Vivacom (Bulgarian: Виваком) is the brand name of "Bulgarian Telecommunications Company EAD" ("BTC"), the largest telecommunications company in Bulgaria and a former state-owned incumbent operator. The company is headquartered in Sofia, Bulgaria and employs around 6,000 people, owning a mature distribution network with around 300 branded retail outlets and alternative sale points.
|Joint Stock Company|
|Atanas Dobrev, CEO|
|Products||Satellite television, IPTV, Fixed line, Mobile telephony, Internet service provider|
|Revenue||€454.7 million; BGN 889.5 million (2017)|
Number of employees
Vivacom is a fully integrated operator, providing mobile, fixed voice, fixed broadband and pay-TV (both DTH and IPTV) services on a nationwide scale to both residential and business customers. The fixed-line services are provided through copper-based and fibre network footprint, while the mobile services are based on GSM/GPRS/EDGE and UMTS/HSPA+/LTE technologies.
Vivacom owns and operates – Plana teleport, which features more than 40 transmit and receive antennas able to deliver transmission and connectivity even to the most remote points, including orbital positions in Europe, Africa, Middle East and Asia.
BTC has its roots as the incumbent fixed-line operator organising and facilitating communications services in Bulgaria. The Company has gone through various stages of operation – from the long period of state-owned structure to the privatisation procedure in 2004, when the Bulgarian government sold 65% of the share capital.
In May 2005 the BTC was granted a license for the development of third-generation mobile telecommunication systems under the UMTS standard. In November 2005 the Company launched its mobile services under the “Vivatel” brand. “Vivatel” became Bulgaria's fastest growing mobile operator following its launch.
In January 2009, BTC announced the merger with its subsidiary BTC Mobile (“Vivatel”).
In September 2009, BTC and Vivatel united into a new brand - Vivacom.
In late 2012, VTB Capital, the investment arm of Russia's second-largest bank, has led a consortium (Viva Telecom Bulgaria EAD) to buy a controlling stake in BTC. The consortium included a local partner, Mr. Tzvetan Vassilev. In November 2012, Viva Telecom Bulgaria EAD acquired a 93.99 percent stake in the Bulgarian Telecommunications Company. The transaction became a fact as a result of the approval of a comprehensive scheme for the sale and restructuring of the company. The deal received approval from the European Commission and other regulatory authorities. Local experts state that the purchase of VIVACOM was among the most complicated deals in Bulgaria.
In January 2015 Vassilev sold his stake in VIVACOM to Pierre Louvrier[*] who, being unable to refinance the debt on the shareholder level, returned it back to Vassilev. Vassilev then sold his interest in VIVACOM to Empreno Ventures Limited which is owned by Dmitry Kosarev, a Russian businessman.
Notwithstanding the proposal of Empreno to refinance the debt, which at that time was a 43.3% shareholder of a VIVACOM holding company, V2 Investment S.a.r.l., , the loan's collateral, 100% shares of Vivacom's holding company, InterV Investment S.a.r.l., was sold at an auction which Empreno has been arguing was sham and artificial resulting in the sale of VIVACOM at a significant undervalue. The auction was conducted by Ernst&Young with the participation of major international bidders, including US companies. After 20 rounds of bidding, a consortium of financial investors led by Spas Roussev was declared the winner and new owner of Vivacom. The consortium included VTB Capital and Delta company with its owner Milen Velchev, CEO of VTB Capital AD (the bank's Bulgarian subsidiary). However, businessman Mark Schneider backed by CVC private equity funds who also initially attempted to bid for the telecom operator but then was practically squeezed out of the auction process criticised it in the media.
According to the witness statement of Jocelyn Bennett who was the trustee of Spas Roussev family trust Mr Roussev “fronted” VTB Capital without having the means even to pay a deposit to participate in the auction[***][****]. The auction and subsequent sale are still subject to ongoing legal proceedings in the UK, Luxembourg and the United States pursued by Empreno and V2 Investment S.a.r.l.
As of December 31, 2016, Vivacom is the third largest mobile operator in Bulgaria, based on the number of subscribers. The company's mobile service revenue market share is approximately 28% for the year ended December 31, 2016.
As the end of 2016, Vivacom's mobile network has the following coverage of the Bulgarian population:
- 2G (GSM/GRPS/EDGE) - 99.99%;
- 3G (UMTS/HSPA+) - 99.98%;
- 4G (LTE) - 86.75%.
Vivacom's 4G network has received the highest score – GWS OneScore – for speed measurement done in Sofia, Ruse, Sozopol, Kavarna and settlements on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast. The measurement of the five existing in Bulgaria LTE networks was performed by Global Wireless Solutions (GWS) on their methodology in the period 15.10–15.11.2016.
Vivacom is the incumbent in the fixed voice market with 82% revenue share as at December 31, 2016.
As of December 31, 2016 Vivacom is the largest fixed broadband operator with 26% subscriber market share.
As of the end of 2016, Vivacom is positioned as the third largest pay-TV provider and the largest IPTV operator.
- Spas Rusev - Member of the Supervisory Board
- Bojan Ivanovic - Member of the Supervisory Board
- Zeno Meier - Member of the Supervisory Board
- Bruno Ducharme - Member of the Supervisory Board
- Franz Hoerhager - Member of the Supervisory Board
- Atanas Dobrev - Member of the Managing Board, Chief Executive Officer
- Radoslav Zlatkov - Chief Technical Officer
- Ivo Zlatev - Chief Legal Officer
- Dimitris Lioupis - Chief Marketing Officer
- Miroslav Petrov - Chief Sales Officer
- Asen Velikov - Chief Financial Officer
Ownership Dispute and SaleEdit
In 2016, Vivacom became a subject of the ownership dispute between VTB and Empreno Ventures, a Russian company that bought a stake in the controlling company. Empreno Ventures has launched litigation against VTB Capital, Mr Roussev and Mr Veltchev. According to the civil proceedings in the United Kingdom and criminal filing in Luxembourg, Empreno Ventures claims "the auction was a “sham” and Vivacom was sold to the consortium at an artificially low price.
In 2019, VTB announced the sale of Vivacom, but the deal has been tarred with the unresolved legal dispute with Empreno Ventures.
- Historical summary – Bulgarian Posts website
- Editorial, Reuters. "UPDATE 1-RLPC-Bulgaria's Vivacom gets court approval for restructuring". U.S. Retrieved 2018-04-15.
- BSH. "BOYANOV & Co. Advises on "Probably the Most Complicated Deal in Bulgaria Ever" « Borislav Boyanov & Co". boyanov.com. Retrieved 2018-04-15.
- "Empreno Ventures". Empreno Ventures (in Russian). Retrieved 2019-11-25.
- Fildes, Nick. "Financial Times". The Financial Times.
- "Subscribe to read". Financial Times. Retrieved 2019-10-01.
- "UPDATE 1-Bulgarian telecoms firm Vivacom expects indicative offers by end-July". Reuters. 2019-07-12. Retrieved 2019-10-01.