Reach drops JPI interest

Herald-Scotsman merger doubts as ‘i’ sold to Daily Mail


A merger of The Herald and the Scotsman was thought likely

A break-up of JPIMedia, the owner of The Scotsman titles, has begun with Daily Mail & General Trust acquiring the ‘i’ newspaper and website.

The owner of the Daily Mail – DMGT – has paid JPI Media £49.6m, a premium on the £24m that the now-defunct Johnston Press paid London Evening Standard owner Evgeny Lebedev in February 2016.

DMGT chairman Lord Rothermere said: “We are delighted to welcome the ‘i’ to our stable of media brands.

“It is a highly respected publication with a loyal and engaged readership.

“We are committed to preserving its distinctive, high quality and politically independent editorial style.”

In July, Reach, which owns the Daily Record, Mirror and Express titles, said it was in talks to buy some of JPI’s assets, The Scotsman, Yorkshire Post and 200 local papers. But in a trading update today it said it was “no longer in active discussions”.

JPIMedia was formed by a group of bondholders who acquired the assets of Johnston Press after it fell into administration at the end of last year.

The sale of the ‘i’ strips JPIMedia of its most successful and revenue-earning title and with Reach out of the picture it left Newsquest – owner of The Herald in Glasgow – as one of two potential buyers of the remaining titles.

It was revealed earlier this month that Newsquest had “substantially” outbid a £50 million offer for JPI Media’s titles from Reach. However, despite indications that a merger of The Scotsman and Herald appeared to be on it emerged today that it had also cooled on the idea of a bid.

Former News of the World and Daily Mirror editor David Montgomery is also said to be interested in mounting a bid for The Scotsman and other titles in the group.

Reach also said that in the five months to 24 November like-for-like revenues fell 4.4%, although this was an improvement on the 6.6% like-for-like decline seen a year earlier.

The switch away from print to digital continued, with print revenues down 7.3% and digital up 14.0%.

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