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Billionaire Prokhorov Bids for 100% Stake in Russian Daily Vedomosti

Published: July 12, 2014 (Issue # 1819)



  • Billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov has attempted to buy Vedomosti newspaper on a number of occasions.
    Photo: Sergei Porter / Vedomosti

Onexim Group, owned by billionaire and Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov, has bid to purchase 100 percent of shares in the influential Russian business daily Vedomosti, Russian media reported, citing sources close to the tender.

Vedomosti — which is published in tandem with the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal — is one of a handful of Russian newspaper and magazine assets owned by Sanoma Independent Media, or SIM, a subsidiary of struggling Finnish media group Sanoma, which is unloading its Russian operations in an effort to firm up its bottom line.

Citibank, which was hired to manage the sale of SIM, is expected on Friday to close the call for bids on Vedomosti and other assets included in the company's portfolio, the report said.

SIM also publishes The St. Petersburg Times and a series of glossy magazines such as Cosmopolitan, Esquire, Harper's Bazaar and National Geographic through a cluster of Russian publishing houses.

Onexim has sent an official letter to Citibank offering to buy a 100 percent stake in Vedomosti, ITAR-Tass reported Thursday, citing a source who had seen the document and confirmation from a media executive familiar with the negotiations.

Prokhorov, whose wealth is estimated by Forbes at $11 billion, has already made multiple attempts to buy Vedomosti, several of his acquaintances told the paper. The sources also told Vedomosti that Derk Sauer, the Dutch founder of The Moscow Times and SIM, has been nudging him in this direction.

Sauer himself — who two years ago left SIM to head Russian media group RBC, in which Prokhorov holds a controlling stake — expressed interest in buying Vedomosti in an interview with The St. Petersburg Times in November last year.

"Vedomosti is a good business, it has good prospects and it is important for the market and for the media," Sauer said at the time.

While Onexim is primarily interested in Vedomosti, other SIM assets could also potentially be part of the sale, ITAR-Tass reported.

SIM owns only a 33 percent share in Vedomosti, so if Prokhorov wants operational control of the newspaper he would also need to purchase two equal stakes owned by Dow Jones and the FT Group, owners of The Wall Street Journal and The Financial Times, respectively.

SIM had been negotiating with Dow Jones and FT Group to sell its stake in Vedomosti, but talks were delayed earlier this year due to the crisis in Ukraine, ITAR-Tass reported.

Representatives of Onexim, Citibank, Sanoma and SIM declined Vedomosti's requests for comment.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Dec. 26


Celebrate Boxing Day by playing various tabletop games during the British Book Center’s Board Game Evening tonight at 5 p.m. Spread the Christmas cheer and goodwill by making other people regret their decision to come and try to match their intellectual prowess against yours.



Saturday, Dec. 27


Indulge cultural and material needs simultaneously during the free classical music concert at the Galeria shopping mall in the heart of the city. Starting at 7 p.m., shoppers and mallwalkers will be able to hear the sounds of Tchaikovsky and Strauss softly lilt over the constant buzz of people bustling from store to store, trying to get their shopping done before New Year.



Sunday, Dec. 28


Prepare for the holidays at the Russian Winter New Year’s Fair on Moskovskaya Ploshchad, which concludes today after starting on Dec. 22. Games and attractions as well as numerous performances will be on offer for those looking to get into the spirit while numerous vendors will help make sure you have something for everyone on your list.



Monday, Dec. 29


Learn how the Swedes observe Christmas, or Jul, in their land of ice and snow, during aSwedish Christmas celebration at the Lermontov Children’s Library this afternoon at 4 p.m. Activities explaining and demonstrating Sweden’s cultural traditions will be accompanied by traditional dishes and sweets.



Tuesday, Dec. 30


Today is the final day of the Christmas Market at the Europolis shopping center on Polyustrovsky prospekt. Indulge your holiday sweet tooth by tucking into some gingerbread men, or attend one of the master classes that will teach you about how to make beautiful, festive decorations for your tree using only your hands.



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