Belfast Telegraph

Russian billionaire purchases Independent titles from INM

Russian billionaire Alexander Lebedev has agreed to buy the Independent and Independent On Sunday for a nominal £1.

The Lebedev family will take control of the loss-making national titles and the Independent website, with existing staff set to transfer over after the takeover.

The deal will see Independent News & Media (INM), which also owns the Belfast Telegraph, pay Mr Lebedev £9.25m over 10 months to take on the future liabilities of the newspapers.

Mr Lebedev said: “I am a supporter of in-depth investigative reporting and campaigns which promote transparency and seek to fight international corruption.

“These are things the Independent has always done well and will, I hope, continue to do.”

The papers will continue to be run out of their current offices in Kensington, west London — premises they already share with London's Evening Standard, which is owned by Mr Lebedev.

Shares in INM leapt 12% ahead on news of the takeover agreement. Gavin O'Reilly, group chief executive of INM, said: “This is a most satisfactory and positive outcome for the titles, their staff and for INM's shareholders.”

INM’s UK boss, Ivan Fallon will step down from his role as a result of the sale, which is expected to complete in May, subject to Irish competition approval.

Mr Lebedev also co-owns, with former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta.

Belfast Telegraph