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Viacom sells Russian MTV, VHI

Prof-Media pays $360 million

LONDON — Viacom will pocket in the region of $190 million from the sale of MTV Russia and VHI Russia, the two MTV Networks webs that have been acquired by Russian outfit Prof-Media.

The deal, described by MTV Networks topper Bill Roedy as “significant but not revolutionary,” follows similar moves in Asian markets such as Thailand and Taiwan.

However, this is the first deal of this size in Europe.

MTV will continue to license MTV and VHI-branded programming and their related Web sites in Russia, but the channels now come under the ownership of Prof-Media, whose local assets include a film studio and a cinema chain.

Prof-Media has splashed out a total of $360 million on the deal – the remainder of the coin going to MTV Networks’ former co-owners of the Russian webs, Russian Partners and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

Roedy said, “It is a significant move because we have a great new partner in Russia and a great return on our investment, but it is not revolutionary because we’ve done these kind of deals before.”

Prof-Media CEO Rafael Akopov added: “Prof-Media is again strengthening its position in free-to-air entertainment broadcasting.

“The MTV Russia acquisition is very complementary to our existing operations and exposes us to a new segment of the young and proactive audience, which is heavily in demand from top advertisers.”

MTV Russia bowed in 1998 and is reckoned to be available in 35 million Russian households.

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