Speculation swirls over Independent sale

Reports are circulating that for the second time in a year, The Independent may be up for sale once more.

Britain’s troubled newspaper The Independent is looking for investors, according to UK reports.

Last year the paper lost around £9 million – a relative improvement from the £16.6 million loss the year before and £22.3 million in 2011.

While no bankers have been appointed and no bidders announced, founder and chairman of The Independent’s publishing company, Andreas Whittam Smith, has been authorised to “seek new investors”.

The Guardian’s Roy Greenslade has written that Smith, in fact, is seeking a buyer.

Owner Alex Lebedev – whose empire also comprises the Evening Standard and local TV station London Live – has reportedly been looking to let go of the brand for some months, according to Greenslade.

Mr Lebedev said in an interview last year that his Russian businesses were not making enough money to fund his newspapers. His son, Evgeny, has stood down from the board.

The reports have given rise to speculation over who might be interested in the loss-making title.

One attraction could be The Independent’s cut-price sister title, i.

While the main paper sold only 43,492 copies at full price (£1.40) in November 2013, i reportedly made a profit at a price of 20p, selling 297,150 copies.

Its success has been credited to its accessibility and appeal to younger readers, who are prime targets for advertisers.

The catch in i’s value is that much of its content is currently syndicated from the main masthead.

Michelle Stanistreet, general secretary of the UK’s National Union of Journalists, voiced concerns about the potential consequences of a sale. “If buyers are sought, there must be guarantees on staffing levels and a commitment to the paper’s editorial independence,” she said.

“The Independent has an important role in providing a plurality of news content in the UK’s national newspaper market. It is essential that it can continue to do so.”

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