Senator's Son Takes Charge After Buying French Paper

Alexander Pugachyov, the 23-year-old son of Senator Sergei Pugachyov, has been named general director of the French tabloid France-Soir, Agence France Presse reported Friday.

The appointment made Alexander Pugachyov the second son of a Russian oligarch to take the reins of a struggling foreign newspaper this year. In January, Alexander Lebedev bought a controlling stake in London's Evening Standard and promptly appointed his son, Yevgeny Lebedev, senior executive director of the paper's holding company.

The younger Pugachyov's purchase comes two years after a French court barred another Russian-Israeli tycoon, Arkady Gaidamak, from buying it. By law, noncitizens cannot own more than 20 percent of a French media outlet. The younger Pugachyov holds a French passport, and in January a Lille court allowed him to take control.

Sablon International, nominally controlled by Alexander Pugachyov, boosted its 19.9 percent stake to 85 percent that month, leaving former owner Jean-Pierre Brunois with 15 percent.

Spokespeople for Sablon or Luxavdor, Sergei Pugachyov's Luxembourg-based holding, declined comment. A spokesman for the elder Pugachyov's Russian holding, OPK, directed questions to Luxavdor's PR officer at SPN Oglivy, who declined comment.

A receptionist at France-Soir said the paper did not have a press service.

Sergei Pugachyov, whom Forbes says is worth about $500 million, is an avowed Francophile. Luxavdor owns gourmet French grocer Hediard and designer furniture factory Artelano.

The new management has already caused turbulence at France-Soir. On April 10, a majority of the paper's employees passed a vote of no confidence against their new editor-in-chief, Gilles Bornais, accusing him of public humiliation, harassment and incessant sarcasm.