country’s biggest cargo airport, according to Scarlatov. The investment of 65 million euros will be used to extend the current 2.5 kilometer runway by 600 meters, build a cargo and passenger terminal and add two train stations that would link up to the railroad to Greece, in the next two years, he said.
The total investment planned for the cargo airport over four years is 165 million euros, Scarlatov said. Group Five Ltd., a South African construction company, holds 50 percent in Sofia West Airport, the rest is held by Bulgaria’s VP Capital.