Media Group to Buy Cable Network

National Media Group agreed Wednesday to buy National Telecommunications, one of the country's largest cable network operators, from billionaire Suleiman Kerimov's Nafta Co., Interfax reported.

The value of the deal was not disclosed, but a source close to the agreement said National Media Group, controlled by Bank Rossiya, whose largest shareholder is billionaire Yury Kovalchuk, would pay from $1.3 billion to $1.5 billion for National Telecommunications, the news agency said.

Yekaterina Golovkova said the media holding agreed to buy 100 percent of the television and Internet cable network and that the deal should be closed in two weeks to a month.

Kommersant said earlier Wednesday that the media holding was looking to buy 51 percent.

Kovalchuk, a close ally of President Vladimir Putin, created National Media Group in February when Bank Rossiya, Severstal, Surgutneftegaz and insurance group Sogaz pooled the 68 percent of Ren-TV and 72 percent of Channel 5 they controlled, the holding said at the time.