Independent News & Media sells off London regionals

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The Independent Online

Independent News & Media, publisher of The Independent, has sold its London regional newspapers to Archant for £62m. The titles sold include the Islington Gazette, the Hornsey Journal and the Barking and Dagenham Post.

The deal is not conditional on regulatory approval and the price is being paid in two tranches. The first, for £52m in cash, was received yesterday with the remainder coming on the completion of the sale by about the end of December.

The first payment means Archant, the East Anglian regional newspaper group, has taken possession of three of Independent News & Media's London regional divisions, Post, east London and north London. The remaining two divisions, Kent and North West will be transferred by the end of the year.

The sale comes after the Department of Trade and Industry blocked a deal to sell the regional titles to Newsquest for £60m in October. After that, a number of other interested buyers came forward with more favourable bids.

Ivan Fallon, the chief executive of Independent News & Media, said: "Since October, when the DTI made its decision in relation to the original proposed Newsquest deal, a number of suitors, including private equity funds, expressed interest in either buying all or some of our London regionals. Having considered the merits of alternative offers, we have reached agreement with Archant, who we believe to be an ideal owner."

Archant is a privately owned group which can trace its roots back 150 years and is one of the biggest independent media groups in the country. It owns titles such as the Wisbech Standard, the Advertiser titles in Norfolk and Suffolk and has a lifestyle publishing arm which produces titles such as Lancashire and Lake District Life, Living France and French Property News. John Fry, the chief executive of Archant, said: "Archant is acquiring a strong portfolio of local newspapers that all play an important role in their communities.

"Opportunities to acquire regional newspapers portfolios of quality and scale are few and far between. We therefore consider this acquisition to be of significant strategic importance given the geographic proximity to our existing areas of publication and the enhancement it gives to our coverage in and around north and east London."