Vivacom stake sold for €1

A Luxembourg-registered group has bought company stakes owned by fugitive Bulgarian tycoon Tsvetan Vassilev for €1, including 43 per cent in Bulgaria’s biggest telco Vivacom.

Vassilev was at the centre of a scandal last year when a bank he majority-owned, Corporate Commercial Bank, was hit by a run on deposits and shut down. He was subsequently charged with embezzlement and has accused unnamed “political hyenas” in Bulgaria of trying to grasp control of his businesses while he awaits the outcome of extradition hearings in Serbia.

LIC33 Group, a private investment company set up for the transactions, said it had bought stakes in the Balkan country’s largest telco by revenue, Vivacom, and five other unlisted businesses. It went out of its way to deny that LIC33 was a front for Vassilev, but the government said it wanted more information about the origins of LIC33’s funds to ensure they were lawful.

A spokeswoman for Vivacom said it had not been informed of any shareholder changes. Russia’s VTB Bank , which owns a third of the telco, has declined to comment.

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