Turks raise offer for BTC

SOFIA (Reuters) – A Turkish consortium of Koc Holding and Turk Telecom has raised its initial offer of 185 million euros ($218 million) for 65 percent of Bulgarian state telecoms operator BTC, a source at the consortium told Reuters yesterday. The source, who did not say by how much the offer had been increased, said the move was in line with the consortium’s earlier pledge «to provide the best economic value and social offering for the long-term interests of Bulgaria.» Earlier this month, Sofia scrapped a planned 210-million-euro sale of BTC to US private equity house Advent, citing legal inconsistencies in a preliminary deal signed in March – a move which analysts said marred the investment image of the European Union aspirant abroad. The Privatization Agency then launched sale talks with the only other bidder – the Turkish consortium. But Advent appealed against Sofia’s decision to abandon the landmark BTC sale in Bulgaria’s Supreme Administrative Court, and last week the sell-off agency suspended talks with the Turkish bidder until the court rules on the appeal. The court will examine Advent’s appeal in early June and issue a ruling within a month after that. «We are eager and persistent to finalize the tender as soon as possible, providing the best solution for Bulgaria’s long-term interests,» the Turkish consortium’s source said, adding that the group officially submitted the higher offer on May 23. The source reiterated the Turkish bidder’s intention to give up a yet unspecified dividend from BTC’s 2002 net profit of 199 million levs ($121 million) in favor of the government.

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