Georgian newspaper Akhali Versia (the New Version) reported on July 19 that Georgian businessman Kibar Khalvashi has recently purchased 90% of the shares of one of Georgiaâ€™s leading television company, Rustavi 2.
In a brief interview with Akhali Versia Kibar Khalvashi confirmed that he has bought shares of Rustavi 2 from former owners of the television Davit Dvali, Jarji Akimidze and Erosi Kitsmarishvili. The latter is founder of Rustavi 2 and now the Chairman of the Georgian Chamber of Commerce.
The remaining 10% of shares are still owned by the former General Director of the Rustavi 2 Nika Tabatadze. He has recently been appointed as Georgian Deputy Foreign Minister.
According to Akhali Versia, Kibar Khalvashi, who has close links with the country’s leadership, particularly with Interior Minister Irakli Okruashvili, owns the Procter&Gamble distribution network in Georgia as well as the newly established Pepsi Cola factory in Tbilisi.
Rustavi 2 television was established ten years ago in the provincial town of Rustavi, near Tbilisi. Over the last decade it has grown into one of Georgia’s leading television companies.
Rustavi 2 played a prominent role in the last November bloodless revolution by supporting then-opposition leaders against ex-President Shevardnadze. After the Rose Revolution Rustavi 2 labeled itself as "the Television of Victorious People."
However, after the new government took over power, Rustavi 2 was frequently criticized by its opponents for transforming into the "pro-government" television.