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MEDIA

The European Commission (EC) has approved unconditionally the proposed acquisition of broadcaster Central European Media Enterprises (CME) by PPF Group. That was the last obstacle to the acquisition of Bulgaria's bTV, as well as channels in the Czech Republic, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia by the fund of Czech businessman Petr Kellner. He is also the owner of Bulgaria's Telenor mobile operator. EC's approval comes nearly a year after the $2.1 billion acquisition was first announced. CME said this completes all the regulatory requirements and the takeover should close on 13 October as a result.

DAIRY

Greek investment company Marfin Investment Group Holdings said that it entered into exclusive talks with Luxembourg-headquartered CVC Capital Partners for the sale of its entire stake in Vivartia, the indirect owner of Bulgaria's United Milk Company. The exclusivity period for the negotiations and the completion of the agreement will last until November 11. Vivartia is the owner of Greece's Delta Foods, which in turn owns 100% of United Milk Company. United Milk Company booked sales of 83.2 million leva (€42.5 million) and a net profit of 9.1 million leva in 2018, according to its latest available annual financial statement.

AUTOMOTIVE

Bulgarian company Robert Bosch, a unit of German automotive parts and consumer goods group Bosch, plans to hire 350 highly skilled specialists at its 8.7 million leva (€4.4 million) software engineering centre in Sofia. Bosch opened the engineering centre in October 2019. The company said at the time that the new centre, to work in close cooperation with Bosch's engineering centres in Hungary and Romania, will employ nearly 200 people who will be developing innovative software solutions for the automotive industry.

Royal estate Bulgaria's Supreme Court ruled in October that ex-king and Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha is the legitimate owner of the Tsarska Bistritsa palace near the Borovets ski resort. The palace, built by his grandfather Ferdinand I, was nationalized in 1946 by the Communist authorities that overthrew the monarchy two years earlier. Previously, the Bulgarian state had won legal disputes over three other properties, including the Vrana royal park in Sofia.

Innovation

In September Bulgaria launched a new state Agency for Innovation that will govern the most recent European fund for "Scientific research, innovation and digitalization for intelligent transformation." Based on the models of Innovate UK and the Swiss Innosuisse, the new Agency will oversee technology transfer from universities to companies and connect science with business. The overall budget of the program is estimated to reach 860 million euro for the upcoming 7-year program period.

Salaries

The income of Bulgarian workers is steadily on the rise for both the lowest and the higher brackets, National Revenue Agency data presented in Parliament shows. The number of employees who declare a gross salary of more than 2000 BGN (1000 euro) has increased by 2/3 in the past two years, reaching 261,000 people. This makes up 11% of the 2,3 million workers, while 62% declare they earn less than 1000 BGN (500 euro), down from 75,5% in 2018.

AUTOMOTIVE

Germany's VolaPlast will manufacture automotive components near the town of Kyustendil. The company will invest €4 million in its first production facility outside Germany. The factory will start manufacturing high-precision injection moulded plastic parts and assembled windshield cleaning systems in February 2021 to supply well-known OEMs and Tier-1 customers. The plant will initially employ approximately 30 people. In a long-term perspective, the company plans to have 100 to 120 employees.

COURIERS

France's GeoPost is seeking anti-trust approval to become the majority owner of Bulgarian express delivery company Speedy, the Commission for Protection of Competition said. In June, Speedy said that its current majority owner, Speedy Group, has agreed to extend the deadline for exercising a call option for a 45-per cent stake in Speedy held by France's GeoPost by the end of January 2021. The change was dictated by administrative hurdles created by the coronavirus pandemic. In 2014, Speedy acquired GeoPost's units in Romania and Bulgaria, while GeoPost agreed to acquire 25% of Speedy with the option to increase its stake to 70%.

RETAIL

German hypermarket chain Kaufland is expanding its delivery service in Eastern European countries to include Bulgaria. The delivery service will be operated by Germany-based Foodpanda. There will be around 400 items available in Sofia, Burgas, Plovdiv and Varna, including food and drink, sweets, cosmetics and baby products. Shopping can be done online or through the Foodpanda app. The minimum order is 30 leva (€15.34) and delivery is free.

MEDIA

Nova Broadcasting Group has finally acquired full control of Bulgaria's largest online group, Net Info. The deal for the remaining 30% in the company was approved by the Commission for Protection of Competition back in February but talks continued on the price with the shareholders: Darin Radio and Web Finance. The transaction has been already entered in the Trae Register. Thus Nova Broadcasting Group becomes the sole owner of Net Info through the acquisition of 27% in the online group from Darik Radio and 3% from Web Finance.

FOOD

Food processing company Bella Bulgaria, part Impala Invest Group, has acquired Greek processed meat and dairy food producer Creta Farms for an undisclosed price. Bella acquired Creta Farms under a decision by a Greek court based in Rethymno. The Bulgarian company said it was selected as the new owner of troubled Creta Farms in a procedure in which several candidates seeking to acquire Creta Farms competed by offering business restructuring plans for the Greek company. According to Impala Invest Group, this is the biggest foreign investment by a Bulgarian food company. The buyer aims to position Creta Farms as the market leader in the near future.

RETAIL

Romanian e-retailer eMag has opened its first showroom in Bulgaria as part of plans to expand in the country both online and offline. The company said it opened the new centre as a result of an increase in local e-commerce. The showroom is located in Serdika Center, one of the largest shopping malls in the capital city. Customers can shop there, make online orders and receive delivered goods, as well as return purchased items. The centre follows eMAG's model in Romania, where the retailer has 15 showrooms in different cities. It opened its first similar centre in Hungary three months ago.

AUTOMOTIVE

Local car dealer Sofia France Auto is seeking approval to acquire 100% of its peer Opel Automotive Bulgaria, the Commission for Protection of Competition (CPC) said. The deal will expand Sofia France Auto's automotive business even further. The company is the official importer of Peugeot and controls one of the two Sofia dealerships of BMW and Mini, Auto Bavaria. It also has a lot of other assets in the automotive sector. Opel Automotive Bulgaria is the official importer of Opel cars.

MEDIA

The European Commission (EC) has approved unconditionally the proposed acquisition of broadcaster Central European Media Enterprises (CME) by PPF Group. That was the last obstacle to the acquisition of Bulgaria's bTV, as well as channels in the Czech Republic, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia by the fund of Czech businessman Petr Kellner. He is also the owner of Bulgaria's Telenor mobile operator. EC's approval comes nearly a year after the $2.1 billion acquisition was first announced. CME said this completes all the regulatory requirements and the takeover should close on 13 October as a result.

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