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More speculation around media group

Scotsman sale rumours re-surface as bankers hired

Slim pickings for newspaper sales

US bondholders who own The Scotsman and the i newspaper have appointed bankers to look at a potential sale of the titles.

The appointment of advisers at Stella EOC follows speculation earlier this month that a break-up of the group was being explored. It comes just months after a consortium led by GoldenTree Asset Management acquired Johnston Press out of administration.

David King, CEO of JPI Media, the company formed after the buy-out, had written to staff saying there was no “formal sales process”, although the group was looking at “business plans” for the group.

The deal to acquire Johnston Press was engineered to reduce its £220 million debt and interest charges which prevented the group from investing in the titles. The debt fell to £85m and the pension scheme was controversially transferred to the Pension Protection Fund, while shareholders were wiped out.

JPI Media, which owns 200 titles including the Yorkshire Post, Sheffield Star and Falkirk Herald, received a £35m injection of new funding. The i, which it acquired from the Russian owner of the Evening Standard in 2016 for £24m, saw circulation rise and helped stem group losses. It is thought to be on the radar of Daily Mail & General Trust.

The Scotsman is making a further 10 staff redundant.

Other regional titles are known to be seeking further efficiencies and possible mergers resulting from dwindling circulations as readers switch to digital news sources. While many newspaper groups can now boast more readers than ever before, they face the challenge of monetising the new media.

Archant, which owns the Norwich-based daily paper, the Eastern Daily Press, is also sounding out potential buyers. The Glasgow-based Sunday Herald closed last year and was replaced by two titles serving different markets, but sharing some content.

National newspapers are not immune from the cost-cutting. The Daily Express, Daily Record and Daily Mirror are also sharing content, mainly sport and features, since Trinity Mirror – now known as Reach – acquired the Express & Star.

 



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