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Last Updated: Monday, 1 August 2005, 17:12 GMT 18:12 UK
Murdoch 'eyes' Russian investment
Alexei Mordashov, head of Russian steel firm Severstal
Alexei Mordashov, head of Severstal, which controls Ren TV
News Corporation, the global media firm headed by Rupert Murdoch, has held talks which could lead to its most important investment to date in Russia.

News Corp representatives met officials from Severstal, the Russian steelmaker which owns the Ren TV firm.

Although no details were given of the meeting, it was reported that the two sides had discussed the question of News Corp investing in the broadcaster.

Any such deal would mark its most significant foray into Russia to date.


Ren TV has long been considered as one of the country's most independent TV stations.

Founded by Irena and Dmitry Lesnevsky, it has a reach of nearly 100 million viewers across Russia.

However, the channel changed hands last month, raising question marks about its future direction.

Severstal, which became Ren TV's main shareholder after buying a 70% stake, is run by Alexei Mordashov, an oligarch who is seen as being loyal to President Putin.

The remainder of the business is owned by German-owned media firm RTL.

A News Corporation spokeswoman said a meeting had taken place between representatives of News Corp and Severstal but declined to say what had been discussed.

However, Agence France Presse quoted a Severstal spokeswoman as saying that the talks had focused on the sale of a stake in Ren TV.

The Kremlin has established direct or indirect influence over most of Russia's TV stations in recent years.

However, foreign media companies still see Russia as an attractive proposition, as rising levels of prosperity attracts more advertisers.

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