News Corp sells Russian, Romanian outdoor ads business

MOSCOW Fri Jul 22, 2011 1:35pm BST

Police officers stand outside an entrance to News International in London July 10, 2011. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

Police officers stand outside an entrance to News International in London July 10, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Luke MacGregor

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MOSCOW (Reuters) - Embattled global media group News Corp said on Friday it has sold its 79 percent stake in News Outdoor Russia and News Outdoor Romania to a group of investors led by Russian investment bank VTB Capital.

The deal completes News Corp's divestment of its outdoor advertising business, with the exception of News Outdoor Czech Republic, the media company said in a statement.

VTB Capital, the investment arm of Russia's No.2 lender VTB, said it had bought the News Outdoor stake with NOOH Investments Cooperatief and Marathon Outdoor Cooperatief, representing the interests of Peter Gerwe and Russian fund Alfa Capital Partners respectively.

VTB Capital said in a statement the deal was part of its strategy to broaden its asset management business through direct investments into private firms.

The parties did not disclose financial details but Kommersant newspaper said the Russian business, which had been up for sale for several years, was worth about $350 million (214 million pounds), excluding debt.

News Outdoor Russia is Russia's largest outdoor advertising operator selling advertising on billboards, public transport and other surfaces in more than 50 Russian cities.

News Corp, part of the Rupert Murdoch empire, is currently at the centre of a phone-hacking scandal at its British operations that forced it to abandon a bid to buy the whole of broadcaster BSkyB and sparked public anger.

(Reporting by Maria Kiselyova and Alfred Kueppers; Editing by Greg Mahlich)

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