Lev Leviev is selling Israel's Russian language cable station, Channel 9 to his partner Alexander Levin. Africa-Israel Investments Ltd. (TASE:AFIL), which he controls, today notified the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) that it and Leviev have sold their 48% stake in Channel 9 franchisee Vash Telekanal Ltd. for $6.5 million including their $540,000 owners loan to the company to their partner in it.
The sale price is substantially higher than the estimated value of Vash Telekanal. Over the years, Leviev invested NIS 150 million in the station, half personally and half through Africa-Israel. The station lost money during most of its years in operation. Since the station was not a core business, Leviev has been seeking a new investor in it for years, but could not find a buyer confident in an ads-based cable station in these hard times.
Levin, who signed an agreement to buy Vash Telekanal with Leviev in February, threw a lifeline to the company. The large amount he invested in the acquisition, and the subsequent investments, demonstrate his confidence in the cable station.
Channel 9 has been undergoing an overhaul, beginning with Levin's takeover. Levin is a Russian media mogul who immigrated to Israel in early 2013 in order to acquire the cable station. He has refreshed its management, replaced key personnel, and set new goals, including reaching a younger audience, targeting Russian speakers outside Israel, and strengthening its news desk.
Vash Telekanal is due to move its headquarters to Modi'in, where it is building new premises at a cost of millions of shekels. Levin is also hiring many new employees and strengthening the channel's news desk at an investment of millions of shekels.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on July 11, 2013
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