Evgeny Lebedev among the newspaper barons in battle to buy the Metro – Telegraph.co.uk

The owner of the Evening Standard has made an approach to buy the Metro newspaper from the publisher of the Daily Mail, as media barons jockey for position in an industry merger melee.

Evgeny Lebedev, the 37-year-old owner of the London freesheet edited by former chancellor George Osborne, is understood to be keen to add the Metro to his stable to drive cost savings and expansion outside the capital.

Industry sources said Mr Lebedev aimed to use the Metro’s nationwide distribution network to launch regional versions of the Evening Standard. The plan would gather a national audience of commuters on both their way to work and journey home. It would give Mr Lebedev’s empire, which also includes the online-only Independent and local TV channel London Live, greater clout online.

The Moscow-born publisher faces competition however, including from a Norwegian entrepreneur.

It is understood that Christen Ager-Hanssen, who has already signalled his intention to acquire the debt-laden publisher of the i, Johnston Press, by acquiring an 8pc stake, has also opened talks with Metro owner Daily Mail & General Trust. The newspaper is valued at between £30m and £40m.

Mr Ager-Hanssen has said he aims to lead consolidation among British mass market newspapers. He plans to open up new sources of income by combining their large online audiences and deliver traffic to start-up technology businesses also owned by his fund, Custos.

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