Reach is the “frontrunner” to buy JPI Media’s regional newspapers, according to reports.
The Financial Times (FT) said the publisher is “the preferred candidate” for the majority of JPI’s circa-200 titles - not including the i newspaper - according to two people briefed on the negotiations.
Reach is understood to have entered exclusive talks last week and is expected to bid close to £50m for the assets, which include The Scotsman and the Yorkshire Post.
The FT added a deal between JPI and Reach would face potential scrutiny from the UK’s competition watchdog, but it has cited observers as saying the “dire situation in the newspaper industry would make blocking the deal unlikely”.
Reach and JPI had not commented.
Reach was first to confirm that it was in discussions to acquire “certain of JPI Media’s assets”, shortly after it was revealed in July that the publisher was in talks to sell them.
Then in August it was reported that one-time Mirror Group chief executive David Montgomery was preparing to take over the publisher as the first step in a buy-and-build acquisition spree, via his new investment company National World, which last month joined the London Stock Exchange through the listing of £5m-worth of shares.
Other names that are said to have been mulling bids for JPI Media’s assets have included Newsquest, Archant and Belgian media group Mediahuis, which acquired Irish publisher Independent News & Media in April.