Following publications in the media that investment fund LIC33 group has acquired controlling stakes in several Bulgarian companies, including telecoms operator Vivacom (registered as Bulgarian Telecommunications Company [BTC]) and NURTS Bulgaria, the Commission on Protection of Competition (CPC) has requested that the business entities provide information on the change of ownership transactions. The antitrust regulator has highlighted that changes in the companies’ ownership could not be finalised without prior authorisation from it. Further, the CPC disclosed that it has the authority to initiate proceedings against all companies in breach of the procedure and impose fines of up to 10% of their turnover, while also taking measures to restore effective competition under Article 90 of the Law on Protection of Competition (LPC).
As previously reported by CommsUpdate, in January 2015 the CPC initiated an investigation into another alleged ‘change in ownership’ in BTC without prior authorisation. The CPC disclosed that the Technology Center – Institute of Microelectronics (TC-IME) claimed to be the final company on the Bulgarian side in possession of the majority stake in the telecoms operator. In November 2014 TC-IME concluded an agreement with now defunct CCBank, according to which all CCBank shares in Technotel Invest and Bromak Telecom Invest were transferred to TC-IME. The case was subsequently referred to the European Commission (EC), which is yet to announce its decision.