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Newsquest launches bid to buy independent weekly

Henry Faure WalkerBosses of an independent island weekly are backing a bid by regional publishing giant Newsquest to buy the newspaper.

Shareholders of the Isle of Wight County Press are being asked to consider an offer from the regional publisher to acquire the entire issued share capital of the group.

A decision is expected in around four weeks time and, if accepted, “Special arrangements” would be made to safeguard the paper’s editorial independence

Across the Solent in Hampshire, Newsquest already owns the Southern Daily Echo as well as a number of weekly titles.

On behalf of the board, Robin Freeman, IW County Press Group chief executive, said: “The board of the IWCP Group strongly believe that this is the best way forward for our group of companies.

“It provides access to the skills, knowledge and expertise that we need in order for us to be able to adapt and change the existing businesses to meet the opportunities and challenges of the new media landscape that we face.

“Newsquest are a very well-respected and highly professional group and I very much hope that the next chapter of the CP’s life will be as part of their group.

“The directors have been advised that the offer for the group is a fair one and the directors are unanimous in recommending to shareholders that they accept the offer.

“These are exciting times for us all and, if approved, this arrangement will provide a sound future for the group’s excellent products and services. I strongly believe that it will be very good news for the local community, economy and for local democracy on the IW.

“Newsquest are strongly committed to maintaining the editorial independence and integrity of the IW County Press newspaper and special arrangements will be put in place to safeguard this if the offer is accepted by shareholders. Support for the local community is something that is also important to both companies and this will be maintained.”

Newsquest chief executive Henry Faure Walker, pictured above left, added: “We look forward to the opportunity of working with the Isle of Wight County Press, its staff and the community it represents in building on their success as one of the county’s strongest local news brands and helping them forge a strong and sustainable future.”

The proposed deal follows Newsquest’s acquisition of the Dunfermline-based Clyde and Forth Press group, which also included the Berkshire Media Group, in 2015.

9 comments

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  • June 19, 2017 at 11:30 am
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    The County Press might be a ‘Monday-follows-Sunday’-type weekly, but once Newquest have templated it the title will lose its local integrity. Will production and printing be kept local?

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  • June 19, 2017 at 1:16 pm
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    @ One-time Sub. The County Press is currenty printed by the Newbury Weekly News. If the takeover succeeds, it is likely that the job will be taken in-house by Newsquest when the contract ends. There is probably capacity at Southampton.

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  • June 19, 2017 at 1:59 pm
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    …and is the NUJ represented there? I suggest that even if it isn’t, the staff should get together and appeal, strongly, to every one of those shareholders not to accept the deal!

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  • June 19, 2017 at 4:02 pm
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    GladImOutOfIt – Why should the staff appeal to the shareholders to
    reject the deal? Do you have inside knowledge that others should know about?

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  • June 19, 2017 at 4:24 pm
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    Glad to be corrected, Delighted to be ex-NQ. Am always amazed on trips to the family on the IoW just how stuffed the CP is with ads. Presumably Newsquest bosses are licking their lips at the prospect of all that commercial revenue; however, I rather suspect that locals are used to their paper’s somewhat old-school look, and therefore slashing the story count and introducing templated pages will have some people foaming at the mouth even more than any mention of the words “fixed” and “link”.
    Does this mean that the IWCP board wants to modernise and doesn’t have the funds? Maybe its members want to take the first decent offer to come their way as they don’t see any future for the printed press, even in a circulation area where almost a quarter of the population is aged 65 or over.

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  • June 19, 2017 at 9:46 pm
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    “Newsquest are a very well-respected and highly professional group.”

    Proof that beauty really is in the eye of the beholder.

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  • June 20, 2017 at 10:41 am
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    Peter Edwards: My comment was the second of two; moderators removed the first one, presumably because of legal concerns. To clarify, I warned of redundancies – particularly of any subs (NQ seems to have stopped using them!) . The redundancies will take time, of course, because presumably NQ will have to install the write-to-allotted-hole-in-page system they use; but after that…!

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  • June 20, 2017 at 10:33 pm
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    I would suggest a perfect opportunity for a truly local independent to set up!

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