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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

Saturday, Nov. 1


The men and women who dedicate their lives to fitness get their chance to compete for the title of best body in Russia at today’s Grand Prix Fitness House PRO, the nation’s premier bodybuilding competition. Not only will men and women be competing for thousands of dollars in prizes and a trip to represent their nation at Mr. Olympia but sporting goods and nutritional supplements will also be available for sale. Learn more about the culture of the Indian subcontinent during Diwali, the annual festival of lights that will be celebrated in St. Petersburg this weekend at the Culture Palace on Tambovskaya Ul. For 100 rubles ($2.40), festival-goers listen to Indian music, try on traditional Indian outfits and sample dishes highlighting the culinary diversity of the billion-plus people in the South Asian superpower.



Sunday, Nov. 2


Check out the latest video and interactive games at the Gaming Festival at the Mayakovsky Library ending today. Meet with the developers of the popular and learn more about their work, or learn how to play one of their creations with the opportunity to ask the creators themselves about the exact rules.



Monday, Nov. 3


Non-athletes can get feed their need for competition without breaking a sweat at the Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament this evening at the Cube Bar at Lomonosova 1. Referees will judge the validity of each matchup award points to winners while the city’s elite fight for the chance to be called the best of the best. Those hoping to play must arrange a team beforehand and pay 200 rubles ($4.80) to enter.



Tuesday, Nov. 4


Attend the premiere of Canadian director Xavier Dolan’s latest film “Mommy” at the Avrora theater this evening. The fifth picture from the 25-year-old, it is the story of an unruly teenager but the most alluring (or unappealing) aspect is the way the film was shot: in a 1:1 format that is more reminiscent of Instagram videos than cinematic art. Tickets cost 400 rubles ($9.60) and snacks and drinks will be available.



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