Swedes buy Bulgarian cable companies

By Pavlina Jeleva
    The Swedish investment fund EQT V (EQT) (www.eqt.dk) has paid €210 million for the acquisition of the two Bulgarian major cable operator, Eurocom (ekk.bg) and Cabletel (www.cabletel.bg).

    The deal follows the €620 million paid by the Swedish Modern Times Group (MTG) (www.mtg.se ) for the acquisition of Nova TV (www.novatv.bg ) and the Diema channels (www.diema.bg), and the €110 million paid by the Central European Media Enterprices (СМЕ) (www.cetv-net.com) for Pro BG (formerly TV2) (probg.bg).

    The former national competitors already received the official approval of the Bulgarian Commission for Protection of Competition (www.cpc.bg ) for a possible merger. They plan to operate separately through the end of 2009. In 2010, along with Macedonian Cabletel, the new company will appear as a single operator.

    With expected profits of €70 M per year and nearly 500,000 subscribers, it intends to become the leading cable operator in Bulgaria by modernizing the cable network and introducing digital and High Tech standards.EQT partner Piotr Czapski said in Sofia that "the first EQT V deal in Eastern Europe will help to overcome the actual fragmentation of the Bulgarian market and will introduce more competitiveness."

    Bulgarian National Television, meanwhile, is struggling to attract audiences. Celebrating its 50th anniversary on November 7, the channel is reviving a popular series, which it is financing and producing. Ten years after the first broadcast the fresh and funny Clinic on the 3rd Floor, stars Stefania Koleva and Hristo Mutafchiev are reunited for 12 new episodes in 2009.