Sopharma Owner Keeps Up the Fight for WAZ Asssets in Bulgaria
Ognyan Donev, the brand new co-owner of WAZ Mediengruppe assets in Bulgaria, who was recently accused of an attempted corporate mini-coup, has approached the county's competition watchdog.
Donev has requested that the commission comes up with a statement on the enterprise concentration control, one of possibilities how to avoid or liquidate abuse of dominant position, the regulatory body announced in a statement.
The move just comes to confirm recent reports that the ownership of WAZ Mediengruppe assets in Bulgaria, which include the two wide-circulation Trud and 24 Hours newspapers, may change hands again.
Under local legislation Donev's request can be an indication of his plans to either acquire the holding, which is now called Media Group Bulgaria, or increase his stake.
Formally at the moment Donev, chairman and majority owner of Sopharma, the biggest Bulgarian generic drugmaker, is not a shareholder, but just a financial investor, who secured the money for the purchase of WAZ assets, a check in the trade registry shows.
Vienna-registered BG Privatinvest Ltd acquired a majority stake in the publisher of the two wide-circulation Bulgarian Trud and 24 Hours newspapers in the middle of December last year, while the remainder was held by local businessmen Lyubomir Pavlov.
The new owners acquired 100% in WAZ Zeitungsgruppe Bulgarien (ZGB). The price of the deal was not disclosed, but reports said it ranged from BGN 60 M to BGN 120 M.
The transaction included Trud and 24 Hours daily newspapers, 168 Hours weekly newspaper, Trud weekly, a few magazines, eight regional newspapers, a printing house, distribution company Strela and ZGB's headquarters in downtown Sofia and across the country.
Hristo Grozev, who represents the Vienna-registered BG Privatinvest Ltd, controlled by him, Austrian Karl Habsburg, and German Daniel Rutz, accused at the end of last month their Bulgarian partners of an attempted illegal corporate take-over of the newspapers.
Bulgaria's trade registry blocked the allegedly illegal transfer of a 83% stake in the holding at the insistence of Grozev.
Sopharma chairman has denied any wrongdoing, while the Justice minister has ordered a probe into the actions of the trade registry, which Donev has challenged.
His opponent Grozev has ruled out further cooperation with Pavlov and Donev and has suggested either to split the media group into two newspapers or sell it to a strategic investor, who should first prove that his interests concern only and exclusively the media market.
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