Independent sells UK titles for £1


Independent News and Media (INM) has sold its London Independent and Independent on Sunday titles to Independent Print Limited (IPL) for the nominal sum of £1.

The company, which is controlled by the family of Russian billionaire Alexander Lebedev will take over the rights to the Independent, the Independent on Sunday and the website. Staff will transfer to IPL.

Independent News will pay £9.25 million to IPL over the next 10 month to take on the future liabilities of the newspapers.

Group chief executive Gavin O’Reilly said it was "satisfactory and positive" outcome for the titles, staff and INM 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," he said. The transaction is expected to be completed in May.

INM wil continue to print the Trinity Mirror titles in its facilities in Northern Ireland.

Mr Lebedev, an ex-KGB agent who bought the London Evening Standard last year, said he was committed to investing in the two titles. He also said that he and ex-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev planned to establish a not-for-profit media foundation that would finance global media projects for newspapers including Novaya Gazeta, a pro-democracy Russian newspaper they co-own.

Shares in INM rose 10.4 per cent to more than 11 cent today on the Dublin market.