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United Group To Buy Bulgaria’s Vivacom In $1.3 Billion Deal

Balkan telecoms and media company United Group, owned by private equity firm BC Partners, said on Thursday it had agreed to acquire Bulgaria’s leading telecoms operator Vivacom.

United Group has sealed a 1.2 billion euros deal ($1.3 billion) to acquire Vivacom, which was put up for sale this year, two sources familiar with the transaction said.

The deal comes after United Group acquired Croatian telecoms operator Tele2 Croatia for 220 million euros ($243 million) in May as part of its plans to expand in south-eastern Europe.

United Group, Vivacom and BC Partners said in a joint statement that the deal was expected to close in the second quarter of next year, “subject to conditions, including receipt of applicable anti-trust approvals”.

A consortium led by Bulgarian businessman Spas Roussev took control of Vivacom from Russia’s VTB Bank in 2016 after bidding 330 million euros in an auction the previous year. It also took on about 450 million euros of Vivacom debt.

Russian businessman Dmitri Kosarev, who had a stake in a holding company that owned Vivacom, has disputed this sale, which he says wiped out his investment, in various courts.

Kosarev’s company, Empreno Ventures, said in a statement on Thursday it has also issued legal proceedings in Luxembourg against BC Partners and United Group over the Vivacom purchase.

United Group, which was founded in 2000, grew fast from a local cable TV provider to a multi-play telecoms company offering television, internet, fixed and mobile services in six countries across the Balkan region.

Vivacom’s buyers said the deal will be financed “through a combination of new debt and cash on hand at United Group”.―Reuters

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