Reports suggest the former KGB agent is now in “advanced talks” with Independent News & Media.
Lebedev has been in discussions with the publisher since the summer, but this is the first time talks have reached close to an agreement. Independent News & Media recently posted a pre-tax loss of €48.5m (£42.7m) for the first half of the year.
The Independent already shares a newsroom with The Independent and Daily Mail staff. It has been focused on restructuring to ease its debts and has cut around 90 jobs as part of its cost-cutting.
The move would give Mr Lebedev his second purchase in the UK newspaper market after he bought London’s loss-making Evening Standard newspaper in January for a nominal fee and has made it a freesheet in October.
The Independent posted an average net circulation drop of 0.72% to 186,490 for September. The title is down 16.53% for the six months April to September, year-on-year. It now has a new commercial director at the helm in the form of Simon Davis.