Gazprom, the world's biggest natural gas company by reserves, has bought Vladimir Gusinsky's remaining shares in Russian media companies, reducing the businessman's influence in the country's media.
Gazprom bought blocking stakes in twenty five companies once controlled by Gusinsky's Media Most holding, including a thirty one percent stake in national television station NTV for about $150 million, daily Vedomosti said, citing unidentified people familiar with the transaction.
The gas company's takeover of NTV last year and arrest warrants issued by the Prosecutor General against Gusinsky were part of an attempt by President Vladimir Putin to curb the influence of some businessmen who used their media and business interests to gain political clout, analysts have said.
Media Most and Gusinsky, who left Russia in 2000 after being accused of fraud and detained at a Moscow prison, said at the time that Putin was using Gazprom to stifle media freedom. Gazprom has said it wants to sell its media assets, run by its Gazprom Media unit, to concentrate on its principle gas business.
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