Prof-Media goes to market, raises $250 mil

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LONDON -- Russian media-holding firm Prof-Media said Tuesday that it has successfully raised $250 million in debt on the international finance market to help fund recent acquisitions.

In October, Prof-Media bought TV3 -- an entertainment network with a 1.8% market share in Russia -- for a reported $550 million. An earlier acquisition, Moscow channel 2X2, will re-launch in the spring as a 24-hour adult cartoon channel.

The company -- the media arm of Vladimir Potanin's Interros group, with interests in television, magazines, radio and the Internet -- said the debt, in Credit Linked Notes, was the largest ever in that form for a private issuer in Russia.

A further $50 million loan from the World Bank's private sector arm, International Finance Corp., will bring the company's debt issue to a total of $300 million, Prof Media said in a statement.

"We are happy with the results of our first international debt capital markets transaction," Prof-Media CEO Rafael Akopov said. "The transaction allows the company to achieve a more efficient capital structure and positions it with the international investment community as the leading Eastern European private diversified media company."

Prof-Media's debt notes mature within two years at a semi-annual fixed coupon rate of 10.75%, callable by the company in the 15th, 18th and 21st months. The debt was placed with a wide range of investors primarily from Asia, Britain, Switzerland and other international jurisdictions as well as Russia.

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