Page last updated at 05:29 GMT, Thursday, 15 January 2009

Ex-KGB spy in bid to buy UK paper

 Alexander Lebedev

A Russian ex-KGB agent could soon be in control of London daily newspaper the Evening Standard.

Billionaire businessman Alexander Lebedev is believed to have made an offer for a 76% share of the paper.

He has previously revealed that he used the paper to find out information when he was a young spy based in London.

Owner Daily Mail and General Trust (DMGT) is believed to be considering the offer, although the company has made no official comment.

DMGT chairman Lord Rothermere is thought to have already rebuffed a bid Mr Lebedev made for the paper last month.

BBC media correspondent Torin Douglas said the paper had been hit by the advertising downturn and a fierce free newspaper battle in London.

An announcement could be made later.

Mr Lebedev has described the Standard as a "very good newspaper" with some "brilliant journalists".

His fortune, which is reported to be worth around $3.1bn (2.1bn), was made mostly through banking, insurance companies and from his stake in the Russian airline Aeroflot.

In 2006, he teamed up with ex-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to buy shares in the Russian paper Novaya Gazeta.

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Asian Age Ex-KGB agent to buy UK paper - 5 hrs ago
Telegraph Lebedev plans European empire - 14 hrs ago
Guardian UnlimitedRussian tycoon lines up Tatler editor to take over at Standard - 14 hrs ago
The Independent The thinking man's oligarch with his eye on a British institution - 22 hrs ago
Sydney Morning Herald KGB spy to buy English newspaper - 30 hrs ago
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