Billionaire entrepreneur seals Independent deal for £1

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The price that Lebedev paid for the loss-making paper represents the cost of one daily edition of the newspaper.

As part of the deal, Independent News & Media (INM) will pay Lebedev’s business – Independent Print Limited (IPL) – £9.25m over the next ten months, in exchange for IPL assuming all future trading liabilities and obligations.

“This is the most satisfactory and positive outcome for the titles, their staff and for INM’s shareholders,” comments Gavin O’Reilly, chief executive of INM.

Lebedev faces an uphill battle to return the newspapers to profitability. In the year ending 31 December 2009, amid falling sales and circulation, the Independent recorded an operating loss of £12.4m.

“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. I wish them, the titles and our former colleagues every success for the future,” adds O’Reilly.

The controversial entrepreneur – a former KGB agent now praised by Russia’s human rights community for his pro-democracy stance – also owns London’s Evening Standard newspaper, as well as Russian daily Novaya Gazeta (which he co-owns with former president Mikhail Gorbachev).

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