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Ellen Hammett 

Independent looking for a buyer

Independent looking for a buyer

The Independent is looking for a buyer, according to reports.

In his Guardian media blog, Roy Greenslade has reported that the paper's founder and current chairman of its publishing company, Andreas Wittham Smith, has been authorised to seek out a buyer after speculation that owners Alexander and Evgeny Lebedev have been looking to get rid of the paper and its sister titles, 'i' and the Independent on Sunday, for some time.

According to Greenslade, the Lebedevs have made "various cryptic statements" over the last six months about their willingness to "offload loss-making papers that they see no prospect of turning into profit."

In the last decade, the Independent has dropped in circulation by 190,000 - losing 11,000 copies in the last year alone. All three titles currently make a loss estimated at £10 million a year.

Greenslade writes that the first major indication of the decision to sell the papers was two key changes of personnel on the board of the company responsible for running them, with Wittham Smith moving from non-executive director to chairman and Evgeny standing down from the board.

"Wittham Smith is said to feel "honour bound" to save the title he launched in 1986 and to do all he can to find someone willing to continue publishing the paper," said Greenslade.

Media journalist and Newsline columnist, Raymond Snoddy, has said that the Evening Standard and London Live - set to launch in March - are not yet involved.

No bids have been put forward so far.

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