Berlusconi makes move into Russia

Mondadori to launch women's magazine

Silvio Berlusconi is making his first significant foray into Russia’s media market, announcing a deal for his Arnoldo Mondadori Editore unit to publish a women’s magazine there next year.

Mondadori, a division of Berlusconi’s investment firm Fininvest, will form a joint venture with Independent Media Sanoma Magazines to publish Grazia, a magazine that is popular with middle-aged Italian women. Berlusconi’s daughter, Marina Berlusconi, heads Mondadori.

The initial investment to launch the magazine will run to $10 million, with $3 million-$5 million for promotion.

The deal does not extend beyond magazine publishing but it is no secret that Berlusconi wants to expand his Mediaset TV empire internationally as Italy’s opposition government moves to break up the lock that Mediaset and pubcaster RAI have on local TV.

The Russian advertising market, unlike Italy, is taking off. According to Russian media analysts, press advertising grew 15% in the first nine months of this year to $1.1 billion.

During Berlusconi’s stint as Italy’s prime minister, he forged a particularly strong bond with Russia’s Vladimir Putin.