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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Media-MOST Sues Gazprom-Media

The future of NTV remained highly unclear Thursday after the station's parent company, Media-MOST, filed suits against its largest single shareholder, Gazprom-Media, accusing it of jeopardizing a Nov. 17 "peace agreement" between them.

Under that agreement, which settled Media-MOST's debts to Gazprom, 25 percent plus one share of NTV was to be sold to a "recognized international media investor" through Deutsche Bank AG London.

On Thursday, Media-MOST and Gazprom-Media accused each other of breaching the Nov. 17 agreement. Media-MOST filed suits against Gazprom-Media and Deutsche Bank in Gibraltar and London.

The lawsuits followed reports that U.S. media magnate Ted Turner was in the closing phase of negotiations with Media-MOST — independently from Gazprom-Media and Deutsche Bank — to buy a chunk of NTV.

Also Thursday, Media-MOST's deputy chairman, Andrei Tsimailo, was questioned for the second day in a row by prosecutors, who continue to investigate fraud charges against Media-MOST founder Vladimir Gusinsky.

Tsimailo said the questioning kept him from traveling to London for talks with a possible foreign investor. "They broke down my negotiations," he was quoted by Interfax as saying Thursday.

Gazprom-Media spokeswoman Aelita Yefimova said that Media-MOST refused to supply 24.46 percent of NTV stakes to Deutsche Bank by Dec. 30 — a stipulation of the Nov. 17 peace pact.

Click here to read our special report on the Struggle for Media-MOST.As a result, Gazprom-Media and Deutsche Bank terminated their bilateral contract, which was signed Dec. 28 in the absence of a trilateral contract.

"We have waited until the last minute, but they did not supply the stocks," Yefimova said. She also confirmed that the company viewed "negatively" Media-MOST's talks with Turner.

Media-MOST spokesman Dmitry Ostalsky confirmed that Media-MOST did not supply the stocks. He said it did not do so because the contract struck between Gazprom-Media and Deutsche Bank would have barred Media-MOST from voting with its stocks, which were supposed to be transferred only as collateral against a $261 million loan that matures in March.

According to Article 3.11 of the Nov. 17 agreement (www.mediamost.ru/_bkgnd/Nov2000.html), the portfolio becomes Gazprom-Media's property if Media-MOST does not supply it to Deutsche Bank on time.

Gazprom-Media would thus own 65 percent of NTV.

But Ostalsky contended that this clause was invalid because the contract between Gazprom-Media and Deutsche Bank violated the Nov. 17 agreement.

He said Media-MOST had instead filed suits in Gibraltar and London opposing the contract between Gazprom-Media and Deutsche Bank as in violation of the Nov. 17 agreement. "We filed suits against that contract to protect our legal rights," he said.

Ostalsky said he hoped "reason would prevail" and the companies would be able to find a common language.

Yefimova said Gazprom-Media's further moves will be determined when the company's general director, Alfred Kokh, returns from vacation Sunday.