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Mobile deal gets through in the end

Bulgaria cleared an important hurdle when it finally approved the sale of mobile phone company BTC to a consortium led by Advent International in February, in one of the region's largest leveraged buy-outs. Financing for the deal finally closed in June. Gyuri Karady of Baring Private Equity Partners says: ?It tested the legal framework in Bulgaria, and it looks like the rule of law prevailed, which is a triumph for Bulgaria.? Progress on the deal was one of the factors that helped the country obtain an investment-grade rating later in the year.

The long saga of BTC's privatization began in 2000, when Bulgaria tried and failed to sell the company to strategic buyers.

Then, in 2002, it tried again, and this time attracted bids from two consortia.

One, led by Advent, included Enterprise Investors and was backed by financing from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Mezzanine Management and Bank Austria.

The other included Turk Telecom and Koc Holding, the Turkish company in which Unicredit has a stake.

Advent's consortium, called Viva Ventures, bid about e210 million for the 65% stake, and the Turkish consortium bid e185 million. At the time, some trade unions and members of parliament complained that the bids were too low.

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