Up to eight companies are said to be mulling bids for JPI Media’s assets, which include the i newspaper and more than 100 regional titles.
The Times has reported that bidders for the company’s portfolio are thought to include Newsquest and Archant, and that there are also hopes Belgian media group Mediahuis will show its hand, following its April acquisition of Irish publisher Independent News & Media, which it bought for €145.6m (£133.3m).
Reach was first to confirm that it was in discussions to acquire “certain of JPI Media’s assets”, shortly after it was revealed last month that the publisher was in talks to sell them.
Then last week it was reported that one-time Mirror Group chief executive David Montgomery is preparing to take over the publisher as the first step in a buy-and-build acquisition spree, via his investment company National World.
The Times said that while DC Thomson has been on a recent acquisition spree, it “has mainly ruled out bidding because it considers the likes of The Scotsman to be overvalued”.
It added buyer focus “tends to be on the national titles, although city papers including Edinburgh Evening News and The Star in Sheffield are profitable performers in the group”.
Any deal is expected to be completed by “the end of next month”.
JPI Media was established last November following a pre-pack deal in which Johnston Press was acquired by a consortium of its debt investors led by US hedge fund GoldenTree Asset Management.