Former state-owned operator Bulgarian Telecommunications Company (BTC) reported yesterday that Icelandic company Novator, controlled by billionaire Thor Bjorgolfsson, has made an offer to buy its entire fixed line and mobile operations. BTC gave no financial details of the offer, which needs to be approved by the Communications Regulation Commission (CRC) before it can go ahead. Last year, BTC was privatised in a deal that raised EUR250 million, but the price offered by Novator is likely to be higher given recent investments in the telco’s fixed line infrastructure and the launch of GSM subsidiary VivaTel last month. Bjorgolfsson has other interests in Bulgaria, controlling three of its four largest pharmaceutical plants through his company Pharmaco.
BTC is currently 65%-owned by Austrian-registered Viva Ventures Holding, an arm of US-based global private equity group Advent International, and Barclays Bank Suisse (10%). The remainder is held by investors all with shares under 5%. The Bulgarian government retains a single golden share allowing it to intervene in key decisions.