Johnston Press to sell off more UK regional newspapers

Sun, 13 Nov 2016 | BUSINESS SALE

Johnston Press, the owner of the Yorkshire Post and The Scotsman, is considering selling off more regional newspapers.

The debt-laden publisher is in discussions with the Iliffe family to purchase several papers in East Anglia, according to the Sunday Times. These include the include the Suffolk Free Press and the Newmarket Journal.

There could well be other newspapers also put on the block by Johnston Press as part of a strategy to reduce debt, currently standing at £209 million, or four times earnings. The company has around 200 regional newspapers and according to its most recent trading update, sales have taken a further 5.1 per cent dive in the 17-week period to the end of October.

At the same time costs have risen significantly in the wake of the post-Brexit sterling collapse, particularly for Canadian-sourced newsprint.

Ashley Highfield, Johnston Press’s chief executive, has come under pressure from shareholders to find a way out of a looming cash crisis. A sale of a tranche of local papers is hoped to bring in the funds needed to buy back some of its debt at a discount - company bonds are now trading at around 60p in the pound.


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