Bulgaria

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Russia will cut off the gas to Poland and Bulgaria on Wednesday in a major escalation in the standoff between Moscow and Europe over energy supplies and the war in Ukraine, Bloomberg News reported. Moscow is making good on a threat to halt gas supplies to countries that refuse President Vladimir Putin’s new demand to pay for the fuel in rubles. The European Union has rejected the demand in principle but now payment deadlines are starting to fall due, governments across Europe need to decide whether to accept Putin’s terms or lose crucial supplies -- and run the risk of energy rationing.
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Bulgaria's lawmakers voted on Wednesday to shield households from surging energy costs by freezing their electricity and heating prices at current levels in the European Union's poorest state, a move slammed by power distribution companies, Reuters reported. In the past, rising prices have sparked protests in the Balkan country, where poor households often struggle to pay winter bills. Bulgaria's independent energy regulator had been discussing raising electricity prices by an average of 11.5% and heating prices by up to 30% for households from Jan.
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State-owned water and sewerage utilities in Bulgaria are facing bankruptcy due to high electricity prices caused by the energy crisis. The government and regulatory authorities are trying to find the solution, but for now they have different views on the issue, BalkanGreenEnergyNews.com reported. Electricity prices on power exchange IBEX in Bulgaria have risen fivefold since January, from EUR 45 per MWh to about EUR 220.
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Bulgaria'seconomy is expected to rebound with growth of 4% this year and accelerating to 4.9% in 2022, the finance ministry said in its autumn macroeconomic forecast on Wednesday, Reuters reported. The small and open economy contracted by 4.2% in 2020 when the coronavirus pandemic hit jobs and businesses. The ministry said strong domestic demand in the first half of 2021 has prompted it to increase its GDP growth forecast from an earlier estimate of 3.5%.
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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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