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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Berezovsky, Murdoch Buy St. Pete Airwaves

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ST. PETERSBURG — Logovaz News Corp., owned by Boris Berezovsky and Australian media magnate Rupert Murdoch, stepped into the St. Petersburg radio market last week with the purchase of radio station Modern.

Modern has two broadcasting licenses for St. Petersburg and holds 14 licenses for broadcasting in the regions, including Arkhangelsk, Murmansk, Kaliningrad and Sochi.

Berezovsky and Murdoch bought the station from its managers, Sergei Nikolayev and Leonid Kukushkin, and an entrepreneur, Oleg Zherebtsov.

Some 223,000 people, or 5.3 percent of St. Petersburg's radio audience, tune in daily to Modern, making it the No. 10 FM station by audience size, according to market research agency Comcon-St. Petersburg.

Logovaz News Corp., or LNC, belongs equally to structures under Berezovsky and Murdoch and owns Nashe Radio, which has about 40 transmitters broadcasting to 129 cities across Russia and the CIS, as well as Ultra Radio and the recording company Real Records.

"The deal is unique because it was concluded in an absolutely transparent manner without employing any substitutes or offshores," said Nikolayev, also a former board chairman.

"The three owners opened accounts in a Russian bank to which LNC transferred the full amount of the purchase."

Nikolayev said each of the three owners paid taxes worth "several tens of thousands of dollars," but he declined to disclose the value of the deal.

Radio market analysts estimated that LNC paid between $1 million and $2 million for the station. A commercial director at another Petersburg station valued radio Modern, along with its regional network, at no higher than $1 million.

Nashe Radio general producer Mikhail Kozyrev said entering the St. Petersburg market had been a goal of the company since it was founded in December 1998.

"In the course of negotiations with many Petersburg stations, we would suddenly learn that their owners were either killed, or had escaped from or were in prison," Kozyrev said.

Kozyrev said LNC is going to purchase one more radio station in Petersburg, the name of which he did not disclose.

Its frequencies will be used by Moscow's Ultra FM station, or it will be a new project of the Russian-Australian media holding.