Bulgaria’s Commission on Protection of Competition (CPC) has ruled to allow the sale of seven newspaper-publishing companies from New Bulgarian Media Group Holding to Media Maker Limited, owned by Irish national Patrick Halpenny.
The deal includes several national dailies, including well-circulated newspapers Telegraph and Monitor, as well as 50 per cent in the publisher of the Veliko Turnovo local newspaper Borba.
CPC ruled that because Media Maker Limited has no media business in Bulgaria – in fact the company has no business operations in the country at all, having been registered earlier this year – and neither does its owner Halpenny, the acquisition of the newspapers will not lead to “market concentration.”
New Bulgarian Media Group Holding, officially listed as solely owned by Irena Krasteva, announced its intention to sell its print media on April 11, a move that took observers of Bulgaria’s media landscape by surprise.
Krasteva is the mother of Delyan Peevski, the controversial figure whose election as head of the State Agency for National Security (SANS) in June 2013 unleashed continuing months of public protests demanding the resignation of the government appointed a month earlier on the basis of a mandate handed to the Bulgarian Socialist Party.
Peevski repeatedly has denied that he is the actual owner or is involved in the ownership of the New Bulgarian Media Group publications and broadcast media, but eyebrows were raised earlier this year when, in an interview with a website owned by his mother, he referred to “my media” in the context of an allegation that the previous government had asked him to ensure that coverage went easy on certain alleged organised crime figures.
Halpenny, an experienced business person principally with a track record as a financier, formerly was an executive with Communicorp Group, whose portfolio includes about half a dozen well-known Bulgarian-language radio stations.
(Photo: Nadia Szopińska/sxc.hu)