The company Louvrier Investment Company (LIC33) has appealed the decision of the Bulgarian Commission for Protection of Competition (CPC) for the sale of the telekom Vivacom to Spas Russev, Bivol learned from CPC.

The lawsuit has been filed on February 1 this year and the first hearing is scheduled for October 26, 2016.

Citing the Access to Public Information Act (APIA), Bivol requested from CPC clarification on decision number 989/2015 of the CPC, which approves the deal for the sale of the telecom to Viva Telecom Luxembourg. The Commission, however, replied that the entire original file is in the Supreme Administrative Court (SAC).

The registered in Luxembourg company LIC33 or Louvrier Investment Company 33 rose to fame in March 2015, when Belgian Pierre Louvrier stated at a press briefing in Sofia that he was buying for one euro the telecom Vivacom, the military factory “Dunarit”, TV7 and other assets of banker Tsvetan Vasilev, who is hiding in Belgrade.

An investigation of Bivol then revealed that Pierre Louvrier maintains close links with Russian oligarch Malofeev, associated with President Putin. Malofeev, on his part, maintains close ties with leaders of non-separatists pro-Russian regions of Ukraine and is a key person in the Russian policy of waging a hybrid war abroad, including through the funding of political parties in the European Union (EU) as France’s National Front.

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After the publication of Bivol’s investigation, the State imposed a lien on the assets and Pierre Louvrier announced that he was no longer interested in the deal. Obviously, to date, the saga involving the Belgian has not concluded.

(Expect further details)

Here are the questions that Bivol sent to the CPC and to which we received no response because the file is in SAC:

  • Please indicate the amount of capital of Viva Telecom Luxembourg and of its beneficiary owners. Is Spas Russev, referred to in the press, such owner and of what stake? Who are the other beneficiary owners, if any?
  • What are the sources of funds (in the amount of about 330 million euro, according to media publications) used by Viva Telecom Luxembourg to acquire InterV Investment S.a.r.l.? In the event that part of these funds was provided by third parties, what is the control of such third parties on Viva Telecom Luxembourg?
  • Are you aware of and have you been given a prior approval of contractual commitments and opportunities for further changes in ownership and control over Viva Telecom Luxembourg, as listed below? In particular, we mean contracts for future delivery of shares, contracts for financial options, management contracts or similar arrangements. Please confirm or reject the CPC’s possession of information about the presence of such arrangements with each of the following groups:

(A) Persons from the group of VTB OAO (together referred to as VTB), including holding or subsidiary companies of VTB or its significant shareholders and directors;

(B) Persons from the group of First Investment Bank (together referred to as FIB), including holding or subsidiary companies of FIB or its significant shareholders and directors;

The hypothesis mentioned above could have consequences such as concentration in the EU (in connection with the activities of subsidiaries of VTB in many EU countries). Is there consent of the relevant EU institutions for such concentration?

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