Viva raises government hackles, again

30 Mar 2011

Bulgaria is reported to be considering taking legal action against Viva Ventures, a subsidiary of London-based equity fund Advent International, which acquired a 65% stake in the state Bulgarian Telecommunications Company (BTC, now known as Vivacom), in 2004. Viva Ventures paid EUR230 million (USD324 million) for the stake plus a further EUR50 million for a licence to rollout a wireless network. As part of the same deal, Viva also agreed to pay BGN18 million (USD13 million) to the Defence Ministry over the course of two years, under a classified accord for the maintenance of secret defence communications. The operator however has not yet transferred a single payment to the ministry. ‘The company [Viva] has thirty days to pay what it owes or face court,’ the Privatisation Agency’s executive director Emil Karanikolov told local daily Trud. The newspaper adds that this will be the third time that Bulgaria has issued legal proceedings against the BTC buyers. Moreover, it speculates that a fourth writ is in the offing, over accusations that Viva breached the so-called ‘clawback agreement’, which obliges it to pay EUR78 million to the state in the case of BTC re-sale.

Bulgaria, Vivacom (BTC)