DMGT moves to buy i from Johnston Press

By Richard Stuart-Turner, Tuesday 13 November 2018

Be the first to comment

The owner of the Daily Mail is "plotting" to buy the i newspaper from Johnston Press, according to a report from Sky News.

i-newspaper

Johnston Press acquired the i newspaper in 2016

The broadcaster said the proposed bid by Daily Mail and General Trust (DMGT) is at an early stage but is expected to be lodged in the coming weeks, ahead of a deadline set by Johnston’s advisers at Rothschild bank.

Shares in Johnston Press rose sharply yesterday morning (12 November) following the report, jumping from a Friday close of 3.3p to 4.14p in early Monday trading. The share price stood at 4p at the time of writing.

The publisher put itself up for sale last month, as it continues the strategic review it started last year to find a solution to the repayment of £220m in high-yield bonds, which mature in June 2019.

Later in the month its largest shareholder, activist investor Custos, increased its stake in the company from around 20% to more than 25% to “ensure some of the more insane board or adviser actions can be blocked”.

In July Custos’ chief executive Christen Ager-Hanssen had threatened the publisher with legal action if it were to opt for a pre-pack.

Launched in 2010 and acquired by Johnston in 2016, i is one of the publisher’s most profitable assets and posted a 61% increase in adjusted EBITDA to £6m in the group’s H1 2018 results.

Johnston also owns almost 200 regional newspapers, including The Scotsman and The Yorkshire Post.

While a sale of the whole business looks unlikely, Sky News said that by selling the i by itself, Johnston could generate between £50m and £100m in proceeds, much of which would be used to reduce its pension and bondholder obligations.

When contacted by PrintWeek, a spokesperson for DMGT reiterated the message that the company told Sky News; that it “reviews all publishing assets that come to market”, particularly those where it can potentially leverage the scale of its existing national and international media operations.

While Johnston Press had not responded to a PrintWeek request for comment at the time of writing, it had replied to other news sources only by stating “the formal sale process launched on 11 October is ongoing”.

Share this

Related headlines

Custos ups Johnston Press stake to block possible sale
22 October 2018

Johnston Press’s largest shareholder has increased its stake in the publishing company from around 20%...

Johnston Press puts itself up for sale
11 October 2018

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

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...

This Issue

Latest comments