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Tycoon Arkady Rotenberg May Buy Publisher of School Textbooks

The publishing giant displaying its titles at the Moscow International Book Exhibition.

Billionaire Arkady Rotenberg could soon become a co-owner of Prosveshcheniye, Russia's leading publisher of school textbooks, an unidentified publisher said Thursday.

Rosenberg, an old friend and former judo partner of President Vladimir Putin, who has amassed a huge portfolio of assets, is buying into the business just as a contentious new set of standardized history textbooks, which exclude figures such as former Yukos owner Mikhail Khodorkovsky and powerful late oligarch Boris Berezovsky, land on the president's desk for his approval.

Prosveshcheniye, which is English translates as Enlightenment, bought the Olma Media Group publishing company in 2012 and was valued at the time of the deal at 4 billion rubles ($124.7 million). Nearly half of Prosveshcheniye's revenues come from state contracts.

Rotenberg became chairman of Prosveshcheniye's board of directors in September, Dmitry Ivanov, director general of Olma Media Group, told Kommersant Wednesday.

The businessman's appointment as chairman is merely a precursor to a deal being signed between organizations owned by Rotenburg and the publisher's shareholders, the unidentified publisher said.

A spokesman for Rotenberg declined to comment on the report.

In 2008, Olma Media Group published a book called “Learning Judo with Vladimir Putin,” the royalties from which went to the president.

Arkady Rotenberg and his brother Boris Rotenberg own stakes in a number of companies, including 37.27 percent each in SMP Bank, one of Russia's top 50 lenders, and 80 percent jointly in InvestCapitalBank in the republic of Bashkortostan. Structures owned by Arkady Rotenberg also own 79.59 percent of fertilizers producer Minudopreniya in the Voronezh region.

In mid-October, Arkady Rotenberg bought 90 percent of Scanex, a supplier of satellite maps for Yandex, for $30 million.

In late September, he eyed a stake in the state-owned Sheremetyevo Airport, where TPS Avia Holding, which he co-owns, has controlled freight operations since June.

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