Russian tycoon Alexander Lebedev is understood to be attempting to bring a wealthy Egyptian partner into his proposed takeover of the Independent newspapers, MediaGuardian can reveal. Sources close to the deal said the owner of the London Evening Standard was trying to persuade the Sawiris family to join him in his latest UK media venture. Lebedev, a former KGB spy, has told associates that he expects Egyptian billionaire Samih Sawiris to invest in the Independent and Independent on Sunday. The men are already partners in a chateau development in Switzerland, it is understood. “In addition to the Lucerne project, he will be involved in the Independent,” said one source close to Lebedev Tuesday. There was no immediate response from Lebedev today to inquiries from MediaGuardian, but a source close to the Russian dismissed the speculation. The billionaire, who in exclusive non-binding talks with Independent News & Media over the sale of the Independent and Independent on Sunday, has given few details of his offer for both titles. Negotiations are due to conclude by Monday, 15 February. INM’s pension deficit and printing deals are understood to be the stumbling blocks. Lebedev indicated last week there was as yet no deal with INM for the Independent titles.