Representatives of Vladimir Gusinsky's embattled Media Most group have been barred from exercising voting rights attached to a disputed 19% stake in the group's flagship station NTV, leading gas giant Gazprom to claim victory in its long-running battle to take control of the broadcaster.
Gazprom, which already owns 46% of NTV, claims it is entitled to the additional 19% because it is held as collateral against a $261m loan that Media Most has now defaulted on. If the court hands over the stake, Gazprom would own 65% of the station, and be in a position to derail talks between Media Most and CNN founder Ted Turner who has offered to buy an unspecified stake in NTV.
Media Most representatives were denied voting rights at an NTV meeting on Friday, leading Gazprom Media chief Alfred Kokh to announce that he will shortly call an extraordinary NTV shareholder's meeting and install three Gazprom officials as directors, replacing Gusinsky and his team. Media Most retains voting rights on its separate 30% stake in NTV.
Kokh indicated that Gazprom would still be interested in offers from foreign investors, including Ted Turner, but only after it had taken control of NTV.