12 Aug 2019 15:37

New owner wants to sell Rustavi 2 Georgian TV company due to its debts

TBILISI. Aug 12 (Interfax) - The new owner of the Rustavi 2 Georgian television station, Kibar Khalvashi, has said that he has decided to sell the company because of its more than $24 million of debt.

"The company is on the brink of bankruptcy. Unfortunately, my financial capabilities are not enough to steer the TV company out of its deep financial crisis. That's why I have made a decision to sell the TV company and am ready for negotiations with anyone interested in it," Khalvashi said in a statement circulated by Georgian media on Monday.

"The only person I refuse to talk to is former informal owner and manager of the Rustavi 2 TV company Mikheil Saakashvili. I have decided to sell the TV company via a transparent tender to whomever pays the highest price," the Georgian businessman said.

Rustavi 2's debt stands at 70 million Georgian lari ($24 million) of which 27 million lari is owed to the state, he said. Due to the company's large debts, the sale should be concluded within a week.

Rustavi 2 recently found itself in the limelight following scandalous remarks insulting Russian President Vladimir Putin which one of the company's hosts, Giorgi Gabunia, made on July 7. The State Duma then issued a statement calling on the Russian government to impose extra economic sanctions on Georgia. However, Putin spoke against the sanctions.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled on July 18 that businessman Kibar Khalvashi be reinstated as the company's owner.

The former CEO of Rustavi 2, Nika Gvaramia, was charged on August 9 with financial malpractice that caused the company damage of over 7 million lari.