Booming Russian economy lifts company

MOSCOW — Russia’s leading independent media holding CTC Media announced impressive 2007 profits on Thursday, with a distinct pick up in the fourth quarter.

Results for the year’s final three months were up around 45%, with a profit of around $60 million.

Overall results for the year saw a 28% gain on 2006 figures. Annual profits were at almost $136 million.

Much of that increase may be down to the rapid expansion of the local advertising market by around an annual 25%-30%, as well as from exchange rates for the ruble against the dollar, which has fallen around 15% over the last year.

But CTC director general Alexander Rodnyansky was in an optimistic mood in Moscow Thursday, citing achievements in incorporating local production structures into the network, as well as expansion within the former Soviet Union.

New local stations have been acquired both for main channel CTC and its subsid the female-oriented Domashny (literally “Home”) channel over the year, and the latter is bringing in healthy rates of growth.

CTC has recently acquired a majority stake in Kazakhstan’s Channel 31 and has its eye on a similar opportunity in neighboring Uzbekistan.

The elephant in the room at Rodnyansky’s Moscow conference was whether, and when, the holding might tie down an acquisition of local net DTV, which is owned by Sweden’s Modern Times Group, which itself owns around 40% of CTC Media.

Talks are obviously in the works, but Rodnyansky was reluctant for legal reasons to give details on their progress.

However, he made no secret of the fact that, should CTC Media acquire DTV, it would be developed as a niche channel, programmed for a male audience, as a loose counterpart to the femme direction of Domashny.

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