Evgeny Lebedev: 'Independent may go partially free'

The Independent’s new boss Evgeny Lebedev has told the Financial Times he is mulling taking the title free in some regions.

And he has said that new editor of the title Simon Kelner is only an interim appointment.

Alexander Lebedev, the owner of the Independent titles, said in a Guardian interview published today that he had ‘no plans’to take them free.

But his 30-year-old son Evgeny, who is chairman of holding company Independent Print, told the FT in an interview published on Saturday: “I don’t think bettering journalism is the only way forward in trying to build its success. It has to be the business model.

“Whether finding synergies between the two papers [the Standard and the Independent], or a partial giveaway, or maybe smaller changes that would then amount to something that would be substantially felt in the business model of the paper.”

The Lebedevs completed the purchase of the Independent titles last month in a deal which will see Independent News and Media pay £9.25m to compensate for ongoing liabilities.

That deal came just over a year after Lebedev had bought the Evening Standard from Associated Newspapers for a £1.

Last month Independent editor in chief and managing director Simon Kelner returned as editor of The Independent.

Lebedev junior has told the FT that this was just a temporary move.

He said: ‘There’s an understanding between Simon and us that he’s come on as an interim editor – it could be a few months or a few years. In the long term, both him and I, we have a joint understanding that there will be another editor.”

On the subject of a possible merger with the Evening Standard, Evgeny told the FT: “If some kind of merger happened it would be very complex. But there may be synergies – for example, with the World Cup coming on, rather than sending four reporters from one paper and four from another, you could send five altogether to cover the whole thing and then share the information. That’s a possibility.”

Evgeny has revealed that a trial give-away of 300,000 copies a day of The Independent in London in the run up to the election had been accompanied by an increase in paid-for sales.

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