Guardian dismisses reports 'The Observer' is for sale

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The Independent Online

Speculation that The Observer, Britain's oldest Sunday newspaper, could be sold by its owners was strenuously denied last night.

Speculation that The Observer, Britain's oldest Sunday newspaper, could be sold by its owners was strenuously denied last night.

The Mail on Sunday reported that informal approaches had been made by Guardian executives to other newspaper groups, sounding them out about The Observer - although no price had been mentioned.

However, this was denied by Guardian Newspapers whose spokesman described the report as "wholly without foundation". Space had been allocated to The Observer in new buildings - to which the group is planning to move in 2008 - it was pointed out.

Selling The Observerwould leave The Guardian as the only major national newspaper without a sister Sunday title. Retention of a Sunday title is considered in the industry to be essential to keeping reader loyalty seven days a week.

The speculation comes as The Guardian is on the verge of a number of crucial financial decisions. It has already said it will invest £50m in new printing works aimed at producing a mid-sized version of the paper and The Observer in response to the new compact editions of The Independent and The Times.

The Guardian and The Observer made a collective loss of £6.2m - down from £7.5m the previous year - on a turnover of £227.5m, figures showed earlier this year.

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