Bulgaria competition watchdog to probe proposed Vivacom deal

Bulgaria’s Commission on Protection of Competition (CPC) said on March 30 that it has asked several local companies, including telecom operator Vivacom, to provide information regarding the proposed ownership change.

Earlier this month, Luxembourg-registered special-purpose vehicle LIC33 said that it would buy stakes owned by Tsvetan Vassilev – the former majority shareholder in Corporate Commercial Bank (CCB) – in several companies, including 43 per cent in Bulgarian Telecommunications Company (which operates under the Vivacom brand), as well as majority stakes in telecom infrastructure firm Nurts and multiplex operator First Digital, audience research firm Garb, as well as military plants Dunarit and Avionams.

Private equity investor Pierre Louvrier, who said that he was the sole owner of LIC33, told reporters that his firm would buy the assets for one euro, but had committed to refinancing debt worth 900 million euro.

CPC said that its investigation was meant to ascertain how far have the talks progressed, pointing out that any such deal required the regulator’s approval before the ownership change took effect. Should CPC find that a transfer of ownership was carried out without its approval, it can impose fines of up to 10 per cent of the company’s annual turnover and other measures to ensure competition was not harmed, the regulator said.

The regulator also said that it had a separate ongoing investigation into the acquisition of Nurts by Vivacom, while a separate probe into whether another Luxembourg-based company, SHCO 79 s.a.r.l., had acquired control over Vivacom without the regulator’s approval has been referred to the European Commission.

(Photo: Nedko/flickr.com)



The Sofia Globe staff

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