By Stelios Orphanides
Ivan Savvidi, a Russian businessman of Greek descent, is considering investing in Cyprus, including in the area of mass media which he disclosed during a recent visit, Alithia reported on Friday.
Savvidi, who according to his personal website is operating in Russia in the area of production and trading of food, beverage, and tobacco products, chairing the Rostov-on-Don Agrocom Group Holding Company, is also the owner of the Greek football club PAOK, based in Thessaloniki.
Alithia said that reports in other media, linking Savvidi with possible acquisition of TVOne, the television channel owned by the Church of Cyprus, were unfounded, although the Church is ready to discuss a probable sale.
On Wednesday, Savvidi, who boasts about his links to Russian President Vladimir Putin on his website, attended the inauguration ceremony in parliament and was seated on the ground floor, next to Attorney-general Costas Clerides and the head of the Church of Cyprus, Archbishop Chrysostomos.
“We live in the state that can ring up people around the idea of being rich country with happy people (sic),” Savvidi appears to be quoted on his website in the caption next to a picture showing him in a tete-a-tete with Putin. “I’m proud to be Russian citizen and I’ll always protect interests of my country (sic)”.
Savvidi is not a newcomer to the mass media business. In August last year, he acquired around one fifth of Greece’s Mega Channel from Greek businessman Fotis Bobolas for a consideration of €5m. Two months later, Savvidi sold his stake to Cyprus’s Elenovo Ltd, a company headquartered in the same building which houses the Limassol-based law firm Andreas Sofocleous and Co. LLC.
In July 2017, Savvidi also acquired two Greek newspapers, Ethnos, including its Sunday edition, and Imerisia, plus their logos for a total of €3.6m.
The newspapers were also affiliated with the Bobolas family.