Alexander Lebedev has drawn up a shortlist targeting some of Britain's biggest media names to edit the Independent.
The owner of the Evening Standard has drawn up a wishlist that is said to feature Greg Dyke, the former director general of the BBC, Ian Hislop, editor of Private Eye, and Newsnight presenter Jeremy Paxman.
When approached by MediaGuardian, Dyke said: "I never confirm or deny any rumours." Hislop and Paxman were both unavailable for comment.
A previous attempt to recruit a star, the former BBC Radio 4 Today editor Rod Liddle, was abandoned following a public outcry against the columnist.
The Russian billionaire could finalise the acquisition of the daily title by the end of this week.