AMSTERDAM — Scandinavian media outfit Modern Times Group (MTG) has upped its share stake in StoryFirst Communications, the U.S.-owned media group that runs Russia’s third largest net CTC.
MTG picked up another 20,185 shares of StoryFirst from individual and institutional shareholders for a price tag of $53.4 million, lifting its holding in StoryFirst from 36.3% to 37.9%.
The move reflects MTG eagerness to grab what it can get in Central and Eastern Europe (C&E), particularly Russia, in efforts to fulfill the company’s strategy to have more than a third of its revenues coming from that part of the world.
StoryFirst, which owns and operates the CTC network and 13 regional stations in Russia, has a penetration of 86 million and reaches viewers in some 700 cities across Russia, a territory which has a TV ad pie estimated at $950 million.
Hans-Holger Albrecht, CEO and president of MTG, said the move was a continuation of its efforts to concentrate on its “core broadcasting assets.” Group sold its successful subtitling, translating and dubbing outfit SDI earlier this month for $60 million as part of that game plan.
MTG also owns a majority share in Russia’s terrestrial TV outfit DTV Viasat and has over two million pay TV subscribers to its Viasat Broadcasting paybox TV1000, Viasat Explorer and Viasat History channels in eleven countries scattered across C&E.