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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Surprise Bid Made to Gazprom

Privately owned Russian Media Group, the largest domestic radio company, has offered Gazprom $175 million for its media arm, Gazprom-Media.

Russian Media Group president Sergei Arkhipov said he sent an official offer on Wednesday after learning that Gazprom-Media was valued at $100 million in a planned asset swap between Gazprom and one of its subsidiaries.

The purpose of the exchange was to let Gazprom gain direct control of utility stakes currently held by Gazprombank. On Wednesday evening, Gazprom's board appeared to have postponed a final decision on the transaction.

"We read media reports on the sum Gazprom wanted for Gazprom-Media and thought it was an opportunity to make an offer," Arkhipov said in a telephone interview.

Gazprom-Media's holdings include NTV, liberal Ekho Moskvy radio station and a controlling stake in Izvestia daily, which the gas monopoly acquired earlier this year.

Gazprom-Media reacted coolly to the unexpected bid.

"We, in turn, are ready to purchase Russian Media Group, and are ready to discuss financial aspects of the deal," Gazprom-Media general director Nikolai Senkevich told Interfax.

Ekho Moskvy quoted a source in Gazprom as saying "sure [Arkhipov] is able to buy it, but who is going to allow it?"

Arkhipov said that he had not asked for approval from anyone.

"We have no connection to politics. We are an honest, transparent private company," he said. Arkhipov declined to predict the success of his bid, but said that $175 million was just a starting price.