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Georgian “Hope” in Arabic hands2009-02-27 10:16
The television and radio station Imedi (Hope), as well as the "Technomedia" company, have been taken over by the Arabic holding company RAK Investment Authority (RAKIA) from the UAE. Georgian experts are predicting another confrontation between the authorities and the opposition over this.
As the Georgian media report, on 25th February the American millionaire of Georgian descent Joseph Kay reported at a press conference that an agreement with the Arabic holding had been reached a few days ago. Therefore, 90 percent of the shares have been transferred to RAKIA. Kay himself has kept 10 percent of the shares.
Georgian experts think that the agreement over the sale of the Imedi television company is far from the last deal that will be struck over the tangled affairs of Badri Patarkatsishvili's property, who owned the company. Literally last week, the Tbilisi City Court pronounced an extremely strange decision - Kay was given the right to execute Patarkatsishvili's will, but was not allowed to administer his estate.
Even the lawyer to Joseph Kay himself, Archil Lezhava, was left somewhat bewildered by the verdict, so the newspaper Kommersant reported. "On the one hand, the court is instructing Joseph Kay to execute Patarkatsishvili's will, but on the other hand is forbidding him from administering his estate. In legal terms, the administrator of the deceased's estate and the executor of the will are very similar, but they are not exactly the same concepts. However in this case, when we are talking about a concrete will, we don't know how Kay will be able to execute it, without also administering the estate," complained Archil Lezhava.
Neither Kay himself, nor RAK Investment Authority, nor the Georgian government were going to rack their brains over such legal complexities. They took on and completed the deal. In spite of the Patarkatsishvili family clearly announcing on the day the Tbilisi court pronounced its decision that they were intending to dispute this verdict.
Nonna Kandiashvili, the press secretary for the widow of the late oligarch, Inna Gudavadze, told a GeorgiaTimes correspondent that the family would be continuing its fight for Imedi in the international courts. Experts believe the Arabic company is being supported by the interests of the Georgian government.
Hence the independent expert Irakli Shavishvili said the following on the Kommersant radio station: "RAKIA owns a large number of assets in Georgia. This gives rise to the suspicion that the company itself is involved in a deal with the government. We can see that this is also what has happened this time."
Incidentally, quite recently a free industrial zone in Poti was transferred to RAKIA's management for a 49 year period. The National Bank of Georgia and a construction company also belong to the Arabic holding.
As far as the acquired media assets are concerned, RAK Investment Authority is for the moment refraining from making any comment as to whether it intends to influence the station's coverage. But Joseph Kay himself has promised that Imedi would not get involved in politics. The authorities are quite open about the fact that the current entertainment slant adopted by the once rebellious Imedi suits them well.
But already during last November's rallies, the opposition demanded that the authorities return the television channel to its lawful owners - the Patarkatsishvili family. The opposition is intending to make this same demand during the protest actions planned for this spring.