Court Snubs Alpha Bank's Claim on Bulgaria's Economedia

Business | December 4, 2012, Tuesday // 12:02|  views

Businessman Ivo Prokopiev holds a 51% stake in Economedia, which publishes influential “Capital" and "Dnevnik" newspapers. Photo by BGNES

A Bulgarian court has denied Alpha Bank's request to seize control of Economedia from its allegedly defaulting owners.

The news comes just days after the Bulgarian unit of Greece's Alpha Bank surprisingly seized control of Economedia.

Economedia assets, including business daily paper Capital daily, along with the most influential weekly paper - Capital and the business internet site, as well as the headquarters of the publishing house, cars and equipment, were distrained for the benefit of Alpha Bank.

The publishing group was reportedly mortgaged for a credit worth nearly EUR 9.5 M.

A loan of over EUR 430 000 borrowed from the bank was due at the end of September, but not paid, according to the reports, a claim that the company vehemently denies.

Economedia is owned by Theodor Zahov (49% stake) and Ivo Prokopiev (51% stake).

The court ruling, issued on Monday, is final, so no door has been left open to taking control.

Judge Desislava Dobreva stated that there is a pending claim proceeding between Alpha Bank and Economedia, which is why no changes can be made in the company.

The ruling makes it clear that whether Economedia debt was subject to execution, when Alpha Bank launched the claim proceedings, is an issue, which should first be decided in the court room.

Earlier on Monday, at the opening of the seventh annual meeting of the government with business representatives, traditionally organized by Capital newspaper, co-owner Theodor Zahov said:

"Free speech is not an item that can be bought. This is what we believe in, these are our principles.

To be a media publisher in Bulgaria is a tough job, unrewarding too, especially when the publishers and the journalists strive to be as independent and objective in their work as possible. One pays a high price to afford that. Injustice seems to reign."

The media owners feared that the Bulgarian unit of Greece's Alpha Bank will seek to sell the company in the near future.

Speaking to the state-owned radio over the weekend, Zahov refused to disclose the names of the potential buyer, but hinted there is already one.

The statement fueled rumors that media mogul Irena Krasteva and her son Delyan Peevski, who have been criticized for concentrating Bulgaria's media market in their hands and fawning to those in power, have set their sights on the taking over the influential publishing group having already achieved a near monopoly on the media market in the country.

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Tags: Alpha Bank, Bulgaria, capital, Dnevnik, Economedia, Theodor Zahov, greece, Ivo Prokopiev


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