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Bulgarian operator Vivacom acquired at auction for €730M

Bulgarian number three Vivacom has been bought at auction for €730 million by the businessman and fellow Bulgarian Spas Roussev.

The final sum includes paying off the operator’s €400 million debt; the winning bid of €330 million was confirmed by the auction’s organiser, Russian investment bank VTB Capital. The acquisition is expected to be officially confirmed following the signing of a share-purchase agreement.

Winning bidder Roussev was previously an investor in real estate, but he also has a background in telecommunications. His bid won out against competition from Greece’s Olympia ground, which had partnered with hedge fund Third Point to lodge a bid.

The operator was auctioned following the collapse of the Bulgarian lender Corporate Commercial Bank (Corpbank), which was controlled by Tsvetan Vassilev. Vivacom itself was controlled by Vassilev’s Bromak Telecom Invest Company via a consortium arrangement with VTB Capital that granted it an 80% holding in the operator.

While VTB Capital was able to successfully auction Vivacom, its ownership is contested by Russian businessmen Dimitry Kosarev, who is planning to launch a legal challenge based on his claim of ownership over Vassilev’s stake. Regardless of the outcome of this claim, the deal will require the green light from regulators in Bulgaria and the EU.

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