London, Mar. 26 (ANI): Russian billionaire and former KGB spy Alexander Lebedev has bought The Independent and Independent on Sunday for just a pound.
The paper's Dublin-based owner, Independent News and Media (INM), was so desperate to get rid of the titles that it has agreed to pay Lebedev 9.25 million pounds to cover one-million-a-month-losses it is expecting to incur this year.
"This is a most satisfactory and positive outcome for the titles, their staff and for INM's 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," The Telegraph quoted INM CEO Gavin O'Reilly, as saying.
After announcing the ownership, Lebedev's son Evegny pledged to retain the Independent's "in-depth investigative reporting and campaigns which promote transparency and seek to fight international corruption".
The titles will be sold to Independent Print Limited, the company Lebedev set-up specifically to buy the papers.
The deal is expected to complete in May 2010.
The newspapers' staff will remain at the Independent's current offices at the Daily Mail's headquarters in west London.
Lebedev will now control three British newspapers following his acquisition of the Evening Standard for one pound last January.
On Wedesday, INM reported a 31-million-euro pre-tax loss in 2009.
Revenue fell 15 percent 1.25 billion euros.
The group said advertising revenue at The Independent and IoS dropped 33 percent at constant currencies. (ANI)