Lebedev Indy deal rests on office agreements

LONDON - Alexander Lebedev's expected purchase of The Independent and The Independent on Sunday is all but finalised, with the amount paid to DMGT for the upkeep of the offices they share, which includes a wrangle over parking, the final hurdle to clear.

Alexander Lebedev: believed to be in the process of buying purchase of The Independent and The Independent on Sunday
Alexander Lebedev: believed to be in the process of buying purchase of The Independent and The Independent on Sunday

According to a source with knowledge of the deal, Lebedev is looking to thrash out more favourable terms with Daily Mail & General Trust (DMGT), before finally green-lighting the deal to purchase The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.

IN&M, parent company of The Independent and The Independent on Sunday, and The Evening Standard currently pay DMGT a contribution towards the upkeep of its Kensington headquarters, which all three occupy and includes sharing some back office functions, estimated to be between £4m and £5m per year, according to the source.

It is believed Lebedev is looking for a discounted combined agreement – given that following the completion of a deal he would own The Evening Standard and The Independent titles.

There are also "trivial" aspects of this service agreement, according to the source, such as the number of car parking spaces Lebedev's two papers' will be allocated once the deal has gone through, the rubber stamping of which is still understood to be imminent.

On Friday, The Times ran a story that the deal was done, but Reuters subsequently ran a piece quoting a source saying "there's no deal until there's a deal".

Yesterday IN&M continued to reduce its bank debt after it cashed in shares in Indian publisher Jagran Prakashan. It sold 23.5 million ordinary shares, netting it around €42m.

IN&M declined to comment. The London Evening Standard and DMGT were unavailable to comment.

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