HIstory of Bansko in Bulgaria (video from YouTube)
While the entry of Bulgaria into the European Union is expected to prompt an exodus of workers from the country in search of better wages, an Aim-listed property company is betting that the number of British holidaymakers heading for the slopes of the Balkan country will continue to rise.
Bulgarian Land Development today said it had bought a 56,093 sq metre site near the winter resort of Borovets, a popular destination with British skiers. It said the purchase price was £3.4m, along with a further £14 per sq metre of the total built-up area and 30pc of any gross sale proceeds over £27m.
Dimitar Savov, an executive director of BLD, said: "All the hotels [in Borovets] are full with British people. There is a strong relationship with British tourist companies."
Property prices in Bulgaria have risen as much as 30pc in the best areas over the past year, while the average increase was around 15pc, Mr Savov said.
The prospect of Bulgaria's entry into the EU, which officially happened yesterday, helped the economy expand 6.7pc in the third quarter and the country is expected to attract a record 4bn of investment this year.
BLD plans to built a resort complex of villas and apartments, covering around 50,000 sq metres, on the site where a factory currently stands.
Mr Savov added that the company was keen to target the growing Scandinavian market. "Ninety per cent of our clients up to now have been British and Irish, with 10pc Bulgarians, Romanians and Russians," he said.
Bulgaria became the latest country to join the European Union, along with Romania. The former communist country applied for EU membership in 1995 and began accession talks in 2000.
Mr Savov said: "We are going to sell apartments to our clients and they can also sign rental agreements. Fifty per cent of the clients are investors - they buy to collect rent and benefit from property prices."
BLD said the site it had bought offered access to ski runs, spa facilities and golf courses. It said the projected sales value of the project was more than £35m. Construction is due to begin at the start of 2008, with the first-phase apartments available for the 2009-10 winter season.
The company said its portfolio had a completed development value of £163m and added that it was in talks over buying further sites.
Shares in BLD were up ½p at 90p in afternoon trading.
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