Russian TV Station in Shares Buyback Battle

11 August 2005

Just a month after selling their stake in Russian broadcaster Ren-TV, the network's founders want to buy back at least some of their shares.

Irena and Dmitry Lesnevsky sold their 30% holding to Bertelsmann-owned broadcasting giant RTL Group, while the other shareholder, Unified Energy Systems, sold its 70% stake to Russian steel firm Severstal [WAMN: 05-Jul-05].

Loud whispers about political interference in the purchase of the last bastion of independent TV news in Russia have been hushed by UES. But Severstal's founder and billionaire ceo Alexei Mordashov worked on President Vladimir Putin's 2004 election campaign.

The Lesnevsky pairing will come up against the might of Rupert Murdoch in their pursuit of 19% of Ren-TV shares. The News Corporation mogul, keen to make his mark on the Russian broadcasting landscape, is negotiating with Severstal about a 35% stake in the network, with its potential 97 million audience [WAMN: 03-Aug-05].

Data sourced from Moscow Times Online; additional content by WARC staff