Three TV Stations Merge into New Media Holding
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 20 Nov.'06 / 19:54

A new media holding will be established following the merger of Tbilisi-based television stations Rustavi 2, Mze and Pirveli Stereo (First Stereo), Director General of Rustavi 2 TV Koba Davarashvili said on November 20.

“The agreement on the merger of the three channels has practically been achieved and we will create the strongest media holding on the Georgian market,” Davarashvili said while speaking on Rustavi 2 TV’s daily Business Courier program.

He confirmed that the company GeoTrans has purchased 78% of Rustavi 2 shares from businessman Kibar Khalvashi. The latter is a close friend of ex-Economy and former Defense Minister Irakli Okruashvili.

Davarashvili said that information about the merger was originally scheduled to be unveiled on New Year’s Eve, “but the information was leaked.”

Tbilisi-based Imedi TV (co-owned by tycoon Badri Patarkatsishvili and NewsCorp), which is the Rustavi 2’s major competitor, reported on Kibar Khalvashi’s decision to sell his shares on November 19.

When asked whether Imedi media holding will be able to compete with the new group, Davarashvili answered: “the struggle with us will be more interesting and more difficult.”
 
Davarashvili also stressed that no management changes will take place. “Simply, the structure will become more adjustable to the holding,” he added.

In early 2006 Rustavi 2 broadcasting company bought shares of Tbilisi-based TV station Mze (Sun).

Georgian Industrial Group (GIG) is expected to become a major stakeholder in the new media holding uniting the three television stations.

Currently GIG owns 22% of shares in Rustavi 2 TV; 22% in Mze TV and 65% in Pirveli Stereo. Davarashvili also said that GeoTrans may sell a part of its shares to attract additional capital.

GIG’s media arm is Georgian Media Incorporated (GMI), which currently unites Mze TV; First Stereo TV; Studio Spectr and Georgian Business Consulting (GBC).

GIG, which is a holding, also unites the following companies: Sakcementi (cement production factory), Saqinvesti (which deals with the rehabilitation of coal mining in Tkibuli), Georgian International Energy Corporation (electricity export/import and generation), World Techniques (import of equipment for agriculture sector), Farmatechniques (import of medical appliances), and Vipavia (charter flights).

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