Russia to buy Lebedev out of carrier Aeroflot

RUSSIA is planning to tighten its grip on flagship airline Aeroflot by taking control of a 25.8 per cent stake owned by tycoon Alexander Lebedev for $400m (£247m) – owner of London’s Evening Standard newspaper – ridding the carrier of a major independent shareholder.

Aeroflot yesterday said it may strike a deal with Lebedev to buy his stake. The tycoon has often criticised the firm’s management for the lack of cost control measures and insisted on buying and leasing more foreign planes. Lebedev’s stake could be then used to pay the government for new, as yet unidentified, aviation assets to be merged with Aeroflot -- Russia’s biggest airline, but still a shadow of the mighty firm under the same name under the old Soviet regime.