The newspaper veteran, who it was reported in August was preparing to take over JPI as the first step in a buy-and-build acquisition spree via his new investment company National World, was not invited for talks with JPI until Saturday (30 November) according to The Financial Times (FT), “after interest from previous frontrunners Newsquest and Reach chilled”.
Reach was previously thought to be the frontrunner for most of the circa-200 regional titles owned by JPI, including The Scotsman and the Yorkshire Post, but it confirmed on Friday that it was no longer in “active discussions” with JPI because it believed the price was too high.
It was first revealed in July that JPI was in talks to sell its assets. Other names that were said to have been mulling bids since then included Newsquest, Archant and Belgian media group Mediahuis.
The FT reported that one person close to the negotiations said Newsquest had eventually dropped out of the race around two weeks ago, when the merger of its parent company, US-headquartered Gannett, had completed.
Montgomery, whose National World venture joined the London Stock Exchange in September, and Newsquest both declined to comment when approached by the FT while the publication could not reach JPI Media for comment.
JPI Media is controlled by a consortium of former investors in Johnston Press. It acquired Johnston Press a year ago in a pre-pack deal that offloaded its crippling debt.