Why buy a single copy of a daily newspaper when you can buy the entire company for the same price? That may be the thinking behind the purchase of the UK’s “The Independent” and “The Independent on Sunday” by Russian billionaire Alexander Lebedev.
The price tag to acquire the newspapers from Independent News and Media (INM) was a single British pound. Actually, the price is less than that, since INM will also pay Lebedev 9.25 million pounds to cover the newspaper’s expected losses for the rest of 2010. Lebedev already owns a 75% stake in the “London Evening Standard,” which also carried a one pound price tag.
“I invest in institutions which contribute to democracy and transparency,” he was quoted as saying in his newly acquired Independent. That may seem like a strange thing to hear from a former KGB Lieutenant Colonel, but he walks the walk as well as talks the talk. Lebedev, along with former President Mikhail Gorbachev, owns “Novaya Gazeta,” a pro-democracy newspaper in Moscow which has a reputation for independence. It also has a reputation for irking the current Kremlin establishment and one of its best journalists, Anna Politkovskaya, was murdered in 2006.