BULGARIA – The Bulgarian Finance Ministry told IPE it might investigate the sale of the country's largest pension fund Doverie, even if the supervisory authority FSC gives the go-ahead.

The deal between Austrian insurance group VIG and UK-based investor United Capital has come in for fierce criticism in Bulgaria since the sale of the pension fund was announced on Tuesday.

Industry representatives, unions and politicians have expressed concerns over the transparency of United Capital's capital and ownership structure.

In a statement sent to IPE, the Finance Ministry confirmed that finance minister Petar Chobanov would consider launching an investigation of the deal even if it were approved by the supervisory authority FSC, which is expected to make its decision in the coming weeks.

"In the event that the deal is approved, the minister said its genesis and the way it was processed should be thoroughly studied so that people's savings are secured," the ministry said.

However, the minister also acknowledged the independence of the FSC, which "has to take into consideration all the facts and circumstances regarding the deal and the new owner of Doverie to make an independent decision".

According to people familiar with the Bulgarian market, even people within Doverie had only heard about the closure of the sale from the press release issued by the VIG.