A new Nasdaq tack

Russian net CTC poised for an IPO

MOSCOW — Network CTC has confirmed details of its IPO, the first Nasdaq offering by a Russian media company, in final documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The float is managed by Morgan Stanley and Deutsche Bank.

CTC, which airs entertainment programming, is selling about 29.5 million shares, or 20% of its stock, at an expected price of $16-$18 per share. That values its Delaware-registered parent company, CTC Media, at an impressive $2.4 billion-$2.7 billion.

Sale is expected to bring in about $115 million after expenses and deductions.

“We intend to use such net proceeds to implement our growth strategy through the possible acquisition of additional broadcast platforms, possible geographic expansion through an acquisition elsewhere in the Commonwealth of Independent States and/or the possible acquisition of television programming on a proprietary rather than licensed basis,” the SEC filing states.

Of the total IPO, 7.9 million shares, or 5.38% of the company, will be newly issued stock.

Investment group Baring Vostok will dispose of half its 15.48% holding, and ABH Holdings Corp., an offshoot of Russian banking holding Alfa Group, will cut its 31.51% stake by around 5%.

The majority stakeholder, Scandinavia’s Modern Times Group, has said it will retain its 43.1% holding.

According to SEC filings, company’s three largest shareholders pledge not to increase their stakes to more than 50% in the float.

CTC Media runs two networks in Russia, CTC and the smaller Domashny (Home) channel, launched last year.

CTC has scored strongly, especially with local serial production, over last six months, and has been vying with commercial channel NTV for third place in the ratings, achieving an average 10.3% audience share last year.

CTC Media has 14 owned-and-operated channels in regional cities; it airs on 283 independent affiliates around the territory.

Under CEO Alexander Rodnyansky, station has moved away from an initially U.S.-driven programming scheme to more local fare, becoming a prolific investor in recent Russian films, including last year’s top B.O. hit, Fyodor Bondarchuk’s “Ninth Company.”

Analysts predict 2006 operating profit for CTC of $170 million-$190 million.

The only previous Russian channel to look for an international market listing, also on Nasdaq, was NTV, then owned by Vladimir Gusinsky, back in 1998; Russia’s financial crisis that August ended such plans.

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