Bulgaria's Vivacom faces new ownership change - report

Bulgaria's Vivacom faces new ownership change - report

The Hong Kong private equity fund that owns Bulgaria's leading fixed-line telecommunications provider Vivacom could lose control of the telecom, Reuters said on June 15, quoting a report in the South China Morning Post.Bulgarian regulators approved the sale of Vivacom, previously owned by the investment arm of US insurance giant AIG, to PineBridge Investments in December 2009. PineBridge is owned by Richard Li, chairperson of PCCW, Hong Kong's biggest fixed-line phone company, the report said.Vivacom's creditors, which included US hedge fund Tennenbaum Capital Partners and French insurer AXA's private equity arm, "wanted to take a majority stake in the company by swapping their loans for shares", the report said, citing people involved in discussions."Li took control of Vivacom when he bought PineBridge from US insurer American International Group Inc in March. The fund lead a consortium that invested 460 million euro in Vivacom in August 2007," Reuters said."Royal Bank of Scotland and Deutsche Bank , which lead a group of senior lenders owed one billion euro by Vivacom, would judge who wins the fight and make a decision by the end of this week, a person involved in the talks told the newspaper."PineBridge reportedly has asked the banks to write off 200 million euro worth of Vivacom debt and a group of so-called "second lien" lenders, owed 200 million euro, had been asked to exchange their debts for Vivacom shares, but PineBridge had not proposed giving the mezzanine lenders anything, the report said, as quoted by Reuters.Vivacom is Bulgaria's former state-owned fixed-line monopoly Bulgarian Telecommunications Company, which now offers mobile telecommunications and broadband internet services.

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