Russia's Top Theater Network Sold to 19-Year-Old Student

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Said Kerimov, son of one of Russia's richest businessmen, buys Cinema Park

A 19-year-old college student is set to buy Russia's biggest movie theater network, Cinema Park, for $385 million.

Said Kerimov, a student at top Moscow State Institute of International Relations, is the son of Russian billionaire Suleiman Kerimov, a member of Russia's upper house of parliament, the Federation Council.

The university is known in its Russian acronym, MGIMO, and has a reputation for training future businessmen and diplomats.

Kerimov junior's offer of $385 million (19 billion roubles) for Cinema Park, has been accepted by Interros, the industrial group controlled by Vladimir Potantin, which owns the chain along with other media interests.

Potanin first put the network on the block last March when the media division of Russian natural gas giant Gazprom was reported to be interested in buying it. Gazprom Media had already acquired Potanin's ProfMedia group, which owns television channels TV3, 2X2 and Pyatnitsa, production shingle Central Partnership and several FM radio stations. 

Sources close to the Cinema Park deal, yet to be finalized, told Russian business daily Vedomosti that the student chose the cinema network because it is Russia's leading exhibition chain. He and plans to pay for the cinemas "out of his own funds."

The student's father is one of Russia's richest 20 businessmen with a fortune Forbes estimates at $6.3 billion. His son's purchase is not unusual; many children of Russia's wealthiest people are encouraged to invest in their own business interests from a young age.