Deals for ownership of Russia's last privately-owned television broadcaster, Ren-TV, have been finalized.
European TV giant RTL Group has acquired a 30% stake in Ren-TV, while Russian steel firm Severstal holds 35% and oil group Surgutneftegas another 35%, placing seventy percent of the broadcaster in Kremlin-friendly hands.
The new shareholders have appointed Alexander Ordzhonikidze as ceo. He takes over from the station's founders, Irena Lesnevskaya and her son Dmitri, who step down at the end of this week.
Ordzhonikidze has worked for a number of Russian energy companies but is new to the TV business. In terms of TV knowhow, he will rely heavily on his deputy, RTL's Ralph Siebenaler, who has played a key role in that company's eastward expansion.
Analysts fear Ren-TV's editorial independence may be compromised as Surgut ceo and founder Alexei Mordashov is widely perceived as a Kremlin acolyle.
The billionaire businessman was pivotal to president Vladimir Putin's election success last year and could exert the same influence over the 2008 poll.
Data sourced from Moscow Times.com; additional content by WARC staff