March 8 (SeeNews) - Yettel Bulgaria said it requested the Bulgarian competition regulator to ban the acquisition of key assets of Bulgarian pay-TV and broadband services provider Bulsatcom by Luxembourg-registered Slovenia Broadband, owned by Netherlands-based telecoms and media services provider United Group.
Yettel Bulgaria, part of Czech investment group PPF, also asked the Commission on Protection of Competition (CPC) to combine into a single investigation the notification procedure lodged by Slovenia Broadband last month with the ongoing probe by the watchdog to establish a possible breach of competition legislation though Bulsatcom's proposed change of ownership, Yettel said in a press release on Tuesday.
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The CPC decided in December to look into the acquisition 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. Their concern expressed at the time was that the acquisition was financed through a loan from United Group, the owner of Vivacom, formerly known as Bulgarian Telecommunications Company (BTC), and that the creditor is likely to be able to influence decisions related to Bulsatcom’s activity through the terms of the loan.
Slovenia Broadband sought permission from the antitrust regulator last month to acquire Bulsatcom's electronic communications network, comprising mobile towers and fixed fibre network.
Yettel Bulgaria motivated its current request to the CPC with the concern that the planned series of acquisitions of companies with strong financials and a solid infrastructure by a major player of
the telecoms market will lead to the creation of a dominant operator holding over 60% in the television distribution market and nearly 40% of the Internet access market.
"This, in turn, could lead to a weakening of the competitive pressure also in the market for package services (mobile, TV and Internet), where one player will strengthen its leading position," Yettel Bulgaria also said.
Apart from Vivacom, United Group also owns TV and radio broadcaster Nova Group in Bulgaria. Spas Roussev was a major shareholder in BTC before the company was acquired by United Group.