SOFIA, March 18 Greek telecoms operator OTE has extended by a month the deadline for bids for its Bulgarian unit Globul, expected to fetch some 700 million euros ($915 million), two sources familiar with the process said.
Turk Telekom, mobile phone operator Turkcell and Norway's Telenor, as well as Deutsche Telekom, which has a 40 percent stake in OTE, have expressed interest in Globul, sources have said.
They were expected to file binding offers by March 18 but OTE has extended the timeframe as both the company and the bidders needed more time to prepare legal documents, a source with direct knowledge of the process told Reuters on Monday.
"The deadline has been pushed back by a month until April 18," a second source said.
OTE announced plans to sell Globul, Bulgaria's second- biggest mobile operator, last year as part of its efforts to refinance 1.65 billion euros of debt by early 2014.
Earlier this month OTE Chief Executive Michael Tsamaz said OTE might decide not to sell, after it secured 700 million euros through a bond issue and sold its satellite unit Hellas SAT for 208 million euros.
The bond issue covered a large part of OTE's debt repayment obligations for this year, easing its liquidity strains to the extent the company may cope with its debt even without having to sell Globul.
Globul accounts for about 7 percent of OTE's sales and about 9 percent of earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA). Globul's EBITDA margin for 2012 was about 36 percent, slightly higher than 35 percent for the entire group.
In Bulgaria, Globul competes with Telekom Austria Mobiltel and Vivacom, recently acquired by a Bulgarian banker and Russia's VTB Bank. ($1 = 0.7654 euros) (Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova; Editing by David Holmes)