MOBIKOM TO STOP OPERATIONS
Bulgaria's first mobile operator Mobikom is going to stop operations by the middle of 2005, the BANKER weekly learned. Earlier, the Bulgarian Telecommunications Company (BTC) will buy the 49% stake held by the British Cable Wireless in the company exploiting the analogue mobile network. At Christmas eve two State commissions - the Commission for Regulation of Telecommunications (CRT) and the Commission for Protection of Competition (CPC) permitted BTC to buy the shares held by the British company. The price of the deal was not announced. After the contract is signed, BTC will be holding an 88% stake of Mobikom's capital. The rest of the shares will remain property of Radioelectronic Systems - a state-owned company included in the system of the Ministry of Interior. The telecom is also buying 66% of the shares held by the Greek Intracom in Bulfon, the phone cards joint-venture. Until recently, BTC only held 34% of that company.We haven't decided what Mobikom is going to do yet, but we are considering several possibilities. However, it is certain that the analogue network will not be used as a basis for the third GSM operator. We are building an entirely new infrastructure for it, BTC officials explained. The company intends to start offering mobile GSM services next April. Mobikom has about 100,000 subscribers who will probably be transferred to the new operator free of charge. According to sources of the BANKER weekly, the decisions of the the antitrust and of the telecom regulatory commission, will be appealed against by the other market players - GloBul and MobilTel. That will delay the deal. The managers of BTC are now holding a competition to choose a manager of the third mobile operator. However, the post will certainly not be taken by Mobikom's former director John Munnery who is running the project for construction of the new mobile network, sources from the company revealed.