Russia's VTB gets bid interest for Bulgarian tobacco firm stake

SOFIA/MOSCOW Thu Feb 13, 2014 5:59am EST

SOFIA/MOSCOW Feb 13 (Reuters) - A Lichtenstein-registered company has expressed an interest in buying Russian bank VTB's 79.8 percent stake in Bulgarian tobacco company Bulgartabak, according to Bulgaria's competition watchdog.

State-controlled VTB, Russia's second-biggest bank, won a tender to buy the stake in Bulgartabak in 2011 for 100 million euros ($136 million) via its Austrian-registered BT Invest.

"The commission has received a notification for the intention of Lichtenstein-registered Livero Establishments to acquire control over Austria's BT Invest," Bulgaria's Commission for Protection of Competition said on Thursday.

Bulgartabak is traded on the Bulgarian Stock Exchange and has a market capitalization of 766 million levs ($532 million).

Bulgarian newspaper Capital Daily has quoted sources as saying Tsvetan Vasilev, the controlled shareholder of Bulgarian Corporate Commercial Bank, may be connected with Livero Establishments, along with other Bulgarian businessmen.

VTB and Bulgartabak declined comment. Vasilev was not immediately available to comment.

($1 = 1.4393 Bulgarian levs)

($1 = 0.7359 euros) (Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova and Oksana Kobzeva; Writing by Megan Davies; Editing by Mark Potter)

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