An unnamed investor bought a 20 per cent stake in the Evening Standard’s parent company in December through a Cayman Islands firm, but owner Evgeny Lebedev has refused to shed further light on their identity.
The free daily newspaper’s parent company, Lebedev Holdings, received a £14m investment from the unknown financier, according to the Financial Times.
The FT reported that the mystery Cayman Islands-company owner bought more than 20 per cent of Lebedev Holdings and has an 18 per cent indirect share of the Evening Standard.
A Companies House filing from December last year showed a change in Lebedev’s nature of control in the company to a person with more than 50 per cent but less than 75 per cent of shares in the firm.
The Times reported in April last year that Lebedev had upped his stake in the Evening Standard – which is edited by former chancellor George Osborne – to 88.8 per cent.
A spokesperson for Evening Standard and Independent owner ESI Media said: “Lebedev Holdings Limited is a private holding company and as such we never comment publicly on our individual shareholders. We have no further comment to make in this matter.”
Two years ago it was revealed that a Saudi investor took a 30 per cent stake in the Independent newspaper – a move that led to concerns about its editorial independence.
Independent editor Christian Broughton told staff in an email at the time, reported by Press Gazette, that the Independent would “remain truly independent of any shareholders or business interests” under the protection of a formal “shareholder agreement”.
“Our coverage is there for all to see. We will continue to expose injustice and abuse around the world, wherever we find it,” he said.
The Saudi investor Sultan Mohamed Abuljadayel bought the 30 per cent share in the Independent which is held by Scalable Inc.
The FT reported that an entity going by the same name was registered by Walkers Corporate in the Cayman Islands two years ago. Walkers Corporate is the agent of the unnamed Lebedev Holdings investor.
Picture: Press Gazette