AddThis SmartLayers

Norwegian investor increases stake in Johnston Press to 8pc

Christen AgerA Norwegian investor has increased his stake in Johnston Press to more than 8pc in what he is calling a “strategic move.”

Christen Ager-Hanssen, left, has announced he now owns 8.03pc of the regional publisher, having purchased an initial 5.14pc stake last month.

Mr Ager-Hanssen’s firm owns the Swedish version of the Metro, and he is reckoned to be worth around £2.5bn.

Speaking to HTFP today, the businessman described the purchase as “a strategic move for the consolidation going on in the UK media.”

Announcing the increased stake on his personal Twitter page this morning, he wrote: “[Custos Group] increased its strategic stake in media conglomerate Johnston Press Plc.”

The tweet included a link to the new share certificate, confirming the deal.

Mr Ager-Hanssen told HTFP: “It’s all about consolidation in this industry. Regarding Johnston [Press], we see it as a strategic move for the consolidation going on in the UK media and we will take a significant part of that.

“You have to create a new ecosystem around your audience. We want to do something with that, and we want Johnston staff to take an active part of that consolidation with this industry.

“At the same time, we need to be aggressive on the digital side and we will be very active on this.”

A JP spokesman said: “We have met with Christen; the conversation was interesting enough for us to arrange a follow up meeting later in the month.”

Over recent years JP has paid off tens of millions of pounds worth of debt accumulated during the 1990s when it bought up scores of UK newspaper titles, but it still has £220m worth of bonds due to be repaid by 2019.

In an interview with the Daily Telegraph last month Mr Ager-Hanssen vowed to help it sort out the bond issue, indicating that he had lined-up other investors to help take on the debt.