Billionaire Blavatnik to buy Web firm Premium TV

By Jeffrey
Goldfarb

Reuters

Billionaire
industrialist Len Blavatnik is expanding his media portfolio with a deal to buy
Premium TV, which operates digital services for clients ranging from
Britain’s

Chelsea
soccer club to Warner Music.

Blavatnik’s
Access Industries said on Monday it had agreed to acquire the firm from PTV
Inc., a company managed by turnaround specialists Quest Turnaround Advisors.

Terms of
the deal were not disclosed, but the price was more than $50 million, a person
familiar with the situation said.

UK-based
Premium TV hosts more than 150 Web sites and says it is the largest streamer of
live events in Europe, allowing viewers to see more than 8,000 of them a year.
It boasts 100 million page views and 10 million unique users.

It also
recently signed a deal with

UK
cable operator Virgin Media to produce broadband programming of British soccer
matches.

When Quest
took over the business in 2002 from Virgin’s predecessor company, NTL Inc., it
had 30 million pounds ($61.5 million) of liabilities and faltering deals with

UK football
clubs.

Premium TV
is now profitable, Quest said.

“From
here, with Access’s strategic and financial backing, we aim to grow our
international presence significantly,” Premium TV Chief Executive Oliver
Slipper said.

The firms
expect the deal to close at the end of July.

Access
owns stakes in Russian TV broadcaster CTC Media, British pay-TV scheme Top Up
TV, mobile messaging firm Acision and Warner Music.

Blavatnik,
who was raised in Russia and ranked 40th on Forbes’ richest Americans list last
year with an estimated $7 billion in assets, also owns chemicals and plastics
maker Basell and a stake in UC RUSAL, the world’s largest aluminum producer.