Globul will seek bigger share

SOFIA (Reuters) – Bulgaria’s Globul GSM operator, fully owned by Greece’s OTE, announced yesterday it planned to win half of the local market by 2005 and would invest some $100 million by mid-2004 to expand its network. Officials at Globul, which won a 15-year license to operate Bulgaria’s second GSM network in late 2000 for $135 million, told a news conference they estimated the operator’s market share would reach some 30 percent next month. They did not provide a figure on Globul’s current share. «We will play rough, we will have 50 percent of the market in two years,» Nikolaos Tsalos, Globul’s CEO, told Reuters. Globul competes against Austrian-owned Mobiltel, Bulgaria’s largest mobile operator with nearly 2 million subscribers, and a small analog operator Mobikom, in which Britain’s Cable & Wireless holds a 49 percent stake. Globul said it expects subscriber numbers to reach 1 million out of the Balkan country’s 8 million people by the end of this year and its network to cover 75 percent of the territory. Globul’s subscriber numbers stood at 653,084 at the end of June, a company statement said. Globul has so far invested some 800 million levs ($471 million) and plans to invest another 200 million levs by mid-2004 mainly in improving infrastructure and providing new services, officials said. «We are on target for Q3 results, and we are already operating at positive levels of EBITDA (earning before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization),» Tsalos said but did not give more details on the expected results. Globul posted a loss of 10.3 million euros in the first half of this year, down from a 13.8-million-euro loss a year earlier, company data showed.

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