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The Russian-born U.S. billionaire Leonard Blavatnik has made an offer to buy the controlling share in the financially ailing tabloid Ma'ariv from the Nimrodi family.

Blavatnik recently began forging business ties with Israel. He's been teaming up with media producer Aviv Giladi to buy a 20% holding in his media firm RGE, through Blavatnik's holding company Access Industries.

Attorney Zvi Hefetz, who also has represented another Ma'ariv shareholder, Vladimir Gusinsky (25%), acted as Blavatnik's intermediary. Hefetz served as Maariv's deputy chairman until four years ago, when he was appointed Israel's ambassador in London.

Born in the former USSR to Jewish parents, Blavatnik founded Access upon completing his studies, and is the company's president and chairman.

Access invests in a wide range of sectors, from natural resources and chemicals to media and real estate. Its holdings include Warner Music Group and Amedia, the holding company of one of Russia's largest TV studios.

The Sunday Times rated Blavatnik as the 11th most wealthy man in Britain, where he spends part of his time, estimating his fortune at about 3.9 billion pounds sterling.

Hefetz and Nimrodi were unavailable for comment.