Johnston Press, the UK publisher that offloaded its Irish stable of regional titles in 2014, is to acquire the popular daily title i which is being sold by Evgeny Lebedev, the owner of The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
The latter two publications have been loss making for some time and will close at the end of March although the website will remain in situ as the company moves to become a digital only play. A price tag of around £24m has been placed on the daily paper which sells for just 20p, although this has not been disclosed.
Lebedev bought the Independent and Independent on Sunday from Independent News & Media in 2010. However, since then the titles have struggled and rumours about their future have been circulating for several months. Lebvedev also owns the popular London Evening Standard title which is not part of the sale.
Lebedev has said that he has pumped in well over £100m to keeping the titles afloat in recent years with as much as £65m of this going to prop up the ailing Independent and Independent on Sunday. He has also said that the newspaper’s website, which has 58 million monthly readers, is profitable and will see revenue growth in the order of 50% this year.