BTC buys out C&W’s stake in Mobikom

SOFIA – Bulgarian telecoms firm BTC has bought out Britain’s Cable and Wireless’s 49 percent stake in small mobile phone operator Mobikom for 10.5 million euros ($13.7 million), the two companies said yesterday. BTC, majority controlled by US equity fund Advent, said it has raised its stake in the ailing firm to 88 percent and was negotiating to acquire full control of Mobikom to boost its position in Bulgaria’s growing telecoms market. The move will allow BTC to use Mobikom’s network and staff when launching its GSM operator this April. The former state-owned fixed-line operator, which initially had a 39 percent stake in the analogue mobile phone firm, said it will soon close the deal to purchase the remaining 12 percent from state-owned Radio Electronic Systems. Mobikom was launched in 1993 but in the last five years has lost most of its clients as it could not compete technically with the GSM mobile phone operators. Its market share dropped to 2 percent. BTC, in which Advent acquired a 65 percent stake last June, said it would offer Mobikom’s clients the chance of either sticking with the analogue service or switching to Bulgaria’s third digital mobile phone operator.

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