Independent News and Media, the family-controlled publishing company, has finalised the sale of its two flagship titles, the Independent and the Independent on Sunday, to Russian media mogul Alexander Lebedev.
The sale, which has taken months to negotiate, was finalised yesterday with Lebedev agreeing to pay just £1 for the titles. However, he has agreed to invest £9.25 million into the UK daily newspaper over the next 10 months and take on all the liabilities for the loss-making publications.
Gavin O'Reilly (pictured), second-generation CEO of the controlling O'Reilly family, said: "This is the most satisfactory outcome for the titles, their staff and for INM's shareholders. After our successful refinancing in late 2009, this transaction marks an important milestone in the repositioning of our group."
INM announced in December it was in talks with Lebedev regarding the future ownership of the titles. The proposed sale is part of a wider strategy to reduce debt at the Ireland-based publishing company, which has already sold other assets including its South African outdoor advertising business. A rights issue in December helped the debt-laden group raise €90.2 million towards further reducing its €1.4 billion debt. (Click here to read our coverage of the story)
The O'Reilly family, the largest shareholders in the business, were also forced to defend against a leadership challenge in 2009 from rebel shareholder Denis O'Brien, who is a long-standing critic of the family's control of the business. (Click here to read our coverage of the story)
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