Advent hangs up BTC

AIG plans to take the company private and is expected to launch a bid to secure another 25% of the company from public shareholders shortly.

The sale marks the end of a story which began over five years ago when the Bulgarian government announced its plans to sell the state-owned BTC. Viva Ventures won the tender process for BTC in October 2002 but it wasn’t until June 2004 that the consortium finally acquired the company following the Bulgarian privatisation agency at one stage excluding Viva from negotiations, a decision eventually overturned by the Supreme Administrative Court of Bulgaria.

The original bid submitted by Viva Ventures was €250m for a 65% stake. Following negotiations Viva increased this to €280m and later agreed to pay the state a dividend in recognition of BTC’s 2002 performance, increasing the price to €324m. Viva Venture eventually acquired the company in June 2004.

Joanna James, Advent managing director, said: “BTC offered enormous potential when we first bid for it in 2002 and, since acquiring a majority stake in the company in 2004 through Viva, we have worked hard to fulfil that potential. BTC has substantially increased the digitalisation of its network, launched new services including ADSL broadband, been awarded the hotly contested 3rd GSM licence in Bulgaria and launched BTC Mobile under the brand Vivatel. BTC is now one of Europe’s major telecoms businesses with a great future.”