Evening Standard's new owner says job losses 'possible'

Job losses at the London Evening Standard are ‘possible’, according to a spokesman for its new owner Alexander Lebedev – but investment will be made to bring the title ‘upmarket’.

The sale of the Standard by the Daily Mail and General Trust to Evening Press Ltd, owned by Lebedev and his 28-year-old son Evgeny, was confirmed this morning.

The deal – which Press Gazette understands is valued at the nominal sum of £1 – will be finalised next month, once a staff consultation has finished.

‘No decision will be taken on staff numbers until the end of the staff consultation, commenced today,’a spokesman said.

‘In that context, it is clearly possible that there may be a limited number of further job losses, but this is yet to be decided.”

But Press Gazette understands that, despite job losses, the Lebedevs are set to invest £25m in the paper over the next three years.

The website will be improved, with its ‘This Is London’title expected to be dropped.

The new owners are also expected to move the Standard upmarket, by focusing on more ‘high-end’culture, such as book and theatre reviews, rather than celebrity photos.

The Standard’s City coverage, widely praised already, will benefit from investment, while the editorial line will mimic the Daily Mail less – but will not become left-wing.

It is hoped the upmarket shift will distinguish the Standard from its free rivals, and boost sales.

Press Gazette also understands a new editor is likely to be appointed once the consultation has finished.

An ‘editorial committee’of senior media figures will be established – though no names are confirmed – and they will decide whether to keep Veronica Wadley, or appoint a new editor.

Tatler editor Geordie Greig, former literary editor of The Sunday Times, is rumoured to be the Lebedevs’ favourite.

The Lebedev group will own 75.1 per cent of the paper, with DMGT keeping a minority 24.9 per cent stake.

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