Russia’s Most buys stake in Israel’s Maariv

Purchases 25% for $85 mil

MOSCOW — Russia’s leading TV and media group, Most, will buy a 25% stake in Israel’s second largest media holding, Maariv, following Sunday’s signing of a preliminary agreement between Most’s Vladimir Gusinsky and Maariv’s parent company, Israel Land Development Corp., according to Reuters and Russian press reports.

Most is slated to buy a 25% stake in Maariv for $85 million, with a further option on a 10% stake in Maariv subsidiary Matav Cable Systems.

Most already holds a 10% stake in Matav, which broadcasts NTV Intl.’s Russian language programming in Israel. Territory was the starting point for Gusinsky’s bid for the Russian diaspora market, which was followed earlier this year by a similar service in France.

Most valued Maariv at $255 million before its investment, a sizable premium on its pre-bid $115 million book price. Gusinsky apparently outbid U.S. businessman Ronald Lauder for the Maariv stake, offering more than twice Lauder’s proposed investment.