Johnston Press puts itself up for sale

By Richard Stuart-Turner, Thursday 11 October 2018

Be the first to comment

Johnston Press has hoisted a ‘for sale’ over the business as it continues the strategic review it started last year.

johnston-press-the-i

The i newspaper is one of Johnston's most valuable assets

The publisher said that since March 2017 it has “focused on exploring all options available to it” to find a solution to the repayment of £220m in high-yield bonds, which mature in June 2019.

In a statement published on the London Stock Exchange today (11 October), the group said: “Pursuant to this strategic review and in order to assess all strategic options to maximise value to its stakeholders, the board of Johnston Press announces today that it has decided to seek offers for the company.”

The business, which owns almost 200 regional newspapers including The  Scotsman and The Yorkshire Post, is using Rothschild bank to manage the process, which will look to sell the business as a whole entity.

There is speculation, however, that it is more likely rival publishers will look to acquire its most profitable assets – including the i newspaper, which Johnston acquired in 2016. The title posted a 61% increase in adjusted EBITDA to £6m in the group’s H1 2018 results.

Bidders for Johnston Press could include activist shareholder Custos Group, headed by Christen Ager-Hanssen, which already owns more than 20% of the business. In July Ager-Hanssen threatened the publisher with legal action if it were to opt for a pre-pack.

Johnston said it is not in discussions with any potential offerors or in receipt of any approaches at the time of this announcement. It will continue to update all stakeholders on the formal sale process and other aspects of the strategic review “as and when appropriate”.

Shares in Johnston Press fell by nearly 7% to 3.05p at the start of trading today but quickly recovered and stood at 3.39p at the time of writing, giving a market capitalisation of £3.46m.

The share price had fallen to an all-time slump in June, shortly after chief executive Ashley Highfield – now replaced in post by David King – departed the company.

A total statutory revenue of £93m and operating profit of £7.4m was recorded by the business in its H1 2018 results while net debt was reported at £140.2m.

Share this

Related headlines

Johnston revenues down as strategic review continues
29 August 2018

Johnston Press had “no significant update” for investors on its efforts to tackle £220m in bond-related...

Johnston investor threatens legal action in event of pre-pack
25 July 2018

Johnston Press has been threatened with legal action by its largest shareholder over rumours that the...

Johnston Press confirms talks to offload pension scheme
06 June 2018

Johnston Press has confirmed press reports that it is in debt restructuring discussions that could see...

Johnston Press shares hit record low
05 June 2018

Shares in Johnston Press slumped to a record low this morning (5 June) after the company warned of “extremely...

This Issue

Latest comments