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Financial Participation

According to most studies financial participation models are not widespread in Bulgaria. According to the data of the European Working Conditions Survey (2010), for example, both share ownership and profit sharing are less frequent in Bulgaria than in other European countries.

Share Ownership


According to the results of the European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS 2010), based on questionnaires of employees, the diffusion of employee share ownership was only 0.6 per cent.1 The results of the European Company Survey, by contrast, indicate that employee share ownership is significant in Bulgaria.


According to the findings of this Europe-wide survey of more than 27,000 HR managers in 2009, 7% of private-sector companies in Bulgaria offer employee share ownership schemes. This puts Bulgaria above the European average of 5%.2 The results of the Cranet Report 2011 indicate that the diffusion of financial participation models in Bulgaria (companies with 100 or more employees) is below average.3 This also applies to employee share ownership schemes.4

The proportion of share ownership resulting from the first mass privatization programme probably lies at about 4-5%. The sale of companies using the MEBO method in the course of the MEBO privatization programme reached 1,436 or 28% of 5,165 privatisation deals. Together with other sales also involving preferential treatment of employees (e.g. privatization via the partial acquisition of enterprises) this makes almost half of the conventional privatisations carried out through insiders. Out of 20 companies privatised by MEBO and examined in a study from 2004, only 3 were not under management control.5 As most employees hold minority shares, there were only two cases where employees were represented in the managing bodies of the company. In the absence of data on the sales of shares by employees after privatisation, it can be estimated that about 10% of enterprises privatised by MEBO may still be under majority employee ownership.


Regarding the shares resulting from the second part of the mass privatization programme ownership was distributed as follows: 40.8% state property; 6.4% employees; 12.9% individual shareholders, and 39.9% privatisation funds.6 Privatisation funds began to exchange or sell share packages among themselves, thereby gaining control of strategic enterprises and considerably decreasing the share of employees. Employee participation peaked immediately after mass privatisation was completed in 1998, with employees owning about 7-12% of shares. Subsequently, however, these employees’ shares were transferred to managers and outside owners.



The findings of the ‘Annual Economic Surveys of Employee Ownership in European Countries in 2012’ show that 22.2% of the largest Bulgarian corporations offer comprehensive share ownership schemes covering the whole workforce (European average: 53.3%).7

It should however be taken into account that, due to the fact that there are relatively few Bulgarian companies with a market capitalisation of at least 200 Mio. Euro, a comparison with other European countries is difficult. Figures may also be inexact.






There are no comprehensive or sample studies of the forms of employee participation in profits. Both private and public companies prefer other incentive schemes, for example, monthly and annual bonuses.


According to the results of the “European Company Survey“, 9% of private-sector Bulgarian companies with 10 or more employees offer their employees a profit sharing scheme. Compared with other European countries, this is a below-average figure (the 30-country European average is 14%). The prevalence of employee profit sharing schemes is not overtly dependent on company size. 10% of companies with 10-49 employees, 10% with 50-199 employees, and 12% of companies with more than 200 employees have a profit sharing scheme.8 According to the findings of the European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS, 2010), some 8.3% of companies in Bulgaria have profit sharing schemes.9

Republiková únia zamestnávatel’, the largest Slovakian employers’ association, found out from a survey that in 54.17% of Bulgarian companies profit-sharing is at least known as a form of financial participation.10 At the same time, the companies questioned said that they did not have enough information on different forms of financial participation.





Around 1% of all registered companies in Bulgaria are cooperatives. The two largest cooperative unions, representing about 17% of all cooperatives with about 230,000 members, were employing about 218,500 people. According to the two biggest cooperative associations 95% of their member cooperatives are workers’ cooperatives.11 More than half of all cooperatives are active in agriculture. More than half of agricultural land under production is thus owned by cooperatives.


Wilke, Maack and Partner (2014) Country reports on Financial Participation in Europe. Prepared for www.worker-participation.eu. Reports first published in 2007 and fully updated in 2014.