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MOSCOW, October 28 (Itar-Tass) --- The Walt Disney Company will buy a 49 percent stake in Russia’s Seven TV network owned by UTV Holding and will rename it the Disney Channel. The deal was announced at the meeting between Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and President and CEO of the Walt Disney Company, Robert Iger. After the launch the Disney Channel will be available for 40 million households, which makes up 75 percent of the monitored Russian audience.
The Disney Channel will broadcast through its own networks in 54 Russian largest cities, including Moscow and St. Petersburg, according to a statement cited by the RBK Daily. A source close to the company said the channel’s reformatting, advertising and other necessary expenditures will be financed through Disney’s funds.
The new channel’s team will be formed through unifying the teams of Seven TV and cable Disney Channel. Konstantin Likhodedov, the managing director of Seven TV, will become the new channel’s director-general.
The deal’s sum has not been disclosed, Vedomosti reported. A source familiar with the deal terms asserted that it “by several dozens of millions of dollars” exceeds the $233 million sum that the Walt Disney Company planned to inject into the project on the cannel’s creation back in 2008.
The Kommersant business daily reiterated that in August 2010 Disney’s Russian office launched its cable channel in Russia. For twelve months Disney had quickly won the audience, according to the leading media and market research company TNS Russia. In July-September 2011 Disney drew an average daily urban audience of 3 percent, thus ranking seventh among all monitored cable and satellite channels.
This time the deal cannot be disrupted, the daily noted. Yesterday Vladimir Putin announced that participation of “very famous” U.S. company in a joint project with UTV “will be a positive and good start on the Russian media market.” The federal anti-monopoly service has already satisfied the Walt Disney Company’s motion to buy a 49 percent stake in the group of companies that own Seven TV Channel, the FAS deputy head, Andrei Kashevarov, said.
Thus, the Walt Disney Company will be the third foreign strategic investor in Russia’s television broadcast networks. At present, Sweden’s Modern Times Group owns a 38.19 percent stake in CTC Media holding that controls channels STS, Domashniy and Perets, while Luxembourg’s RTL Group has a 7.5 percent stake in the National Media Group that controls REN TV and Channel 5 as well as own a 25 percent stake in Channel One and a 25.17 percent stake in CTC Media.