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SOFIA (Bulgaria), April 27 (SeeNews) - Bulgaria's competition regulator said on Friday that Sofia-based Intrust, a company wholly owned by member of parliament Delyan Peevski, filed for approval to sell a stake in newspaper publisher Telegraf Media to Nu Image Media, formerly Nu Boyana Development.
"The acquisition is not expected to affect the product and geographical markets," the Commission for Protection of Competition said in a statement.
On Wednesday, local media reported that Nu Image Bulgaria, a subsidiary of US-based Nu Image Inc., has signed a preliminary contract for the acquisition of a 50% stake in Telegraf Media with Sofia-based Intrust. Nu Image Bulgaria is establishing a new subsidiary which will acquire the shareholding interest in Telegraf Media, the publisher of Telegraf, Monitor, Politika and Meridian Match newspapers, news outlet Focus reported, citing a joint statement of the parties to the deal.
The competition authority said it should announce its decision on the transaction within seven days
Wednesday's media report on the preliminary sale and purchase agreement coincided with the release of the 2018 World Press Freedom Index report of the international non-governmental organisation Reporters Without Borders, RSF, which said that media freedom in Bulgaria is lower than in any other EU member state or country in Southeast Europe. The organisation described Peevski, who controls nearly 80% of print media distribution in Bulgaria, as "the most notorious embodiment of this aberrant state of affairs".
"The government’s allocation of EU funding to certain media outlets is conducted with a complete lack of transparency, in effect bribing them to go easy on the government in their reporting or refrain from covering certain problematic stories altogether," according to RSF. The NGO also noted that media freedom in Bulgaria is lower than in any other EU member state or country in Southeast Europe due to widespread corruption and collusion between media, politicians, and oligarchs.