Sale of Bulgaria's 3 Mobile Operators 'Normal for Market Economy'

Business | July 26, 2012, Thursday // 12:28|  views

Bulgaria’s mobile operators are struggling to reverse declining average revenue per user. Photo by BGNES

Change is afoot in Bulgaria's mobile market with all three operators put up for sale, but experts describe the unprecedented situation as business as usual.

"This is a normal situation for a country with market economy. Everything is up for sale. It is only logical that an owner, who needs urgently financial resources in times of a global economic crisis, will be looking to offload its most valuable asset," Antoni Slavinski, chairman of the Telecommunications association, told Trud daily.

Bulgaria, a nation of 7.7 million people has three mobile operators, which are foreign owned and whose ownerships are expected to change hands this year.

Bulgaria's first and biggest mobile operator Mobiltel is controlled by Telekom Austria, while Globul is the local unit of Greece's OTE.

Bulgaria's incumbent telco BTC, which operates under the brand name Vivacom, is controlled by PineBridge Investments, part of Hong Kong tycoon Richard Li's empire.

Greek group OTE, the biggest telecoms operator in southeastern Europe, announced earlier this year that it plans to sell its Bulgarian units to help refinance EUR 3.4 B debt maturing in the next two years.

Meanwhile Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim made a deal to acquire 21% of Telekom Austria AG, which will translate into changes in the Bulgarian unit Mobiltel.

BTC sale, the longest awaited deal, is also just about to see a denouement.

Last week it emerged that the creditors of the debt-laden fixed-line incumbent have agreed its sale terms.

Bulgarian lender Corporate Commercial Bank (CCBank) and Russian peer VTB Bank are set to take over debt-ridden Bulgarian telecoms company Vivacom, Tsvetan Vasilev, chairman of the supervisory board of CCBank, told Bulgarian newspaper Capital Daily.

VTB Capital, a VTB Bank subsidiary, declined to comment.

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Tags: mobile market, BTC, Bulgarian Telecommunications Company, Richard Li, Vivacom, Telekom Austria, turkey, Turkcell, Corporate Commercial Bank, Tsvetan Vassilev, Mobiltel, OTE, Globul, Pamplona, mobile operator, Bulgaria, VTB Bank, VTB Capital, PineBridge Investments


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