Lebedev to Pay £1 for Newspaper

Businessman and former State Duma Deputy Alexander Lebedev is expected to purchase London tabloid Evening Standard for ?1 in what could be the first step in an effort to build up his European media assets.

Lebedev "supports free, independent media" and is in talks with several other newspapers in Britain and other European countries, Artyom Artyomov, a spokesman for Lebedev, said Friday, declining to elaborate.

London newspaper The Times reported Friday that Lebedev would likely buy Evening Standard for the newsstand price of two issues without saying where it got the information. The deal was expected to be completed Monday, it said. Evening Standard's circulation was about 290,000 in December, according to its parent company, Daily Mail and General Trust. British media have suggested that Evening Standard is losing about ?10 million per year.

Alexander Lebedev's National Reserve Corporation is part owner of Novaya Gazeta along with former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. Lebedev also owned tabloid Moscow Correspondent, which ceased to exist late last year after only one year.

On Thursday, a French court ruled that Alexander Pugachyov, the son of Tyva Senator Sergei Pugachyov and a French citizen, could increase his stake in the tabloid France-Soir from 19.9 percent, RIA-Novosti reported Friday.