Businessman Alisher Usmanov is buying Gazeta.ru
Players in the media market claim that Alisher Usmanov, business tycoon of Uzbek origin, bought Gazeta.ru.
It was announced yesterday that Sekret Firmy Publishing House signed an accord to sell Gazeta.ru, a popular web newspaper. According to what information this newspaper has compiled, the newspaper is to be sold to Gazprominvestholding General Director Usmanov. Players in the market who know what they are talking about believe that Usmanov is prepared to pay about $30 million for the new asset. Neither Gazeta.ru current owners nor the potential buyer confirm the information.
RBK Daily was informed of the deal between Sekret Firmy and Usmanov by a source close to the negotiations. According to the source, all major issues have been settled, and the final documents may be signed in the nearest future. Usmanov himself remained incommunicado yesterday. "He does not want to be running in front of the engine," a source in Gazprominvestholding explained. Neither does Sekret Firmy confirm the information. Its General Director Alexander Loktev maintains that Gazeta.ru is not for sale and that the rumors are spread by his enemies.
The reports in the meantime are not exactly groundless. Usmanov himself admitted on more than one occasion that he planned to establish a major media holding with the newspaper Kommersant at its center. As soon as Usmanov bought Kommersant Publishing House for about $300 million, the market began speculating on how he was also after 7TV (sports channel) and Gazeta.ru. As a matter of fact, players in the market speak of Gazeta.ru as being practically in Usmanov's hands with utmost seriousness. "As I see it, Gazeta.ru will be sold for the sum all of Sekret Firmy could have been bought for," Rodionov Publishers General Director Aleksei Volin said. "It does not take a genius to see that the rest of the publishing house does not amount to anything without Gazeta.ru. All other magazines are so much crap." As far as Volin is concerned, if the deal takes place indeed, it will mean that owners of Sekret Firmy want out for good.
Sekret Firmy Publishing House bought Gazeta.ru in November 2005. Experts say that the asset cost it $5-10 million. Players in the market identify Vladislav Borodulin (chief editor of Kommersant Publishing House on the moment of procurement) as the major owner.