Yesterday we reported that the publishers of London’s Evening Standard had rejected Alexander Lebedev‘s bid to buy the newspaper, but it seems they have changed their minds. The UK’s Guardian reports that the former KGB agent turned billionaire will sign the deal with the Daily Mail & General Trust tomorrow.
The Guardian: Lebedev is poised to buy a controlling stake in the ailing title, following a year of secret negotiations with Lord Rothermere, its owner and the chairman of the Daily Mail & General Trust.
Under the terms of the deal Lebedev will purchase 76% of the newspaper, with the Associated Newspapers group retaining 24%. His son Evgeny, who lives in London, is due to sign the deal with Daily Mail & General Trust tomorrow. The agreement will make Lebedev the paper’s controversial new proprietor.
…The purchase will be an astonishing moment in British press history – the first time a former member of a foreign intelligence service has owned a British title. Speaking to MediaGuardian.co.uk on Wednesday, Lebedev said he had read the Evening Standard and other British newspapers when he was a young spy at the Soviet embassy in London in the late 1980s.
…The Russian tycoon also wants to establish a new editorial and advisory board for the Standard. This could include heavyweight global figures such as Mikhail Gorbachev – the former Soviet president and Lebedev’s personal friend – as well as Tony Blair, former French president Jacques Chirac and leading Russian editors.
It is unknown how much Lebedev is paying for the paper, but even after the credit crunch the oligarch is worth is a cool $2.5 billion, so it’s all just pocket rubles to him.
…”As far as I’m concerned this [buying the Standard] has nothing to do with making money. There are lots of other ways. This is a good way to waste money,” he told the Guardian.
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