Speculation over newspaper's future
Salmond in consortium ‘bid’ for Scotsman
Independence proved elusive..and so may a deal to buy the paper
Former First Minister Alex Salmond is involved in a plan to buy The Scotsman newspaper, it has been claimed.
The ex-SNP leader, who lost his Gordon seat in the last general election, is said to be working with a consortium to acquire the title from London-based Johnston Press.
It is the latest in a string of proposed buy-outs of the title which is marking its 200th anniversary with a slump in average sale to just 21,214 as readers desert print for digital news services.
Business leaders such as Sir Brian Souter, Sir David Murray and Martin Gilbert have been linked to bids for the paper.
The former SNP leader is pushing for greater diversity in the Scottish press and The Scotsman has been regularly targeted by nationalists for its resistance to supporting independence.
Johnston Press bought Scotsman Publications in 2005 for £160 million and since then the titles have been written down to virtually nil. The whole group, consisting of 200 papers, is now worth just £17.5m.
It is not clear if Mr Salmond’s consortium would also continue to publish Scotland on Sunday which Johnston Press has included among a number of brands labelled “sub core”, or likely to be sold.
In August Johnston Press reported a 31% fall in half-year profit as it continued to rely on growth of the ‘i’ newspaper which it acquired for £24m in April 2016 by adding to its debt pile.
Mr Salmond’s consortium would most likely have to take on a proportion of the group’s debt, a scenario which has deterred previous interests.
However, Johnston Press may be finally admitting to failure in its attempts to revive sales of the title and drive revenue.
The group’s critics say the diversion of profits into servicing its debt has held back the papers by starving them of investment.