Bulgaria's President: Turkcell, Turk Telecom Investment Plans Serious

November 29, 2012, Thursday // 06:47
Bulgaria: Bulgaria's President: Turkcell, Turk Telecom Investment Plans Serious
A file photo, dated September 2008, shows Bulgarian mobile operator Globul marking the seventh anniversary since its launch with a party at a restaurant raised 45 meters above the ground in downtown Sofia. Photo by Sofia Photo Agency

Bulgaria's president has hailed the interest that Turkey's largest mobile phone operator Turkcell and telecoms company Turk Telekom have in making investments in the country.

"Turkcell and Turk Telekom have serious investment plans with regard to Bulgaria and the government in Sofia is very happy about that," President Rosen Plevneliev said at a working lunch with Turkish businessmen in Istanbul.

Turkish companies, which operate on the territory of 109 countries, attended the meeting, including Sisecam and Dedeman.

Last week Turkey's largest mobile phone operator Turkcell and telecoms company Turk Telekom submitted non-binding bids to buy Bulgarian mobile operator Globul and the electronic appliance retail chain Germanos.

Potential buyers can submit non-binding bids for Bulgarian mobile operator Globul, put up for sale by the owner, Greece's OTE, by the end of the month, according to unconfirmed information.

Turk Telekom said Wednesday in a statement to Istanbul Stock Exchange that the bids were placed as part of the company's plans for regional expansion.

A day earlier Turkey's largest mobile phone operator Turkcell said it had placed a non-binding preliminary bid to buy Globul as it explores investment opportunities in the region.

Turkcell is Turkey's biggest mobile operator, serving 35m subscribers there and another 30m through subsidiaries and minority stakes in other countries. But the company has been struggling this year with shareholder wrangling.

The country's second richest man, Mehmet Emin Karamehmet, is fighting to keep control of the firm he co-founded. His Cukurova Holding, a family-owned group, is pitted against Turkcell's two other big shareholders, TeliaSonera, a Nordic telecoms operator, and Altimo, a subsidiary of Alfa Group, a large Russian investment firm.

The firm's two competitors on the Turkish market are Vodafone and Avea, which is controlled by Turk Telekom, the incumbent fixed-line giant.

Turk Telekom was bought in 2005 by Saudi Oger, a group founded by Rafik Hariri, a Lebanese prime minister who was assassinated in 2005.

Globul, Bulgaria's second-biggest mobile operator, reported earlier this month a sharp decline in revenues in a worrying sign about the future deal.

The revenues of telecoms operator Globul have dropped 20.9% in the third quarter of the year on an annual basis to EUR 85.9 M, data shows.

Globul is the trademark under which Cosmo Bulgaria Mobile EAD offers mobile telecommunications services in Bulgaria.

The company is 100% owned by Cosmote, OTE's mobile phone arm.

OTE, the biggest telecoms operator in southeastern Europe, announced in mid-June it plans to sell its Bulgarian units to help refinance EUR 3.4 B debt maturing in the next two years.

OTE hired the London unit of US Citigroup as a consultant for the sale.

OTE will seek to sell its Bulgarian businesses - a mobile phone company and an electronic appliance retail chain Germanos - for no less than EUR 800 M, according to reports.

Deutsche Telekom, which controls a 40% stake in OTE, Turkish Turkcell, British Vodafone and Orange, owned by France Telekom, have been listed as potential buyers.

The sale is expected to be wrapped up by the middle of next year at the latest.


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