March 25 (Reuters) - Independent News & Media (INME.I) agreed to pay Russian billionaire Alexander Lebedev 9.25 million pounds ($14 million) to take on the Independent, ending over a year of uncertainty over the loss-making title. [ID:nLDE62O1QP]
Here are some facts on Lebedev:
— Lebedev is worth $2.0 billion and is the world’s 488th richest person, according to the latest global rich list published by Forbes magazine. His fortune comes mainly from his stakes in banking and insurance companies.
— Lebedev once owned the Moskovsky Korrespondent and is co-owner of Novaya Gazeta, which aspires to symbolise independent journalism in Russia. Anna Politkovskaya wrote for Novaya Gazeta until her murder in 2006.
— Lebedev who bought the London Evening Standard in 2009 which later became a free newspaper, said he was committed to investing in the two titles, which will be owned by Independent Print Limited, a company controlled by his family. He will pay 1 pound to INM.
— Born in Dec. 1959 in Moscow, his father was an engineering professor and retired athlete and his mother an English and history teacher.
— He studied at the elite Moscow State Institute of International Relations from 1977 to 1982 and graduated in economics, with a special interest in international debt.
— He began working in 1982 at the Institute of Economics of the World Socialist System, researching for a doctorate on the problems of debt and the challenges of globalisation.
— He later accepted a post in the KGB’s foreign intelligence arm and was posted to London as economics attache. He remained in the KGB and one of its successors until 1992.
— He has said his job in London was primarily to analyse how events in the Soviet Union were perceived in Britain.
— In 1992, Lebedev founded the Russian Investment-Finance Company, which in 1995 took over the struggling National Reserve Bank. Later, the National Reserve Bank became one of only two large banks to survive the 1998 financial crisis in Russia.
— The holding company to which the National Reserve Bank belongs owns over 25 percent of national airline Aeroflot and stakes in aircraft leasing company Ilyushin Finans Co, Gazprom and other companies. In March however he sold his Aeroflot stake back to the airline.
— He ran to be mayor of Moscow in 2003 but lost to Yuri Luzhkov. In the same year, he was elected as a deputy to Russia’s lower house, the Duma, where he promoted legislation to reduce official privileges, to ban gambling from Russian cities and to prevent the sale of tobacco and alcohol to teenagers. In 2008 he returned to business but also founded the Independent Democratic Party of Russia together with former Russian leader Mikhail Gorbachev.
— Last April a Russian court barred Lebedev from running as mayor of Sochi, the city hosting the 2014 Winter Olympics. Lebedev said officials had moved to oust him from the race because they were afraid he would scupper the chances of the candidate from the ruling United Russia party.
— Lebedev is active in several charities and works closely with the Gorbachev family. He was a founder of the Raisa Gorbachev Foundation and supported many cancer and Russian Orthodox Christian charities.
Sources: Reuters/Forbes/Lebedev’s Website (www.alebedev.ru)/ (Writing by Georgina Prodhan and David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit)