Inter: No truth to sales reports

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MOSCOW -- The owner of a majority stake in one of Ukraine's leading television networks, Inter, has dismissed media reports that his 61% share had been sold for $600 million.

Russian and Ukrainian media on Wednesday reported that Valery Khoroshovksy's majority holding in Ukrainsky Media Proekt -- which owns Inter (Ukrainian Independent Television Corp.), a network that reaches more than 95% of Ukrainian television viewers -- had been sold to two Ukrainian businessmen.

Citing sources in parent company Evraz Group -- whose owner, Aleksandr Abramov, paid $270 million in 2005 for the majority stake in Inter -- newspaper and wire agency reports suggested the sale had gone through after Russian media groups including Gazprom Media had walked away from talks, saying the price was too high.

The reports suggested that Ukrainian industrialists Dmitri Firtasch and Vitaly Gaiduk had purchased 21% and 40% of Inter respectively and would likely switch the network's emphasis away from news and current affairs to more entertainment programming, with a view toward selling it at a profit in the near future.

Inter's press service dismissed the reports, stating that the network -- which first went on air in October 1996 -- remained "under the control of Valery Khoroshovksy" and that "no changes to the share ownership" of the network had taken place.
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