Publisher of The Scotsman and Yorkshire Post up for sale

Thu, 11 Oct 2018 | BUSINESS SALE

Following a strategic review assessing options for paying back £220 million in loans, which commenced in 2017, Johnston Press has decided to put itself up for sale.

The Edinburgh-based publisher reported a sharp decline in revenues, citing the change in Google and Facebook algorithms as the major factor. The repayments of the loans are due on 1 June 2019.

A statement from the company confirmed that no discussions were currently on the table with prospective buyers although some potential bidders have been identified, including names like activist shareholder Custos Group which already owns more than 20 per cent of Johnston Press.

The company notes total revenue fell by 10 per cent to £93 million for the first half in 2018. However, in the same time, the publisher came out of the red with interim pre-tax profits of £6.2 million against losses of £10.2 million a year earlier, thanks to a one-off accounting gain of £8.8 million.

The statement from the company further stated: "The company will continue to update all stakeholders on the formal sale process and other aspects of the strategic review as and when appropriate."

Potential offers have been invited to come forward and provide proposals to Rothschild to start phase one of the sales process. The confidentiality agreement with the company will form phase two of process.

Johnston Press first started involvement in printing in 1797 and owns and operates around 200 newspapers and websites around the UK as well as the Isle of Man. The newspaper from The Independent was added to its portfolio in 2016.

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