Lebedev buys Independent for one pound

Independent News & Media (INM) has sold The Independent and The Independent on Sunday to Independent Print Limited (IPL), a company controlled by the family of Alexander Lebedev, for £1.


IPL now acquires all rights to The Independent, The Independent on Sunday and the related website, www.independent.co.uk. In addition, INM’s worldwide titles will continue to enjoy full access to The Independent’s editorial copy.

The deal also means that Ivan Fallon, chief executive of Independent News & Media UK retires from the group.
Lebedev already controls The Evening Standard, which he bought from Associated Newspapers and then turned into a free newspaper. Industry observers speculate that IPL may deploy a mixed revenue model for The Independent, making it free at certain times of the day in certain locations and charging at other periods.

The daily saw a year on year drop of 10.3% in average net circulation to 186,081 in February for the six months from September 2008 to February 2009.

Gavin O’Reilly, group CEO of INM says: “This is a most satisfactory and positive outcome for the titles, their staff and for INM’s shareholders. The transaction will be immediately earnings accretive for INM. After our successful refinancing in late 2009, this transaction marks an important milestone in the repositioning of our group and will allow INM to focus solely on its market leading, cash generative assets in Ireland, Northern Ireland, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

INM posted group full year results for 2009 yesterday and reported a 54% drop in pre-tax profit.

As part of the transaction, INM will pay IPL £9.25m over the next 10 months in exchange for IPL assuming all future trading liabilities and obligations.

The disposal is subject to certain regulatory conditions, including Irish Competition approval.

Existing Independent and Independent on Sunday staff will transfer to IPL and the company will continue to operate from the current premises in Kensington, London.

INM has certain financial and operational commitments to Trinity Mirror Printing Limited and Daily Mail & General Trust and they will continue, albeit the Trinity Mirror guarantee will be at a significantly reduced level and for a shorter period.

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