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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Prof-Media Buys Up Local MTV

LONDON -- Vladimir Potanin's media vehicle Prof-Media said Monday that it had bought MTV Russia and VH1 Russia for about $360 million cash to expand its reach in free-to-air entertainment broadcasting.

U.S. media conglomerate Viacom owns 53 percent of the company that controls the channels, while 42 percent is owned by private equity firm Russia Partners and 5 percent by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

MTV, which launched in Russia in 1998, a year after Prof-Media was established, said it would continue to grant an exclusive license for MTV and VH1 programs and related web sites in Russia.

MTV Networks vice chairman Bill Roedy said the deal would enhance MTV's reach in Russia as it moved from a financial partnership with the likes of Russia Partners to a strategic relationship with Prof-Media.

"When you have that sort of media company, that partnership gives us a much bigger scale and presence in the market. As Russia has quickly become more sophisticated, more complicated and even more competitive, this will help the business immeasurably," Roedy said.

Roedy said the financial return on the company's investment was "very attractive" but declined to provide specific details.

Prof-Media is the country's largest privately owned media group with interests spanning cinemas, film production and distribution, radio, television, magazines and the Internet. Its acquisitions in the past year included Rambler Media, entertainment channel TV-3 and free-to-view animation channel 2X2 TV.

"The MTV Russia acquisition is very complementary to our existing operations and exposes us to a new segment of the young and proactive audience, which is heavily in demand from top advertisers," said Prof-Media CEO Rafael Akopov in a statement.

MTV Russia broadcasts to 35 million television households via a network of 21 owned and operated stations and around 650 affiliates as well as cable and satellite operators. VH1 is available in 14 million homes primarily via cable operators.