ECONOMY

AIG acquires 90 percent of Bulgarian telecom BTC

SOFIA – An investment arm of US insurance giant AIG has completed the planned acquisition of 90 percent of Bulgaria’s dominant telecoms company Bulgarian Tele-communications Company (BTC), AIG said yesterday. Icelandic tycoon Thor Bjorgolfsson earlier this year sold an option to acquire 65 percent of BTC to AIG Global Investment Group for -1.08 billion ($1.45 billion) or 11.25 levs ($7.71) per share. The other 25 percent of BTC was held by a group of minority shareholders. «AIG Investments has acquired a 90 percent stake in Bulgarian Telecommunications Company from Viva Ventures Holding GmbH and certain minority shareholders,» the company said in a statement. No details AIG did not say how much it paid for the 25 percent stake in BTC but said it valued the entire equity at -1.661 billion. Bjorgolfsson acquired the call option from private equity firm Advent International, which bought BTC through its Viva Ventures vehicle in a -280 million privatization deal in June 2004. It was unclear how much Bjorgolfsson paid for the option. The insurer will launch a tender offer for the remaining 10 percent of BTC shares, the statement said. «We will… implement our strategy and allow BTC to become one of the most innovative telecoms companies in the region,» said Pierre Mellinger, head of AIG Capital Partners’ private equity activity in Central and Eastern Europe. AIG has previously owned telecom operators in Romania and Slovakia and has high hopes for BTC, despite the company’s expectations of a slide in profits because of stiffer competition and falling prices in Bulgaria. The EU antitrust authorities gave a green light to the AIG acquisition of BTC last month.