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Britain’s Observer Newspaper Saved From Closure

From a Times Staff Writer

The Observer, believed to be the world’s oldest Sunday newspaper, was saved from closure Thursday when its owner, the British conglomerate Lonrho PLC, said it has received an acceptable purchase offer from the Guardian, a daily paper.

Sale to the Guardian will ensure continued publication of the money-losing Observer, which was founded in 1791 and is considered one of Britain’s leading journalistic institutions.

Lonrho’s announcement did not mention the amount of the offer, but it is believed to be lower than another offer, rumored to be about $47 million, from Newspaper Publishing Co., which publishes a rival paper, the Independent on Sunday. Sale to the Independent, however, would have meant closure of the Observer by the buyer to reduce competition in Britain’s crowded Sunday newspaper field.

The Guardian shares the Observer’s moderately left-of-center political outlook and, industry observers said, can fit the Observer easily into its own publishing schedule, which is now Monday through Saturday.

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The sale is expected to be approved by the Observer’s independent directors and by the government’s monopolies commission.

The Observer’s staff cheered wildly as Editor Donald Trelford broke the news at the paper’s headquarters Thursday morning.


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