Friday 18 December 2009

Lebedev closing in on Independent says FT

Alexander Lebedev, the owner of London’s Evening Standard, is in advanced talks to buy the the Independent and the Independent on Sunday, the Financial Times claims today.
It says: "Lebedev has held intermittent talks over the past year with publisher Independent News & Media to buy its UK national newspapers. However, plans were put on hold over the summer as INM started wrangling with its lenders about the restructuring of its €1.3bn (£1.2bn, $1.9bn) debt pile.
"Now that process has been completed, talks have restarted, according to people familiar with the matter." Neither Lebedev or INM have commented to the FT.
The FT notes: "The Independent was widely reported earlier this year to be suffering losses of more than £10m a year. INM’s board, led by Gavin O’Reilly, had faced significant pressure from Denis O’Brien, the telecoms tycoon who currently holds 14 per cent, to dispose of the titles."
Update: Media Guardian reported this afternoon that Independent News & Media confirmed it was in exclusive non-binding talks with Lebedev over the sale of the Independent and Independent on Sunday.
INM said the period of exclusive talks with Lebedev over the future ownership of the two London-based papers ran until 15 February. There is speculation that a Lebedev-owned Independent could go free, meaning Londoners would get a free morning and, with the Standard having scrapped its cover price, a free evening paper.

No comments: