Austria’s S&T takes over Moldovan IT company Bass Systems

Austria’s S&T takes over Moldovan IT company Bass Systems
By Iulian Ernst in Bucharest September 2, 2019

One of the leading providers of IT services and solutions in Central and Eastern Europe, S&T of Austria, has bought 51% of Moldovan company Bass Systems, newsmaker.md reported quoting media from Taiwan where S&T's largest shareholder is based. 

Bass Systems is known for having won large contracts with the state during the Democratic Party's rule that came to an end in June, reports newsmaker.md, implying that it might have been under the control of businessmen connected to the former regime of Vlad Plahotniuc. It is the latest of a series of deals by which businessmen close to the Democratic Party or who thrived during the last few years are selling their assets to legitimate foreign investors. The largest such deal is the controversial sale of Avia Invest, the company that operates Chisinau Airpoirt, to a fund owned by Nathaniel Rothschild.

S&T reportedly signed the deal to acquire the controlling package in Bass Systems on August 28, and the price was about €5.7mn, according to Newsmaker.md's source source. Whose share was purchased is not yet known.

Bass Systems was founded in 2008. Its co-founders are the Cypriot company Assentis Holdings Limited (72%) and Moldovan SP-Com SRL (28%). The founder and owner of the latter is Onisim Popescu. The representative of the Cypriot company in Moldova is Sergiu Talpa.

Talpa is also the director of Switchover, which provides termination services for Moldtelecom.

According to the press, the company could have had links with the former speaker of the parliament and deputy chairman of the Democratic Party, Andrian Candu. Talpa studied at the same university as Candu at the same time.

At the beginning of August 2019, Dan Perciun, a deputy from the ruling ACUM bloc, appealed to the Competition Council, where he asked for verification of the monopolies on the IT services market. According to his calculations, 50% of the market was controlled by two companies: Bass Systems and SC DAAC System Integrator.

According to Perciun's estimates, from 2016 to 2019, Bass Systems received contracts for MDL437mn (over €20mn). Moreover, in most of the bids it won, the company was the only bidder. Among its customers are the Ministry of Interior and Railways of Moldova. In 2018, the company was re-named after the information system it installed in hospitals began to crash regularly. 

S&T AG, which acquired a controlling interest in Bass Systems, specialises in IT consulting and services. The company operates in 18 countries, including Moldova, Romania, Russia, Poland and Germany. The total sales of the company last year amounted to €991mn. In Moldova, S&T offers IT outsourcing, IT infrastructure support and other services.

The largest stake in S&T AG (26%) belongs to the Taiwanese giant in the design and manufacture of electronics, Ennoconn Corporation. The remaining shareholders own 5.01% or less of the shares.

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