Mergermarket: Telenor Sells its Bulgarian Operator to a US Fund
Norwegian telecom Telenor negotiates with a US fund to sell its businesses in Bulgaria, Serbia and Montenegro for a price of 2 billion euros. This is reported by the specialized Mergermarket, referring to three unofficial sources. Capital has confirmed from a single source that the prospective buyer has been selected in December. From the Bulgarian telecom addressed questions to the Norwegian headquarters. The Oslo group said for Capital that they dо not comment on market rumors.
Change in strategy
Only three and a half years after buying Globul, Telenor has clearly changed its strategy. Of the deal, which was 717 million euros, the Nordic group has so far strengthened its market share and quickly introduced a 4G network. According to the results for the last reported quarter, the telecom has 3.23 million subscribers in Bulgaria, 9% less than a year earlier. The shrinkage is mainly due to the decrease in the number of prepaid customers. However, average subscriber revenue (ARPU) is rising - 6% to 14 leva per month, Telenor's report shows.
Who is the buyer so far is unknown. Most telecoms representatives who have been contacted by Capital told them about reported interest from the US fund KKR. It has a satellite TV operator in Serbia and investment in the region, so the expansion sounds logical.
"The bidder is not represented in the region," said a source close to the Norwegian company. So the KKR hypothesis is far from certain.
Bidding has apparently also been quiet outside Bulgaria because local consultants did not know about the process. According to Mergermarket, a possible deal could include Telenor's Hungarian assets in addition to Bulgaria, Serbia and Montenegro. Thus, the prospective buyer could be present on four markets with a total of almost 10 million customers (3.3 million in Serbia and Montenegro, and 3.1 million in Hungary). Total revenue for the third quarter reached EUR 323 million. Turnover of Telenor Bulgaria for the period reached BGN 172.7 million, while EBITDA amounted to BGN 66.4 million,
Telenor Bulgaria is the third revenue operator in the country: for the last year (at the end of October 2017) it is 667 million leva. Leader is BTK with 875 million leva, followed by Mobiltel by 806 million leva. , but both companies offer TV and fixed internet delivery, the Telenor dock has only mobile services and it is second in market share.
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