Bulgaria's Major Media Group Settles Scores with Alpha Bank

Business | December 22, 2012, Saturday // 16:46|  views

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

Economedia, the second largest publishing group in the country, announced it has paid in full and in advance its loan to Alpha Bank, which was keen to seize control of it over an alleged default.

The corporate statement points out that, despite a court ruling in its favor, the company made the move in bid to safeguard its business operations and the independence of its media outlets.

At the beginning of December a Bulgarian court denied Alpha Bank's request to seize control of Economedia from its allegedly defaulting owners.

The ruling made 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.

The court ruling was final, so no door was left open to taking an immediate control.

Days earlier 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 Dnevnik.bg, 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 denied.

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

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, 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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