Fidel.ru, one of Russia's largest music download stores, has returned to its previous owners following financial problems for majority stakeholder RBC.

The media group RBC, which has recently faced major financial problems, obtained a controlling stake in Fidel.ru for $8.5 million in February 2008 and has now returned it to the original owners, four private individuals, Boris Golikov, Fidel's general director and co-owner, confirms to Billboard.biz. The value of the new deal has not been disclosed.

"RBC was unable to implement its obligations regarding investment in the project," Golikov says.

Along with Soundkey.ru, Fidel is a top player in Russia's digital music market. The two stores account for up to 70% of legitimate online music sales, according to iKS-Consulting. In 2009, Fidel's revenues are projected to be $570,000, and it is to pay $400,000 in guaranteed license fees to Universal Music and Sony Music, Golikov said.

Fidel does not have licenses with Warner Music or EMI Music and Golikov says that the terms offered by the two majors were not acceptable.

"We couldn't accept the conditions they offered regarding minimum guarantees, royalties and technical issues," Golikov says, adding that his company has also had difficulties negotiating with domestic labels, as some of them were reluctant to release digital rights to their material to anyone at all.

According to Golikov, the download store's strategy is to focus on signing direct agreements with new artists before the acts have deals with labels.