The Serbian government is a step away from gaining full control over the Novosti media company, the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) said on Friday.
BIRN said the Belgrade Economic Court adopted a reorganization plan which would allow the government to take control of Novosti which publishes the Vecernje Novosti daily. Under the plan, creditors will be repaid in shares in the media company.
Novosti’s overall debt stands at more than 1.4 billion Dinars (almost 12 million Euros). The bulk of the debt (670 million Dinars (about 5.6 million Euros) is owed to the Borba print works which is 80 percent state owned. The Borba print works and the Addiko Bank had the deciding votes and both chose to adopt the reorganization plan with the Finance Ministry and holders of smaller debts voting against it.
The reorganization plan was proposed by Novosti CEO Srdjan Muskatirovic representing majority owner Milan Beko who bought a controlling share (62.3 percent) of Novosti in 2006, leaving the government holding 29.5 percent.
Under the plan, Beko’s shares would go to the state. Under the current law on public information and the media the government was obliged to pull out of the media by July 1, 2015.