Saturday, October 6, 2012

Russian Invasion

With a report that Russian oligarch David Traktovenko (left) has slipped into town for Summer, the Shuttle hears a former KGB spy has his eyes set on Australia.

Alexander Lebedev worth a reputed $3B owns Russia's largest bank, a third of Aeroflot, and the UK Independent and Evening Standard newspapers. The Shuttle reported last year that Lebedev and his son Evygeny who runs the families UK interests had cast their the attention on Australia's media.
Evygeny &Alexander Lebedev 
That was put on hold when the Huffington Post re-launched it's new UK & USA on-line newspapers which have become a roaring success, and mooted plans for a Southern hemisphere edition based in Australia. The Aussie version didn't eventuate.

Apparently Lebedev has re-newed his interest and a representative has been in town for 2 weeks based at the Park Hyatt Hotel, holding meetings with a number of people including several well known media figures and meeting with local banks.

Could this be a lifeline for workers of the ailing Fairfax empire that appears to be stumbling badly ?. Last week it's reported Fairfax laid off 29 employees in Melbourne including 18 photographers. News Ltd is also planning large redundancies.
Lebedev subsidies his UK newspaper businesses which don't make a profit but he enjoys the power that comes with being a media mogul while son Evgeny is a fixture on the London social circuit.

On-line newspapers will be the future of publishing.  The Global Mail with it's unique reading format is going from strength to strength and attracting quality writers while crikey has just re-launched it's new website. A recent competitor Independent Australia is quickly gaining a reputation for breaking stories. It's been way ahead of both News & Fairfax in the HSU scandal and been publishing exclusive stories, even trumping both with a scoop about the imminent arrest of the former HSU boss Michael Williamson . The 2 major Australian publishers have lagged in coming to grips with digital and they could now have a well heeled competitor with solid media links on the other side of the world.