The EC has approved the acquisition of Bulgarian telecoms operator Vivacom by Netherlands-based telecoms and media firm United Group, owned by BC Partners. The EC concluded that a lack of competition was unlikely considering the ‘very limited increase in the merged entity’s market position and the presence of several other players in the market of retail supply of pay-TV services.’ With the EC satisfied that the deal will not create issues around competition in the market, United Group will become the sole controller of Vivacom’s parent firm, Viva Telecom Bulgaria. United Group agreed to purchase the Bulgarian operator in November 2019.
As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, in mid-2019 Vivacom majority owner Spas Roussev confirmed that the telco was up for sale, with Lazard appointed to sell the business, valued at around EUR1.2 billion (USD1.35 billion). Vivacom is currently owned by holding company Viva Telecom Bulgaria, itself a subsidiary of Luxembourg-based InterV Investment, which in turn is wholly owned by Viva Telecom (Luxembourg), whose main shareholder (46%) is listed as Spas Roussev (via Viva Edge Telecom). Other minority investors are listed as follows: VTB Bank, Delta Capital Investments (controlled by Milen Velchev, Georgi Velchev and Krasimir Katev), Michael Tennenbaum and companies managed by Mezzanine Management Central Europe II. The telco was sold to its current owners in late 2015, following an auction triggered by a default on a loan repayment to VTB Capital by a Luxembourg holding company.