SCOUTS STOOGE ABOUT BTC
The International Financial Cirporation (IFC) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) have announced their intentions to participate in the privatisation of the Bulgarian Telecommunications Company (BTC), Minister of Transport and Telecommunications Plamen Petrov announced. The two institutions have offered different ways of financing. They may invest in BTC's modernization, buy a minority package of stocks (thus assisting the candidate bidders) and extend to the telecom a loan convertible into shares. According to Mr. Petrov, the Government should decide if the two institutions would participate as partners when the deal is being closed or as creditors to the new owner. The EBRD and the IFC are ready to invest up to EUR100MN in the development of the Bulgarian telecom.OTE is the only company which has been named as a potential investor in the strategy for BTC's privatisation. The Greek company was a candidate for the purchase of the Bulgarian telecom in the summer of 2000 when together with the Dutch KPN almost won our telecom infrastructure. However, the deal was brought to nought and a feew months later OTE won the tender for the second Bulgarian GSM-operator. The Greek telecom holds shares in the national telecommunication companies of Romania, Armenia and Yugoslavia. The BTC is within the plans of Bulgaria's southern neighbour for invasion onto the regional telecommmunications market. Turk Telecom is the leading operator of fixed telecommunication services in Bulgaria's southeastern neighbour. The Turkish Government is presently selling 45% of its capital. A week ago the Director General of Turk Telecom Ibrahim Haku Alkaturk was in Sofia and personally confirmed the interest towards the purchase of the Bulgarian telecom in a packages with the third GSM-licence. Turk telecom was one of the two Turkish companies which were willing to get licence for the second Bulgarian GSM-operator, but withdrew from the bidding.The Israeli Ganden Group has a number of joint projects with companies of the Diamong King Lev Levaev, mainly in the sphere of telecommunications. The company's turnover reached some USD1BN and its other interests are in aviation, leisure industry, and high technologies. Ganden Group holds 81% of the shares in Israel's national airlines.Last month Sweden's Ambassador to Bulgaria H.E. Sten Ask announced that SwedeTel was interested in BTC's privatisation. The company is a subsidiary between the Swedish operator of the fixed telecommunications network Telia and the investment fund Industry Capital, and implements high-tech projects outside Sweden.The Russian company Systema, which inherited the former Soviet telecom Soyuzsvyazinvest, also intends to try its luck in the bidding for the BTC, Deputy Premier and Minister of Economy Nikolai Vassilev announced on his return from Moscow. Apart from telecommunications, Systema has interests in the insurance and finance sestors, petrol industry, etc. The Russian company will probably bid in the privatisation tender through its subsidiary Systema Telecom, which operates mobile and fixed telecommunication networks.The banker from Sri Lanka Pravin Banker also arrived in Bulgaria to take part in the procedure for BTC's dievstment. He has met Trnsport Minsiter Petrov and offered to set up a financial consortium, which would take part in the bidding for the BTC. The businessman has invested in Bulgarian Brady bonds, and according to pundits he holds shares in Sodi of Devnya, Union Miniere amd the privatisation fund Doverie.