World VoIP NewsVivacom will be acquired by Hong Kong billionaire Richard LiVivacom will be acquired by Hong Kong billionaire Richard Li

Vivacom will be acquired by Hong Kong billionaire Richard Li


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Vivacom owners in debt talks.
A deal for the sale of Vivacom, the new name for Bulgarian Telecoms Company, to Richard Li, chairman of Asian telco PCCW, is expected to be finalised shortly, according to local newspaper reports. ‘Vivacom will be acquired by Hong Kong billionaire Richard Li within weeks,’ 24 Hours daily reported, citing unnamed insiders. According to the article the businessman paid a visit to Bulgaria on Wednesday and presented his investment plans at a meeting with prime minister Boyko Borisov. Li is believed to be planning to pour EUR500 million (USD605 million) into the company over the next five years.

Li inherited control of Vivacom in March as part of the acquisition of AIG Investments, a unit of the troubled US insurance group which spans asset management and private equity investments. The unit was renamed Pinebridge Investments ahead of the takeover by Li's Pacific Century group. Earlier in the week foreign media reports said that Richard Li was in crisis talks with lenders and the Bulgarian government over Vivacom. Vivacom, which has about USD2.4 billion of debt, may breach its loan agreement as its profit was deemed insufficient compared with its borrowings, sources said. According to unconfirmed information the creditors, including RBS, Deutsche Bank and RZB, have approved the proposed restructuring of the debt and the finalisation of the sale deal.

Vivacom is currently owned by NEF Telecom Bulgaria, a unit of AIG Global Investment.

US insurance giant AIG bought 90% of the company's shares in August 2007 for EUR 1,4 B, later launching an offer to buy out the remaining shares.

Vivacom dominates the fixed-line segment with 2.9 million phone lines, which accounts for 97% of the market, but it has been losing customers at an alarming rate in recent years, due to the spread of mobile communications and alternative telecoms in the country, Novinite.com reports.


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