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BBC Monitoring
Russia: Businessman Kokh keen to buy Gazprom's media empire
Source: Ekho Moskvy radio, Moscow, in Russian 1400 gmt 17 Oct 01

[Presenter] The Kommersant newspaper has published an interview with former Gazprom-Media managing director Alfred Kokh, in which he confirms his intention to buy out all Gazprom's media assets. Kseniya Basilashvili has the details.

[Correspondent] Alfred Kokh makes no secret of the fact that his resignation from the post of Gazprom-Media managing director was prompted by his desire to buy Gazprom's media assets, which include, among others, the NTV television company and the Ekho Moskvy radio station.

In the Kommersant interview, Kokh recalls that he made similar offers to Gazprom on behalf of his company's management. I quote: "it was all well received, but later got bogged down in red tape", end of quote.

If a tender is announced, Kokh will bid for the mass media belonging to Gazprom jointly with NTV managing director Boris Yordan and an as yet unnamed foreign investor. Kokh appears to be certain the auction will be held, and even indicates the probable date by which everything will have been put up for sale - the middle of January.

Asked where the funds for the deal will be coming from, Kokh declines to give a direct answer. He stresses he is not all keen to see the price of Gazprom's media assets fall.

Even the NTV saga, which Kokh describes as an example of intimidation, has played a positive part, according to him: we now have four nationwide TV channels in place of three, and TV6 too is seeing its audience increase and ratings rise, Alfred Kokh believes.

[Presenter] In Kokh's opinion, by the beginning of April, all Gazprom's media assets will have been sold.

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