Ownership of Disney Channel Russia Changes Hands

Disney Channel Logo H 2016

Tycoon Alisher Usmanov exits the broadcasting company UTH, which owns an 80 percent stake in the network.

Ownership of Disney Channel Russia has changed again as local tycoon Alisher Usmanov is selling off his television assets.

Usmanov agreed to the sale of his share in the broadcasting company UTH — which, in turn, owns an 80 percent stake in Disney Channel Russia, alongside several major local networks — to his associate Ivan Tavrin, marking his exit from the television business, Russian business daily Vedomosti reported.

Disney Channel arrived in Russia in 2011 and, to avoid dealing with restrictions on television frequencies applied to foreign networks, it bought a 49 percent in the existing network SevenTV (TV-7) from UTH for a reported $300 million and rebranded it as Disney Channel.

In 2015, Disney was forced to sell some shares back to the Russian broadcaster, however, as it had to comply with a newly adopted law that limited foreign ownership of Russian media companies to 20 percent.

Also in 2015, UTH bought a 75 percent stake in another major Russian broadcaster, CTC Media, for $193 million as the company, then co-owned by Sweden's Modern Times Group, also needed to comply with the foreign ownership law.

Disney Channel is Russia's fourth-biggest entertainment network behind TNT, CTC and Pyatnitsa.