Independent owners 'confident of positive outcome'

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The Independent Online

Independent News and Media (INM), said today that it remains confident of a positive outcome to negotiations over a €200m (£179.6m) bond, due to mature on 18 May.

The group which owns The Independent and The Independent on Sunday said that while it still remained profitable it was now in danger of breaching the covenants on its borrowing facilities, but, in its annual report, added that it was expected that the group would have "adequate resources to continue in operational existence for the foreseeable future".

INM swung to a pre-tax loss of €161.4m (£144.9m) in the 12 months to 31 December, a deterioration of 165 per cent on the previous year.

But this includes exceptional costs of €373.1m (£335.1m) relating to non-cash impairment charges linked to the economic downturn.

The group said current trading is "tougher than expected", but added that it still expected operating profits before exceptional items to be within a range of €200m and €230m (£179.6m and £206.6m).

In the UK, it said operating profit was down to €200,000 (£179,718).

Revenues in the UK slumped nearly 20 per cent to €215m (£193.2m), driven by a reduction in advertising and circulation revenues.

The company has already announced a move to Kensington where they will share office space with Associated Newspapers, which will deliver around £10m in annual cost savings.

The group said: "The Independent remains an integral part of the UK quality newspaper market."

This will be the last annual report with media tycoon Sir Anthony O'Reilly at the helm.

Sir Anthony will step down on his 73rd birthday in May and will be succeeded by his son Gavin.

The former Ireland and British and Irish Lions international rugby star has said he will support the company in retirement and is the firm's largest shareholder.