Germany's Kirch Group is in negotiations to acquire a stake in Russian broadcaster TV6, which is majority-owned by Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky. According to the station's director general, Alexander Ponomarev, a stake of up 25% is up for grabs.
Representatives from the German company recently spent several days in Moscow, visiting the station and evaluating its capabilities.
Berezovsky currently owns 75% of TV6 but is said to be interested in selling a large portion to a foreign media company to improve its programming as well as attract investment. No figure has been put on the size of the sale but sources say an investment of at least $3m is needed to upgrade the channel.
The remaining 15% of TV6 shares belong to Russian oil giant LUKoil and 10% to the Moscow Science and Technology Committee.
Rival broadcaster NTV is also set to gain a foreign investor after its parent, Russia's Media Most group, struck a debt relief deal with its major creditor, the state-owned gas giant Gazprom. As one of the conditions of having its debts written off, Media Most agreed to sell 25% of NTV to an as-yet-unspecified foreign investor through Deutsche Bank of London for a minimum of $90m (ScreenDaily, November 20).
TV6 founded in 1991 holds one of Russia's six national broadcast frequencies and covers more than 50% of the country including most of the major urban centres. Like most broadcasters it suffered serious financial problems during the August 1998 financial crisis that hit the advertising market hard.