Russian tycoon buys two ailing British national newspapers for just one pound

09:54, March 26, 2010      

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A Russian tycoon has bought two British national newspapers and a website -- for just one pound ( about 1.49 U.S. dollars), it was announced on Thursday.

Billionaire Alexander Lebedev bought "The Independent," its sister title "The Independent on Sunday" and their associated website for less than it would cost to buy copies of the two papers.

Both newspapers, currently owned by Independent News and Media (INM), made a loss of 12.4 million pounds (about 18 million dollars) over 2009.

Lebedev is likely to become owner in May, possibly after the probable date of the general election on May 6.

As part of the transaction, INM, an Irish company, will pay new owner Independent Print Limited (IPL) 9.25 million pounds (about 13.5 million dollars) to fund IPL assuming all future trading obligations. Existing staff will transfer to IPL.

Gavin O'Reilly, group chief executive officer of INM, said: " This is a most satisfactory and positive outcome for the titles, their staff and for shareholders."

"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 assets in Ireland, Northern Ireland, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. "

"I believe that the Lebedevs will be progressive and supportive owners of the Independent titles which have played such an important role in British public life for nearly 25 years."

"The Independent" was founded in 1986 by three journalists, with the advertising slogan "It is, are you?".

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