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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

LUKoil Purchases Interest In Izvestia

The Russian oil giant LUKoil has bought a stake in Izvestia, one of the country's most influential dailies, the paper's vice president said Thursday.

"The deal is done," said Eduard Gonzalez, vice president of the Izvestia joint stock company.

Gonzalez said LUKoil-Garant, a pension fund controlled by LUKoil, has bought shares formerly owned by Dialog Bank.

He said Izvestia employees own a controlling stake in the company, and while he declined to disclose how large a stake LUKoil bought, or how much they paid for it, he said it was no more than the 19 percent that has until recently belonged to Dialog.

"This is very good news for Izvestia," Gonzalez said. "It will in no way affect the editorial policy of the newspaper, but it could mean financial opportunities and investments that can only improve its quality."

Other shareholders include Mezhdunarodny Promyslovy Bank, with 15 percent. Seven percent of shares are owned by foreign investors, Interfax said.

A source in LUKoil said LUKoil-Garant is interested in a number of Izvestia's commercial projects, and it hopes to use them to diversify the fund's holdings and bring in profits, the agency said.

With a circulation of 550,000, Izvestia is one of the few Russian dailies that claims to make a profit, but the paper has been rumored to be looking for investors for several months.

Gonzalez dismissed as "gossip" reports earlier this month that Vladimir Gusinsky, head of the banking and media conglomerate MOST Group was trying to buy a controlling package in Izvestia. While the reports were also denied by MOST Group officials, Izvestia editor Igor Golembiovsky said at the time that Gusinsky had approached him several times with offers to buy shares.

The LUKoil sale is the most recent in a trend among large companies close to the Russian government to gain involvement in the country's media.