London: Russian tycoon Alexander Lebedev bought Britain`s struggling Independent and Independent on Sunday newspapers for a token sum on Thursday, a year after acquiring another top British title cheaply.
Lebedev, an ex KGB agent, paid GBP 1 for the papers, while its current owners will pay GBP 9.25 million in the next 10 months to his firm Independent Print Limited (IPL) for taking on future liabilities.
The sale highlights the problems faced by many British newspapers who, like titles around the world, are struggling to attract advertising revenue and keep circulation high in the digital age.
The two titles` previous owners, Dublin-based Independent News and Media (INM), announced the long-expected sale in a statement.
"I believe that 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," said INM`s group chief executive Gavin O`Reilly.
Lebedev, a wealthy Russian oligarch, bought London`s Evening Standard newspaper for a nominal GBP 1 in January last year in a deal which made him co-owner with his son
Evgeny. It became a free paper in October.
He has interests in banking and aviation and already co-owns, with ex-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, a 49 percent holding in the Novaya Gazeta newspaper, which has been critical of the Kremlin.