French telecom operator Orange is considering a bid for Bulgarian carrier Vivacom, the former state-owned fixed-line monopoly, according to reports in French media.
The initial claim was made by La Lettre de l’Expansion earlier this week, with business daily Les Echos quoting Orange deputy CEO Ramon Fernandez on November 17 saying that Vivacom was “a dossier among others” for the French company.
“We look at assets all the time, we have teams that look for potential targets,” Fernandez is quoted as saying.
The reports come only a year since the most recent change in Vivacom’s ownership – the former state-owned fixed line monopoly, also known as Bulgarian Telecommunications Company, has undergone several such changes over the past decade.
Last year, businessman Spas Roussev acquired control of the company for 330 million euro when Vivacom was put on sale after a Luxembourg-registered holding company, InterV, defaulted on a 150 million euro loan from VTB Capital, the investment unit of Russian bank VTB.
Over the years, media reports repeatedly linked Vivacom to strategic investors from the telecom sector, but the deals always saw private equity investors acquiring control of the company.
Vivacom is one of three large carriers in Bulgaria, alongside Telekom Austria-owned Mobiltel and Telenor Bulgaria, the local subsidiary of Norwegian telecom operator Telenor. Orange, formerly known as France Telecom, is already present on several Eastern European markets – Romania, Moldova, Slovakia and Poland, as well as the UK, Spain, and many African countries.