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‘Bulgarian Las Vegas’ Granted Priority Investment Status

The sprawling, Chinese-led St. Sofia project will include hotels, casinos, office spaces and residential areas. 

10 August 2017

The Bulgarian government has given an additional boost to a joint venture with a Chinese company to build an “unprecedented mega-resort development” in Sofia.

 

Last week the government granted priority development project status for the St. Sofia project being spearheaded by Chinese-owned Bulgarian Development Holdings Limited (BDHL), Balkan Insight reports.

 

The project is now eligible for state-guaranteed incentives, a spokesperson for the Invest Bulgaria Agency said.

 

Launched in 2014, St. Sofia will host a galaxy of “world class” and “mega” attractions, from five-star hotels and a resort complex to the “world’s largest indoor All-Weather Water Park,” according to the project overview.

 

“We hope the project will be realized in the next three years,” the Invest Bulgaria spokesperson said.

 

Bulgaria’s success in attracting Chinese investments may be due less to its own efforts than to Beijing’s continent-spanning Belt and Road initiative.

 

Aerial view of the St. Sofia complex. Image via http://www.bdh-bg.com.

 

"Chinese are here not because we made an effort, but because they have a long-term strategic thinking and see value in the geopolitical situation of Bulgaria and the region. They would like to see feasible, large-scale business projects that can be started within six to 12 months and which do not hold political or administrative risk," Ilian Scarlatov, a managing partner at Sofia-based financial advisors Mane Capital, said in an interview with Reuters last year.

 

As China Daily wrote two years ago, “Bulgaria is strategically located along the Silk Road Economic Belt, as it is situated in the southeastern Balkan Peninsula in southeast Europe, connecting the continent to Asia.”

 

The entertainment and commercial complex will be erected 20 kilometers east of Sofia, Reuters wrote in May.

 

 

  • BDHL and Chinese telecom equipment maker ZTE Corp. agreed on a $1.6 billion deal to develop St. Sofia during last spring’s Belt and Road summit in Beijing, Reuters says.

 

  • Some are worried that increased coziness with Beijing in Central and Eastern Europe comes with tradeoffs, including a loss in influence for the region’s traditional ally, the United States, and possible compromises on democratic and humanitarian principles, TOL contributor Prem Mahadevan wrote last year.

Compiled by Ioana Caloianu

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