Want to Own a Newspaper? Got $1.50?

Russian oligarch buying iconic London paper for token sum
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 16, 2009 8:19 AM CST
Alexander Lebedev, the Russian oligarch and former KGB agent, is set to purchase London's Evening Standard for the nominal price of one pound.   (Flickr)
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(Newser) – A Russian oligarch with a past in the KGB is set to buy one of London's most visible newspapers, at the knockdown price of just a buck and a half. Alexander Lebedev will acquire the Evening Standard for the token price—the cost of two copies—from a media conglomerate that also publishes Britain's Daily Mail. Lebedev, a tycoon who keeps his distance from Russia's elite, may be angling to buy more media properties, reports the London Times.

Famous for its blaring headlines advertised on sandwich boards, the Standard loses about $15 million a year, exacerbated by declining newspaper readership and competition from free papers. Lebedev, although an unlikely buyer, has experience with media; he owns Russia's Novaya Gazeta, whose star journalist Anna Politkovskaya was murdered for criticizing the Kremlin. The sale could be completed as soon as Monday.
(Read more Russian oligarchs stories.)