Publishers of the London Evening Standard newspaper, the Daily Mail and General Trust (DMGT), have agreed to sell a majority share in the historic tabloid to Russian billionaire Alexander Lebedev. DMGT will retain a minority share of around 25 per cent in the new firm, which will be called Evening Standard Ltd. Lebedev has assured readers that he strongly supports a free press and has no intention of interfering with editorial policy. The takeover is expected to take place in February after consultations with Evening Standard employees. The Standard has been in financial difficulty recently with loss in advertising revenue and fierce competition from the numerous free newspapers now available in London.