Amid all of the brouhaha about the Evening Standard, I should mention the FT‘s suggestion last week that the Lebedev-DMGT talks were linked with a potential sale of the Independent.
At the Guardian, Roy Greenslade has been fairly keen on this idea, too. (”Running a metropolitan title is all very well, but surely [Lebedev] would also want a national voice.”)
Last week, the FT said Lebedev and Independent News & Media held talks, although an offer had not been made.
Discussions are active, but contingent on the outcome of Mr Lebedev’s discussions with Daily Mail & General Trust, the Evening Standard’s owner, according to one person familiar with the negotiations.
Which raises a question. Does this mean that. . .
(a) Mr Lebedev won’t pursue the Indy now that he owns the Standard?
(b) Buying the Independent only makes sense if Lebedev can spread his costs across two loss-making newspapers?
The correct answer seems to be (a). At least, this is the implication of Lebedev’s chat with the FT this morning.
‘I’ve been talking to a lot of editors and chiefs at British newspapers this year, but I wouldn’t call it either negotiations or exploratory talks. I think this has been grossly exaggerated. I even joked about the Times. My sense of humour may sound odd, but this was no more than a joke.”
So Mr Lebedev was having a laugh — about the Times, if not the Independent. No doubt his sense of humour will continue to be a talking point.