Independent deal still eludes IN&M as it reveals €31.4m loss

LONDON - Independent News & Media has not been able to announce a deal with Alexander Lebedev for its Independent and Independent on Sunday titles, before publishing its financial results.

IN&M: talks on sale of Independent titles continue
IN&M: talks on sale of Independent titles continue

But the company said discussions with the Evening Standard owner are continuing with an announcement expected "very shortly".

The results today (24 March) revealed IN&M's revenues had deteriorated by 14.9% between 2008 and 2009, to €1.26bn.

It made an operating profit of €177.2m, but took charges on exceptional items of €145.8m, which led to a pre-tax loss of €31.4m.

The two titles Lebedev covets suffered a 33% advertising revenue drop in sterling terms.

IN&M's UK division, which houses these titles along with Northern Ireland papers the Belfast Telegraph and the Sunday Life, suffered an operating loss before exceptional items of €6.9m, after revenue dropped 29% to €122.7m.

IN&M said The Independent and IoS reduced their losses, due to major cost savings put in place at the end of 2008, and the service-sharing agreement with the Daily Mail and General Trust implemented in the first half of 2009.

Providing a commentary on trading since the year end to 19 March, IN&M said revenues were ahead of the same period 2009 by 5.8%, reflecting an improvement in exchange rates.

IN&M sold a number of assets last year as it battled to generate cash, but only made a €5.4m net gain. The disposals included its INM Outdoor subsidiary in South Africa, and stakes in Indian publisher Jagran Prakashan and bingo operator Cashcade.

The company made a €2.4m payment to Sir Anthony O'Reilly when he retired as a director and chief executive with effect from 7 May 2009, covering compensation and pension contributions.

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