Bulgaria

United Group, the private-equity backed cable company, has struck a €1.2bn deal to acquire Bulgaria’s former state owned telecoms operator Vivacom, the Financial Times reported. The sale is one of the largest deals struck by United, owned by BC Partners, to consolidate the Balkan media and communications industry. It agreed to buy Tele2 Croatia for €220m in May and has so far rolled up about 100 Balkan businesses. It comes in spite of a long-running ownership dispute around Vivacom, which is still rumbling through the courts.

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United Group, a private equity-owned cable company, is in exclusive talks to buy Vivacom, Bulgaria’s largest telecoms group, according to people familiar with the situation, the Financial Times reported. The company, owned by BC Partners, is nearing a deal for Vivacom, which went up for sale in July, the people said. Buyout firm KKR also owns a minority stake in United Group. Vivacom was expected to be valued at about €1.2bn based on recent deals in the region for telecom assets, people involved in the sale said.

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In a fresh twist to the saga of Matador Prime’s Bulgaria-licensed brokerage arm, the Bulgarian Financial Supervision Commission (FSC) has triggered insolvency proceedings against the company based on a decision set by the Sofia City Court, Finance Magnates reported. In the case at hand, insolvency proceedings were opened on March 19, 2019 against Matador Prime, which procured a MiFID license in Bulgaria back in 2015 to passport its services across the European Union.

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Bulgaria has committed to strengthening its banking sector, European Union officials said Tuesday, two days before a eurozone finance ministers meeting that could shed light on the Balkan country's progress toward joining the euro. Bulgaria meets the nominal criteria to adopt the European common currency, with its lev currency pegged to the euro, low inflation and healthy public finances. But it is also the EU's poorest country, and widespread graft and troubles at some of its banks have cast a shadow over its prospects of joining, VOA reported.
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Bowing to pressure from the European Central Bank and the European Union, Bulgaria will seek to join the bloc’s banking union and the precursor for euro-area membership simultaneously within the next year, its finance minister said. The government in the EU’s poorest member appeared to yield to recommendations from the European Central Bank and the European Commission, which have said Sofia needs to improve governance, the economy and banks, Bloomberg News reported. Finance Minister Vladislav Goranov had insisted earlier this month on joining the bank union only after accession to ERM-2.
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Bulgaria’s Constitutional Court will rule on whether amendments to Bulgaria’s bank insolvency law, passed by Parliament earlier this year, breach constitutional provisions, the Sofia Globe reported. The controversial amendments, tabled by the opposition Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) but backed by the government coalition, have been criticised by legal experts for introducing a retroactive effect.
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Bulgaria’s hopes of becoming the next member of the eurozone have been dealt a blow by the European Central Bank which has warned the EU’s poorest country has made minimal progress in joining the euro club, the Financial Times reported. In its latest biennial “convergence report” assessing non-euro economies, the ECB raised concerns over Bulgaria’s central bank independence, inflation dynamics and urged for “wide-ranging structural reforms”. Bulgaria has been considered the most likely 20th member of the single currency area.
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Bulgarian MPs voted on March 7 to overturn President Roumen Radev’s veto on the bill of amendments to the Bank Insolvency Act, The Sofia Globe reported. The motion carried with 129 MPs in favour, 40 opposed and no abstentions. Radev vetoed the bill on February 21, arguing that some of the provisions had retroactive effect, which breached the principle of the rule of law. “The president supports the efforts of the National Assembly for greater efficiency in defending the public interest in bank insolvency, but that must be achieved using constitutional means.
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The European Commission recommended on Wednesday that Bulgaria take action to address several areas of macroeconomic imbalances in 2016 and 2017, the Sofia News Agency reported. The proposal is part of the Commission’s 2016 country-specific recommendations which set out its economic policy guidance for the EU Member States for the next 12 to 18 months. More specifically, the Commission recommended that Bulgaria achieve an annual fiscal adjustment of 0.5% of GDP towards the medium-term budgetary objective in 2016 and in 2017.
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Bank Insolvency Act amendments aimed at allowing easier access of creditors to information related to the insolvency proceedings passed second reading in Parliament on Wednesday, the Sofia News Agency reported. Under the newly adopted provisions, the list of creditors who have submitted claims against a bank undergoing insolvency proceedings will be published in the Business Register. The amendments to the Bank Insolvency Act were backed by 91 MPs, with no votes against and two abstentions.
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