The ongoing legal battle between Vladimir Zelezny - General Director of the Czech Republic's hugely successful private television station TV Nova, and the American firm CME - the company which helped Mr Zelezny set up Nova in the early 1990s, took a new turn on Tuesday, when a French court ordered the confiscation of Mr Zelezny's private residence in Bretagne. At a press briefing in Prague later that day, Mr Zelezny said he was prepared to accept a recent ruling by the International Court of Arbitration and pay CME 27 million US dollars in compensation. So is the tide finally turning for the charismatic media mogul? Daniela Lazarova has the story.
Despite rumors that the TV magnate had transferred the bulk of his considerable assets to his former wife and various foundations, and was now what journalists jokingly dubbed "a penniless intellectual" Vladimir Zelezny appeared supremely confident as he promised that CME would get its money.
Mr Zelezny told reporters he was prepared to pay the set price for the original 5.8% share in Nova Consulting demanded by CME, but he said he would put up a fight to make sure that the shares he received in return would have their former value. How he intends to achieve that, after making the payment, is unclear, but a new court battle has not been ruled out.
More importantly though, Mr Zelezny failed to say when he intended to make the payment. Michael Donath, the CME representative present at the press briefing, made it perfectly clear that CME was not about to be fobbed off with a promise.
When everyone's through with him Mr Zelezny might truly end up being a penniless intellectual. But with the man whom Forbes magazine recently put on the list of the richest men in the world, that is somewhat unlikely. As for his successful TV empire, Zelezny's TV NOVA licence is not due to expire until 2005, and in spite of all the negative publicity commentators agree that he seems to be firmly strapped into the driving seat.
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