Vivodi in Bulgarian move

Vivodi Telecommunications, one of the many alternative carriers that have sprung up in Greece following market deregulation two years ago, yesterday took the first step toward establishing its first Balkan hub, one of six it hopes to set up in the region and in the Middle East. Vivodi said it had agreed to take a stake of more than 90 percent in Worldfast Communications, owner of a leading Internet and long-distance telephone company in Bulgaria. New York-based Worldfast Communications is a holding company with shareholders Germanos, a Greek telecoms accessories retail chain, Greek software company LogicDis, and several other minor investors. Vivodi spokeswoman Veronika Miyiaki said the move into Bulgaria is part of a strategy of setting up six hubs in the Balkans and the Middle East, targeted at foreign companies operating in the Balkans and Greek businesses with operations in the region. She declined to put a price on Vivodi’s stake in Worldfast Communications. The company has hubs in London, Frankfurt and Washington and expects to expand its network to Milan, Paris and Brussels by the end of the year. Established in 1996, Bitex offers a wide range of services, among them voice-over IP, data and Internet connections. It has 10 hubs countrywide, an estimated 25,000 members for its dial-up services and more than 100 corporate customers for its long-distance telephony services. The two companies are currently seeking to link up their central hubs in Athens and Sofia. Vivodi said it plans to upgrade Bitex’s technological expertise, enabling it to offer fixed-line telephony, IP-VPN and fast Internet services. It will launch pre-pay time cards and virtual private networks in Bulgaria next month via Bitex. Vivodi has set a goal of a 14-percent share of the Greek market in the next four years. Kalligeros is also disappointed by the way Greek tourism is advertised abroad.