Former KGB spy Alexander Lebedev buys Independent for £1, says The Times.
The Russian billionaire also bought the London Evening Standard for £1 last year and turned it into a free newspaper to attract more readers.
That's not the lowest price ever paid. The TV Guide was sold for a dollar in 2008.
But look at the deal— Lebedev is getting more than £9 million from the Irish owners of the Independent and Independent on Sunday just for taking the money-losing newspapers off their hands.
Independent News & Media (INM) agreed to pay Lebedev's Independent Print Limited £9.25 million over the next 10 months, says the Financial Times. The new owner will in exchange assume "all future liabilities and obligations", says the Guardian.
The TV Guide was also sold on similar terms, with the old owner lending $9.5 million to the new owner who, in return, assumed all liabilities, according to Ad Age.
INM has been desperate for a sale because the newspapers have been losing more than £1 million a month, says the Financial Times.
The Times says:
The Independent launched in 1986 with the slogan: “It is. Are you?” The paper's circulation reached 400,000 in 1989 and The Independent on Sunday launched in 1990. But in the 12 months ending December 31, 2009, the two papers lost £12.4 million as fully paid-for circulation fell to fewer than 100,000 copies a day.
Lebedev with a fortune estimated at $2 billion is the world's 488th richest man, according to Forbes. He also owns the Novaya Gazeta, Russia's leading opposition newspaper, and earlier held a stake in the Russian national airline, Aeroflot.
The Independent, announcing it has been bought by him, says under his ownership "the Evening Standard’s circulation has risen from 250,000 to 600,000 and it is now read by 1.4 million Londoners daily".
He will be the fourth owner of the Independent. It was launched in 1986 by former Telegraph journalists Andreas Whittam Smith, Stephen Glover and Matthew Symonds, bought by Mirror Group Newspapers in the 1990s, and then sold to INM.