United Group in talks to buy Bulgaria's Vivacom - sources

Oct 17 (Reuters) - Balkan telecoms and media company United Group B.V. is in discussions to acquire Bulgaria’s leading telecoms operator Vivacom, which went up for sale in July this year, two sources familiar with the matter said on Thursday.

Vivacom’s main shareholder, Bulgarian businessman Spas Roussev, confirmed in July that a sale process was underway and that Lazard had been hired to handle it.

Market sources, at the time, estimated Vivacom’s enterprise value to exceed 1.2 billion euros ($1.34 billion), including net debt of about 600 million euros. United Group’s offer was near that value, the sources said.

The deal comes after United Group, which is owned by BC Partners, acquired Croatian telecoms operator Tele2 Croatia in May for 220 million euros ($245 million) to expand its presence in south-eastern Europe.

The Financial Times first reported the news of the deal. United Group, BC Partners and Vivacom declined to comment.

In March, BC Partners completed the acquisition of a majority stake in United Group from KKR, in one of the biggest private equity deals in the region. ($1 = 0.8988 euros) (Reporting by Mekhla Raina in Bengaluru; editing by David Evans)