i newspaper publisher Johnston Press up for sale


Johnston Press, the publisher of newspapers including the i, The Scotsman and the Yorkshire Post, has put itself up for sale.

There had been speculation that the company could be sold after it launched a strategic review in 2017.

Johnston Press has £220m of borrowing due for repayment in June next year.

A decline in traditional and digital advertising revenues has seen the value of the company's newspaper titles fall.

Johnston Press said it was not currently in talks with any potential buyers.

Shares fell by almost 7% at the start of trading, but then quickly recovered to stand nearly 5% higher.

The publisher is one of the largest local and regional newspaper organisations in the UK.

It has titles covering more than 200 locations from Scotland and Northern Ireland to the south of England.

It was founded in Falkirk in 1767, and listed on the London Stock Exchange in 1988, growing through acquisitions.

Share moves

On 26 July, shares in the company soared by more than 70% following reports that a mystery buyer was snapping up stock.

The next day, activist shareholder Custos Group, which owns more than 20% of Johnston Press, sent the publisher a letter asking whether the board intended to put the company into administration, according to reports.

Norwegian entrepreneur Christen Ager-Hanssen, who heads Custos Group, reportedly told Johnston Press it would be a prospective bidder for the business, if it went into administration.

In its latest results, Johnston Press reported a 10% fall in revenues during the first half of 2018. It swung back to a profit of £6.2m for the six-month period, but this was mainly due to a one-off accounting gain of £8.8m.