In a statement on its website, the PPCA says it received a letter from BDZ Holding informing the agency that it cannot indicate when shares can be released to the private sector. The decision has the backing of the Ministry of Transport and Communications.

Last December the PPCA said seven strategic and financial investors had expressed an interest in the sale, which was the second attempt to privatise the company. However in February a court in Sofia ordered a freeze on the assets of BDZ Tovarni Prevozi on the request of Dublin-based Depfa Bank, which is owed around Lev 6.3m ($US 4.2m) by BDZ.

The previous government hoped the privatisation would raise around Lev 100m, which would be used to pay off a portion of BDZ's Lev 709m debt.

However, since the formation of a left-leaning coalition government after last-month's general election, ministers have indicated that they wish to adopt a new approach. On May 30, incoming transport minister Mr Danail Papazov told Bulgaria's Focus News Agency that he would propose halting the privatisation process with the aim of reforming and stabilising the company under public ownership.