News. An anonymous offshore investor has taken a 20% stake in Lebedev Holdings, the privately-owned parent company of the London Evening Standard, the digital-only news brand The Independent, and London Live TV. The company refuses to reveal the identity of its new financial backer. Majority owner Evgeny Lebedev (former owner DMGT remains a minority shareholder) sold the stake to a Cayman Islands-registered company in December, according to official filings. It suggests that the investor has put almost £14m into Lebedev Holdings which made an operating loss of £18.3m in 2016-17, compared with a profit of £3.9 the previous year. It is widely believed that the mysterious investor is from Saudi Arabia because it is two years since Lebedev sold one-third of The Independent’s own subsidiary to a Cayman company controlled by a Saudi director of a state-controlled bank. According to the Financial Times, the recent anonymous investment in Lebedev Holdings was made by a Cayman Islands company founded by the same agent used during the Saudi investment in The Independent. The Guardian reported that The Independent last week launched a series of spin-off foreign-language websites funded, written and edited by a Saudi publishing company, reportedly with close ties to the Saudi royal family. The Evening Standard, whose editor-in-chief is the UK’s former Finance Minister George Osborne, distributes some 900k copies each weekday in London. In 2017, the newspaper incurred an operating loss of £9.9m (2016 profit: £2.2m) on revenues of £63.9m (£71.2m), due principally (no surprise) to reduced advertising yields. It is stepping up its digital activity and also events. But the advertising revenue pressures on the free newspaper underline the need for London’s only evening newspaper to re-think its commercial strategy. How about cross-media links with Global, London’s (and the UK’s) largest radio group which is also now one of the country’s major outdoor advertising groups? A radio-outdoor deal might also help Lebedev to turn-round the seemingly hopeless London Live TV which made 2017 operating losses of £3m on revenues of just £4m. The 2.5m gross monthly audience shows that it needs a complete revamp, perhaps as part of a wider media operation – if it is to survive. But, then, pervasive loss-making is what seems to define this curious media group. Evgeny Lebedev’s decision to sell a 20% stake to an unidentified offshore buyer (which comes at some risk to “sensitive” advertisers) implies that “safer” strategies have already been explored without success. What next?