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November 9 (SeeNews) - Balkan-focused telecoms and media company United Group said on Thursday that it agreed to take over Bulgarian satellite television and broadband Internet provider Bulsatcom for an undisclosed amount.
The transaction is subject to antitrust approvals, United, which owns Bulgarian mobile phone operator Vivacom, said in a press release.
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The deal is part of United's strategy to expand further in Bulgaria, aiming to accelerate its growth. Currently, United operates in eight countries in the region.
The group, which is based in the Netherlands, will continue investing in infrastructure, content and technology in Bulgaria, according to CEO Victoriya Boklag. In March, Boklag said in an interview that United is planning to invest 600 million euro ($641.3 million) over three years to strengthen its business in Bulgaria.
Pay-TV and broadband provider Bulsatcom, which was founded in 2000, serves residential and business customers, providing direct-to-home (DTH) satellite TV, IPTV and broadband Internet services. It also owns and operates its own fibre infrastructure and a retail distribution network.
"We know that Bulsatcom went through some difficult times and has been severely challenged in the current economic environment. But we are confident that this transaction is a great opportunity for this business to recover and accelerate its development," Vivacom CEO Nikolai Andreev said. He added that the acquisition widens Bulsatcom clients' access to new products in broadband, DTH and 5G technologies.
United Group serves over 15.5 million customers in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Slovenia, North Macedonia, Croatia, Bulgaria and Greece, generating annual revenue of some 2.7 billion euro.
The group, majority-owned by London-based private equity firm BC Partners, entered Bulgaria in 2020 with the acquisition of Vivacom, formerly known as Bulgarian Telecommunications Company (BTC). United has since developed what it claims is the biggest 5G network in the country and has rolled out the first 10GIGA fibre network.
Bulgaria's competition authority in December opened a probe into the potential acquisition of 75% of Bulsatcom by Sofia-based investment company Viva Corporate Bulgaria, represented by businessman Spas Roussev, after being alerted by local telecoms operators Yettel Bulgaria and A1 Bulgaria. Roussev was a main shareholder in Vivacom before the company was acquired by United Group. The rival mobile operators' antitrust concerns stemmed from information that the acquisition was being financed through a loan from United Group. The antitrust authority is yet to announce its decision.
Since February, the competition authority has also been investigating the planned acquisition of Bulsatcom's electronic communications network, comprising mobile towers and fixed fibre network, by United subsidiary Slovenia Broadband.
Earlier this year, United Group lambasted a request by Yettel Bulgaria to the competition authority to combine into one the probes into the two separate deals.
($ = 0.9356 euro)
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