Media magnate; Born November 27, 1929; Died July 21, 2007.

Jesus de Polanco, who has died aged 77, was a media giant credited with helping restore an independent media in Spain after the death of General Francisco Franco.

El Pais, owned by Polanco's media conglomerate Grupo PRISA, said Polanco was surrounded by his children when he died of a rheumatic disease.

Polanco founded Grupo PRISA, which also owns a slew of radio and TV stations and publishing companies, and was very close to the ruling Socialist Party, making him one of Spain's most influential figures.

He was one of the creators of El Pais, which began to publish in the waning years of Franco's dictatorship. It became Spain's most read newspaper as the country returned to democracy, and remains its top-selling daily.

Polanco, with a net worth of £1.5bn, was ranked 287th on the Forbes list of the world's billionaires released in March.

He is credited with transforming a company once composed only of El Pais into an international media conglomerate with extensive holdings in Latin America.

Condolences poured in from all quarters in Spain on the announcment of his death, from the Royal Palace to the Popular Party.

Polanco was also a pioneer of digital television in Spain. Three of his four children from the first of his two marriages all hold senior posts in Grupo PRISA companies.

Earlier this year Polanco designated his son Ignacio Polanco Moreno to succeed him as Grupo PRISA chairman.