Bulgarian Competition Watchdog to Keep an Eye on Bulgartabac

Industry | September 10, 2011, Saturday // 15:52|  views

The Bulgartabac headquarters in downtown Sofia. File photo.

Bulgaria's Commission on Protection of Competition will have to check any resale of recently privatized cigarette producer Bulgartabac.

The company was sold beginning of September to Austrian company BT Invest, owned in its entirety by Russian state VTB bank, for EUR 100.1 M.

Saturday the state competition watchdog announced that in an event of a resale, it will have to check whether the new owner will achieve a monopoly status on the Bulgarian market with the transaction.

The statement follows up on reports Friday that VTB plans a sale of some Bulgartabac assets.

The identity of the ultimate owner of BT Invest has provoked great speculations in Bulgaria, with some people arguing that the Russian bank might be acting on behalf of its client.

Many have stated they believe that the person behind BT Invest is actually Bulgarian, and possibly connected with circles around the opposition party Movement for Rights and Freedoms.

In the past year, politicians from the Movement were instrumental for the failure of several attempts to sell off Bulgartabac, arguing that the offers were not profitable for the country, and for Bulgaria's ethnic Turkish tobacco growers, whose interests the party traditionally defends.

Bulgartabac is the only producer of cigarettes operating in Bulgaria.

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Tags: Bulgartabac, Movement for Rights and Freedoms, tobacco growers, cigarette, cigarettes, BT Invest, VTB, Russian


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