Roy Greenslade has set the hare running with his claim that Alexander Lebedev and his mini-mogul son Evgeny are looking to offload the Independent titles. The ‘viewspaper’ is understood to be haemorrhaging cash.
‘This is not new news,’ one insider tells me; although, as Greenslade reports, ‘the official line’ is that Independent Print (which makes the Indy, the Sindy and the i) ‘is merely seeking new investors.’ But even that won’t be easy: newsstand sales of the Indy are down to 43,224 (which in part reflects the success of the ‘i’) and any investor/bidder will have to consider the Indy’s integration with the (profitable) Evening Standard, which is so extensive that the two papers share the same newsroom. Here’s the circulation:
So, who might want to buy? There is no shortage of oligarchs and sheiks who want to put their stamp on London, the global capital, or fancy the entree to the various parties which usually comes with ownership of print. And under the editorship of Amol Rajan, the Indy has shown it has plenty of life yet – with a striking redesign and regular ability to set the agenda, as it did this week with its investigation into gender-specific abortions. It would be perfect for someone who wants to cause some mischief. But Mr S has heard that the rumoured name in the frame at Indy Towers is a Brit: what would the right-on hacks make of Charles Saatchi as their proprietor?
The Indy paid Saatchi and Saatchi £40,000 for its famous 1986 launch campaign: ‘It is, are you?’ The paper enjoyed daily sales of 400,000 by the end of that decade; but those days are long gone despite the comparative success of the I. Saatchi is a shrewd investor; would he really get involved with the company?
Roy Greenslade says that the Saatchi rumour has been scotched. But Mr S hears otherwise, and has asked the great man for comment. We await his reply with interest.