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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Gusinsky Buys Minority Stake In East Europe Media Group

PRAGUE, Czech Republic -- Russian media magnate Vladimir Gusinsky has bought a large minority stake in U.S.-owned Central European Media Enterprises after CME shares plunged on the suspension of its profitable Czech operations over the summer.

A filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission this week showed that Gusinsky and his companies built up a 17.3 percent stake in CME for $6.7 million between Sept. 13 and Oct. 1, buying on the market at $1.62 to $2.70 per share.

CME shares are trading at about $1.90 on Nasdaq this week.

Gusinsky's purchase adds a new twist in the bumpy ride for CME, a group of six television operations in post-Communist Europe founded by New York cosmetics scion Ronald Lauder, who still holds more than 70 percent of the voting rights.

Gusinsky is Russia's largest media tycoon. Through his Media-MOST companies, he controls the controversial private Russian television station NTV and banking powerhouse MOST-Bank.

CME stock suffered a huge plunge from more than $14 in the summer after CME's only unit with positive cash flow, Czech CNTS, was cut off from broadcasting on nationwide TV Nova by its Czech license holder CET-21, after a long dispute.

The filing said Gusinsky's group "may seek to enter into discussions with the issuer [CME] about potential areas of mutually beneficial business cooperation" but did not elaborate. It said Gusinsky had the right of control the 3.2 million limited-voting A-class shares.