Tbilisi City Court Returns Rustavi 2 Shares to Khalvashi

A judge in the Tbilisi City Court presiding over the Rustavi 2 ownership dispute case, has delivered a verdict in favour of Kibar Khalvashi.

Under the decision of Judge Tamaz Urtmelidze, Tbilisi City Court has been satisfied with Kibar Khalvashi’s request to get the shares back.

According to the court decision 60% of the Rustavi 2 TV company shares should be handed back to businessman Khlavashi and 40% to the Panorama LTD Company who owns the shares currently. Once the decision was announced all but one of the Rustavi 2 lawyers left the court session.

The court however did not satisfy Khalvashi’s other requests, returning a copyright and loss reimbursement thought to total $18 million. The judge also announced the purchase agreements had been abolished.

Khalvashi first began his lawsuit against the company in August, attempting to reclaim the shares he once held in the company when he was majority shareholder between 2004-2006.

As a temporary measure the court froze Rustavi 2’s assets in August, followed less than two months later by an additional court injunction which froze any assets of the broadcaster’s shareholder company as well.

In his lawsuit Khalvashi claimed that he was forced into selling the channel by the then leadership of the country back in 2006, including then President Mikheil Saakashvili.

As evidence his lawyers presented the court with a report on the valuation of Rustavi 2’s TV shares between 2005-2006 through which the plaintiff claimed that the price he had to sell his shares for were far lower than the actual value of the assets.

91% of shares in Rustavi 2 TV, which now earns more in advertisement revenue than several of its main competitors combines, are currently owned directly or indirectly by Levan Karamanishvili and Giorgi Karamanishvili, little-known figures to the wider public in Georgia, who arethought to be associates of former President Saakashvili.

Since 2004 the television station has changed hands multiple times and most of the changes in ownership structure were intertwined with politics, creating a complex web of controversial deals and a multitude of former owners of which Khalvashi is not the only one who now wants to reclaim the broadcaster.

The opposition side are going to appeal to Tbilisi City Court in a high court bail.

03 November 2015 19:11