xi's moments
Home | Europe

Mystery investor in London daily newspaper named

By Earle Gale in London | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2019-02-26 02:27

File Photo: London Evening Standard newspaper front headline reporting on the British Prime Minister Theresa May Brexit speech on leaving the European Union, London, United Kingdom, 17 Jan 2017. [Photo/IC]

The Financial Times has named the mystery buyer who bought a 30 percent stake in London’s Evening Standard newspaper in December as Saudi Arabian banker Sultan Mohamed Abuljadayel.

Speculation about the identity of the person who bought into the parent group that owns the paper had been rife, partly because the buyer had used a Cayman Islands-registered company in an apparent attempt to mask who he was.

The Financial Times said two insiders with knowledge of the deal had confirmed Abuljadayel’s involvement.

Arabian Business, the Dubai-based weekly business magazine, said Abuljadayel was rumored to have spent around 25 million pounds ($32.7 million) on his 30 percent stake in the London daily newspaper that is edited by former United Kingdom chancellor George Osborne.

The Evening Standard is majority owned by Lebedev Holdings, the corporate vehicle that belongs to Evgeny Lebedev, the Russian-British tycoon who also owns The Independent newspaper and the London Live television channel.

Two years ago, Abuljadayel bought around 30 percent of The Independent, which is a wholly online newspaper. At the time, the BBC said the then 42-year-old was from a family with a very large portfolio of international property and that he had close links to the Saudi royal family and the nation’s government, but that he was a member of neither. He has been linked with NCB Capital, the investment banking arm of Saudi Arabia’s National Commercial Bank.

In December, the mystery investor was thought to have bought a 20 percent slice of the Evening Standard for 14 million pounds.

A spokesperson for ESI Media, which is owned by Lebedev Holdings, said at the time: “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.”

Since then, speculation about the identity of the investor was keen, in part because critics claimed changes in the ownership of newspapers can lead to changes in editorial policy.

When Abuljadayel bought a stake in The Independent in 2017, the Press Gazette reported that editor Christian Broughton had written an email to staff, saying the paper 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,” he wrote. “We will continue to expose injustice and abuse around the world, wherever we find it.”

The Evening Standard is a free daily newspaper that is published from Monday to Friday and is the main local newspaper covering the London area. It has a daily circulation of around 860,000 copies. The paper was founded in 1827 by barrister Stanley Lees Giffard. It has been known over the years as a staunch supporter of the right-of-center Conservative Party and as a harsh critic of the left-of-center Labour Party. Last year, the paper recorded a 10-million-pound loss.

The Guardian newspaper said on Monday a spokesperson for the Evening Standard did not dispute that Abuljadayel was behind the purchase.

Global Edition
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349