The Financial Times (FT) said National World executive chairman David Montgomery was not invited for talks with JPI until Saturday (30 November), “after interest from previous frontrunners Newsquest and Reach chilled”.
National World yesterday confirmed in a statement that it is “contemplating several acquisitions and has approached JPI following speculation that the sale process for the regional titles had not completed”.
“There is no certainty that any transaction will proceed. A further announcement will be made as appropriate in due course,” the company added.
It was first reported in August that one-time Mirror Group chief executive Montgomery was preparing to take over JPI as the first step in a buy-and-build acquisition spree via National World, which joined the London Stock Exchange in September.
The company said yesterday that it has now requested a suspension of listing of its ordinary shares.
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.
On the same day, it was revealed that JPI's national daily i newspaper had been bought by newspaper group DMGT for nearly £50m.
It was first revealed in July that JPI Media was in talks to sell its assets. JPI 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.